A factory that never sleeps: At 247TailorSteel customers can place their orders 24 hours a day, seven days a week and receive their goods within 48 hours. The Dutch company is currently building a new factory in North Rhine-Westphalia and therefore instrumental in advancing Industry 4.0 in the state. An interview with CEO Paul Schipper about German precision, the future of the Smart Factory and market potential.
- With your company you demonstrate impressively how Industry 4.0 can work. What do you see as being the advantages of the Smart Factory?
A Smart Factory offers numerous advantages for us as a company, but above all for our customers. They benefit from even better service and even faster delivery. Thanks to our high-tech machinery and the Sophia® portal, customers can place their orders online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, receive a quote in just one minute and have their product delivered within 48 hours.
Thanks to automation, we can design our product range very flexibly – a combination of high volumes and a large variety of products is no problem at all. We can offer individually configured products from a batch size of 1, which would be almost economically unfeasible in a traditional factory. In addition, we can quickly train new colleagues on the machines, as everything is pre-programmed there and quality is thus assured. Networking between our individual factories, for example to exchange orders, also makes a decisive contribution to our delivery reliability.
- You say you combine "German precision with Dutch innovation" – what exactly does that mean?
247TailorSteel combines the strengths of both cultures: On the one hand, the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the Netherlands, where digitization is already a bit more advanced than in Germany, and on the other hand, German manufacturing precision. With our ultra-modern machine park with 38 laser cutting machines and 18 benders, we are ideally equipped for this. The concept of dual learning, which is really an advantage for Germany, is also implemented at 247TailorSteel: We have our own academy where new employees are trained. We also work with several Dutch and German colleges and universities.
- You are currently building a large new factory in Hilden near Düsseldorf. What made you decide in favor of this location?
The new production facility is a milestone in our international expansion strategy and our goal of serving customers within a radius of 200 kilometers. We benefit in particular from the excellent location – at the heart of our customer base and in direct proximity to the freeway. The site on offer was perfectly suited to our needs. Furthermore, the support of the city of Hilden, the German-Dutch Chamber of Commerce and NRW.INVEST was extremely helpful.
- What is 247TailorSteel's future vision for Germany?
For 247TailorSteel, Germany is the most important market in Europe for outsourced sheet metal processing. That is why we want to grow here. We have already reached a high customer density in some metropolitan areas in Germany. But there is further growth potential, so we may at some point consider building another production facility locally.