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Today, there is hardly a car brand in the world that does not have an assembly from Pollmann installed in its vehicles. Among other things, sunroof mechanisms, door lock housings and e-mobility components such as busbars are produced at the two Waldviertel sites in Karlstein and Vitis, as well as at plants in the Czech Republic, China and Mexico.
Just as series production could not take place without raw materials and qualified employees, it would not exist without the right tools. And so in-house toolmaking has been an indispensable part of Pollmann's company history for more than 50 years. In order to do justice to this specialization, a separate subsidiary, Pollmann Werkzeugbau GmbH, was recently created. Through this step, the know-how of years of practice no longer benefits only the company's own production, but can also be offered to external customers in the form of development and production.
And since the Pollmann Group includes not only toolmaking, but also the Maxxom Automation GmbH as a specialist for automation technology, customers benefit from a true all-round carefree package. This is a real unique selling point, because other contract toolmakers usually do not have automation in-house.
50 new tools per year
In fact, around 1,250 tools are currently active at Pollmann's headquarters in Karlstein alone. These are various types of injection molding and stamping tools. Around 50 new tools are produced annually by the 70 toolmaking employees. Most frequently, these are so-called overmolding tools, which are used, for example, to overmold contact grids with plastic to form a door lock housing.
An average of 15 weeks elapses between the start of design and the start of use. Up to 10,000 individual parts are assembled, resulting in a tool weighing up to 10 tons. "Such a tool goes through all of our manufacturing sections and each of our employees has touch points," toolmaking manager Manuel Kohl tells us about the process. The effort is worthwhile, because there are actually specimens that have still not quit their service after 20 years. "Our tools are characterized by an extremely long service life and ease of maintenance," Kohl knows.
So-called overmolding tools are manufactured most frequently.
Permanent further development
Pollmann's production department also uses a injection tool with cube technology. Compared to an index plate tool, the advantage of this technology is the extremely short cycle time. Because it is two-sided with a permanently producing unit, no time is lost in loading and unloading the parts.
This cube tool, which is still rare in the automotive industry and is used at Pollmann to produce components for seat adjustment in cars, was not built in-house. However, that is set to change in the near future. Then the toolmaking team attaches great importance to the continuous further development of its own competencies. "We have already been able to acquire a lot of know-how here and want to make the best possible use of it in the future," says Kohl, looking forward to the new challenge.
Injection tool with cube technology
While the site in China acts independently when it comes to tool procurement, the tools for the other production sites mostly come from Karlstein. In view of the Pollmann network and China location, the possibility of sourcing certain parts and tools directly from Asia is an immense advantage due to the cost savings. Thus, it is quite common that the purchase takes place in China, but the preceding design and final coordination in Karlstein. This approach prevents a loss of know-how.
However, the availability of the parts needed for the toolmaking, was difficult at times due to the Corona pandemic. "Here we noticed the dependence on China, which is why we are now paying more attention to regional purchasing," explains Manuel Kohl. Regional and international purchasing are not mutually exclusive, so the pros and cons have to be weighed up here.
Toolmaking itself continues in the usual manner after the Pollmann Werkzeugbau GmbH was founded, but other processes are new. At the top of the agenda right now is the development of sales in order to ensure a strong external presence for customer acquisition.
1. Picture: Manuel Kohl manages the Pollmann tool shop
2. Picture: Toolmaking technician at work
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Pollmann International GmbH
Raabser Straße 1
3822 Karlstein / Thaya