Future-proofing manufacturing through productivity and efficiency: A Q&A with norelem CEO Marcus Schneck

4 min read

Increasing productivity and efficiency throughout manufacturing processes and sites has a powerful knock-on effect, decreasing downtime, increasing performance and outputs, and subsequently ensuring a more sustainable approach to manufacturing. To achieve this, even the smallest component of a machine plays a vital part. In this Q&A, Marcus Schneck, CEO of norelem, talks about the trends and challenges the industry is facing, and how norelem’s standard components can help future-proof manufacturing through increasing productivity and efficiency.

What trends are you seeing for 2022 across the industry?

Across the industry, many machines currently work digitally, however, in the future, more and more machines will be working ‘smart’. At norelem we are finalizing the launch of our new SMART products, which will continue to drive forward the evolution to smarter, more efficient manufacturing. With the new SMART products, norelem is developing intelligent components and solutions that help to control machining or manufacturing processes in a more stable, precise, and reliable way. We have one simple goal: error-free machining.

Transformations and change usually bring about a degree of disruption. What challenges are your customers facing at the moment and how does norelem help address them?

The biggest challenges the manufacturing industries are facing are the raw material situation, the supply chain issues in general, and the huge resulting cost and price increases.

At norelem, we put all our efforts in serving our customers quickly and in time, as most of our products are available from stock. This also means constant optimization of our global logistics centers and logistics flow. We are aiming to minimize dependency, by increasing in-house production at our production sites both in Germany and in France. And for parts that are not manufactured in-house, we aim for independency by thinking long-term and by taking preventive action. This means tightening our strong relationships with existing suppliers, while at the same time forging trusting bonds with new suppliers and alternative sources.

You mentioned efficiency and productivity earlier, what role do standard components play in increasing productivity? Can you give an example?  

Standard parts do not require drawings, drawings can be downloaded as finished models (3D cost free), which means that these corresponding parts are physically available as standardized products from stock. This means that the product can simply be ordered and doesn’t need to be elaborately manufactured, which immediately gives the designer the advantage of plannable availability. There is no drawing, no configuration, just finding and downloading.

Let me give you an example: Imagine you are looking for a pin with a diameter of 10mm, length 30mm, M3 Hole, out of hardened steel, which costs less than 20 €/each. The time of a production drawing takes about 15 minutes. If we estimate that CAD time is charged at an average price of 80 € per hour, this will already cost you 20 € in process time.

Now, at this stage the part has not been manufactured yet. To do so, or to outsource to a service provider, will cost you likely in the region of 50 € or above. Overall, you are looking at a cost of 70 € or more for a single component.

With our offering of over 70,000 standard components, the 3D Model is already available to you free of charge, with a delivery time of 1 day in Germany. Our customers, especially the technical designers, have then more freedom to be focused on their core competence, like developing solutions, instead of creating unnecessary drawings.

Can standard components also impact efficiency?

Absolutely. If we look at the entire process from finding the product to delivery, standard components offer clear advantages to increase efficiency.

Going back to my example above, the normal process of getting a standard component requires several time and cost intensive steps: From drawing the part to putting the part number on the Bill of Materials, to handing over the purchasing department who will start the process of requesting quotations, to waiting for the quotations to be received, placing the order and waiting for delivery – the process takes time and time is valuable.

On the other hand, using standard components means engineers simply define the product they need, download the drawing, place the order via our online shop, and receive their component the very next day.

Even for spare parts the benefits are clear. The required goods do not need to be engineered or manufactured again, instead they can simply be reordered. In total, by using standard components, you save time and cost, which leads directly to a higher planning reliability and increased efficiency. And the more standardized items are in use, the higher is the positive impact on the whole project.

What role do efficiency and productivity play at norelem? How do you encourage and increase productivity and efficiency across the organization?

If our productivity and efficiency was not top of the line, we could not continue to supply more than 35.000 customers and maintain our position as a European market leader in standard components successfully. From lean management to CIP, 5S, a paperless office, to name but a few - all these principles are in place at norelem. And we all work hard to ensure that they are improved every single day by every single person in our organization.

What is the most innovative product norelem currently offers?

The most innovative product is still the concept of THE BIG GREEN BOOK. All products in one book divided into two user-friendly volumes for all engineering and design needs. We have just released our latest edition, THE BIG GREEN BOOK Edition 2022 with more than 70,000 standard components, including technical specifications and drawings.

Finally, what added value does norelem offer to design engineers?

The answer to this is twofold. For once, through value creation in the form of data. We offer free accessible 3 Data for all our components. Our product catalogue – with more than 70,000 components - is available both as a print as well as a digital version. It is downloadable on our homepage as an E-Catalogue or BME Catalogue, an electronic catalogue form aiming to simplify the data exchange and ordering process between supplier and our purchaser. This allows us to define our clients’ needs and deliver the product data exactly in the requested format.

The second principle of adding value to design engineers is through product development: our focus is always the customer. We do not just develop our product range, we ask “What do our customers need? How can we make their lives easier?” Our product managers are in constant exchange with the market and customers, so that we can ensure that our customers find what they are looking for at norelem. This has enabled us to add more than 10.000 parts to our product range this year, which now contains over 70.000 parts.

In a nutshell, we want to help our customers and design engineers implement their ideas by providing all the parts they need from one single source.

For more about norelem and to order your free copy of THE BIG GREEN BOOK, please visit www.norelem.co.uk or contact thebiggreenbook@norelem.co.uk.