HERBERT: Meeting place for tyre technology
The HERBERT group, a German manufacturer enterprise for tyre manufacturing equipment and machinery, develops tyre technology solutions in close partnership with tyre manufacturers the world over.
The company was founded in 1905 by Leonhard HERBERT in Frankfurt am Main and began by manufacturing tyre moulds. Later on it transitioned to the manufacture of machines for the vulcanization of tyres and tubes. HERBERT expanded at that time its product portfolio with the production of tyre confectioning machines.
HERBERT is a family owned company business headed by Managing Director Matthias Walter.
This structure brings beneﬁt for both – customers and employees. “An obvious advantage of being a family business is the hassle-free decision-making process — short communication lines between us and the customers make it possible to shorten the complete production cycle” says Walter.
“An advantage for our employees is that they know the management and the owners on a personal level, which creates a bond that turns into enthusiasm at the workplace. For example, HERBERT has its own football team, brass band and gives the employees private health insurance, Walter points out.
HERBERT group is managed from the head quarter located in Hünfeld, 120 km North East from Frankfurt. The headquarters unites the two main HERBERT business fields which are separated in “HERBERT Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG” for moulds, containers, tools as well as tyre building drums, transfer ring, services, repair and training. Secondly, in “HERBERT Maschinen- und Anlagenbau GmbH & Co KG” for curing presses, bladder presses, services and engineering.
The fully owned subsidiary in USA has 60 employees with his own local management. Synergies with the German headquarters are used every day in both direction. It can be support in terms of CAD/ CAM or sharing production capacity.
An important feature of the group for customers is that HERBERT from outside is recognised as one company and the customer has the same contact for all business fields.
Matthias Walter adds: “Today, an important part of our business model is based on developing partnerships with tyre manufacturers. They have their own machines, but nobody likes to keep working isolated in their own backyard. They come to us to see what the world of tyre manufacturing has to offer. Since we work for most of the world’s tyre manufacturers, HERBERT is a meeting place for ideas, new concepts and production methods and open for that.
New concepts means to listen to the customer and creating new ideas for the customer’s individual demand. This has been done many times in the past years with great success in terms of design to cost projects, customized solutions by special engineered products and introduction of new production methods.
For example, HERBERT developed a system to reduce the electrical power consumption at their presses. The return of investments will be within 2 – 3 years, depending on the country electricity costs. This technology can be offered for all new presses and a package to update existing lines will be available as well. Design to cost is certainly for HERBERT to propose ideas to save costs on both sides.
HERBERT owns a number of patents for special toolings and such as for special tyre building drums. Many of our products are specially designed for customer’s purposes. This is one of our strength, saays Walter. The engineering and R&D department headed by Sebastian Popp has a team of engineers, who is continuously developing special toolings.
Last but not least, HERBERT wants to point out that the latest state-of-the-art production methods should be used and is available at HERBERT. The company invested in a laser engraving machine for creating structures on the sidewall branding, which are not possible to realize by conventional methods. Furthermore, a machine to insert micro slots directly in the mould or in plugs is also available and been tested.
However, the biggest challenge currently is to create tire moulds by SLM technology within a very short time and of reliable quality. Since HERBERT has the experience to make all types of moulds, the company can combine new and old technology with the best possible technical solution to fulfill the customers demand and build very fast experimental tyres and perhaps serial tyres in future with that new technology. The investments in this technology started last year and will continue in 2017.
Tyre moulds – no limits
HERBERT is one of the very few in the tyre industry that is able to handle moulds up to 6.5 metre diameter – especially developed for earthmover tyres. There are no limits in terms of mould sizes and of course this equipment can be used also for huge tyre buiding drums or transfer rings since all know how is in-house.
Matthias Walter: “Normally we invest between three and four million euros in new equipment per year. In 2015 it was eight million, in part for tyre moulds with a 6.5 metre diameter — which is quite rare in the tyre industry. As a matter of fact, customers have shown interest in our know-how and production capabilities. Around 30% of it is generated by sales of tyre moulds for the truck, agricultural and earthmover sector.”
The company employs 450 people worldwide, of which some 300 work at the company headquarters in Hünfeld, in central Germany, between Frankfurt and Kassel. Thanks to the efforts of all its treasured employees, the company has been able to maintain a stable turnover growth of between 5 to 8 per cent annually.
Matthias Walter: “When I bought the company back from National Standard in 1991, we knew that the advantages of a family owned business could boost our relationships with customers; shorter decision cycles – less time spent on making calls back and forth — means getting down to business quicker. Our turnover for 2016 is € 60 million, of which 20 per cent was generated in Europe, and 80 per cent in the rest of the world.”
Herbert’s Global investments
“Tyre manufacturers the world over work with HERBERT, which is reflected in its employees working outside of Germany: the company employs people in the USA, in Russia, in India, and their Czech partner company employs another 300 more.
Getting back to business means we can make up for the decline in business we have felt on the Russian market, mainly caused by a weak rouble. We have invested between three and four million dollars in new equipment in Akron, Ohio, the tyre city of America, to locally serve the major American tyre manufacturers.”
Furthermore, several representatives worldwide are integrated in the organisation. In India HERBERT is partnered with Dawnsun Exim Corporation as its representative. It makes life easier for the customers to be able to contact HERBERT locally. There is no time barrier for the company’s Indian customers. Since there is a growing business for HERBERT in India, after-sales becomes more and more important to provide spares and services in time. According to Walter, the next steps in India will come soon.
Strategic partner quality award
Since 2011, a major tyre manufacturer has presented a range of supplier awards to outstanding providers of goods and services. The ceremony was held in September 2015 in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Out of 30,000 suppliers 400 are recognized as being Strategic Partners. Only three suppliers received quality award in recognition of their exceptional contribution to the group’s high standards. HERBERT was one of the three suppliers, and came first in the “Manufacturing Purchases” category.
Matthias Walter concludes: “Of course we are very proud of having won this quality award. It confirms our goal – trust and long-term partnership with major tyre manufacturers in the world.” It is a feedback for us to be on the right direction.”