As Chief Technology Officer, Jacek Kruszynski has been responsible for product and market segment management as well as research and development since October 2021. The editorial team at IMPULSE spoke to the Chief Technology Officer about structures, development priorities and plans in the field of digitalisation.
Mr Kruszynski, you have restructured MAPAL’s Product and Market Segment Management and put it on a new footing. How has the new structure been received in the market? Are the projected benefits apparent yet?
The new structure has meant that our strategic orientation is clearly visible in the market, including for potential new customers. In this way, we can clearly show which areas and applications we are involved in, which contacts we have for the strategically important topics, and we highlight our high level of competence in the focus segments. In Product and Application Management, the focus is on products and applications where we can leverage our core competence – i.e., project planning and application-based solutions for cubic parts, for die and mould making and for complex materials, as we see in the aerospace industry. Product and Application Management receives concrete requirements from Market Segment Management. The close links of the new structure are paying off both internally and externally.
An important goal was to become significantly faster, for example when configuring tools or whole machining processes. How did you achieve this goal?
The requirements of individual markets and regions, and of individual customers in a region, vary considerably in terms of product volumes and quality requirements. The costs of a machining solution also play a role. We based our Basic Performance Expert classification on this requirements matrix, which we use to envisage application- and customer-specific machining solutions to a certain degree. With this approach, we meet our customers where they are in terms of production volume and quality requirements.
Incidentally, this classification has been in place for years for catalogue products. Carrying it over to components reflects our expertise in terms of customer-specific solutions. A basic solution is, put simply, designed for small series, for prototype production. However, this certainly doesn’t mean that the machining solution is “simple”. Of course, many standard tools are used here with the associated cost benefits. A highly complex custom tool used in the expert solution for mass production with high quality standards would never pay off in such a case. The classification provides a basic framework that our technical advisors can use to address specific needs.
MAPAL presented the Basic Performance Expert solutions on the stator housing for electric motors last year. Does this portfolio of sample solutions also exist for other parts?
Yes, absolutely. We use this approach for many focal components where we see corresponding quality requirements, production quantities and cost targets. For example, in fluid power for valve housings or control blocks.
What are the advantages of this classification for the customer? And for MAPAL?
Our customers benefit from the fact that we are considerably faster at preparing quotes. The proposed tools are already fully developed and qualified. Moreover, the internal processes are also standardised to a certain degree, which leads to further time savings when developing customer-specific solutions.
MAPAL has always been known for getting the most out of “the last µm” for the individual customer. Does this new approach make the old one obsolete?
Not at all! MAPAL’s focus has always been and will continue to be on the customer. Our highly trained technical advisors have a deep understanding of customer processes and are first and foremost on hand here. Across market segments and components, there is a trend towards producing components with ever greater precision in order to minimise waste and also save energy. Therefore, even with the basis provided by our Basic Performance Expert classification, we are still challenged to get the most out of the famous last µm with our team on site, who are ideally equipped for this.
How are MAPAL’s focus markets developing?
In the automotive field, particularly e-mobility and chassis & brakes, we believe we’re on a very good path. Our figures in correlation with market data confirm that we continue to gain market share. In aviation, the drilling and milling of CFRP materials is developing very positively. As for die and mould making, this was a field we had to really explore from scratch. We’re on the right track and our performance is clear, but there’s definitely room for improvement here. Finally, in the fluid power technology sector, which for us at MAPAL is like going back to our roots seeing as MAPAL started with these types of machining, we’re making notable progress.
What are the current development priorities?
The focus in terms of development is as ever on applications for the field of “New Mobility”. Nevertheless, we certainly aren’t neglecting applications for our traditional core business in the automotive sector, where we also continuously launch innovations. The workpiece materials of aluminium, titanium and CFRP are a further priority in development activities, as will become apparent this year in new product ranges for aluminium machining in the automotive and aerospace industries. Not to mention deep drilling and precision bore machining.
In addition to a focus on process solutions for specific parts, MAPAL has consistently established and expanded its standard portfolio in recent years.
There is now an online shop with a range of products in stock. Why was this a vital step and what is your objective with standard products?
An application-based solution, also known as a custom tool, is very often a time-saver and simplifies the machining process. Standard tools might not have the same complexity, but often bores or surfaces can also be machined with standard tools. They therefore have to be available in sufficient quantities. We have consequently defined a range of products in stock and added an online shop. This range will be expanded further – but rather than arbitrarily, this will be in line with our application portfolio and focus components. We’re not going to become a full-range supplier by any stretch of the imagination. But we provide the complete range for our core components in a way that meets market needs.
Standard tools supposedly make manufacturers directly comparable. How does MAPAL still impress?
We don’t shy away from comparisons. We know where we stand and what we can do. At the end of the day, it’s always a question of value for money and cost per part. Our diversified offer with Basic, Performance and Expert solutions therefore also plays a role in this regard. We’re guided by benchmarks in all areas, and sometimes we are the benchmark ourselves. Being compared and measured is part of it, especially as a technology leader. We accept the challenge with confidence.
In addition to customer-specific and standard tools, digital, data-based tools and solutions are now a vital third dimension that every tool manufacturer has to have. How does MAPAL handle this challenge?
We are of course working hard on digital solutions for our customers. In addition, we’re pushing ahead with increasing efficiency in our own production through digitalisation and automation. Providing a digital platform to discover a brand and its products is a requirement of today’s markets. This is also the case in our sector and has a big impact. There are many digital solutions nowadays. But in my opinion, there are hardly any “easy-to-use” solutions on the market. Of course, online shops and selection guides exist. MAPAL itself provides software solutions for tool management via c-Com, where we monitor the logistics and circulation phase as well as draw conclusions to optimise tools. When it comes to comprehensive solutions though, there’s actually still plenty of room for improvement. These assume that customers are willing to open up their production facilities to us or, more generally, to suppliers, and that they are prepared to enter into in-depth partnerships.
The basic prerequisite for everything digital is, of course, the database. It has to be right. All of our products have to be ready for digitalisation. Various formats and platforms play a role. Due to the importance of this issue, we’ve recently created the new Product Automation department, which takes care of all matters relating to the digitalisation of our products and structures and creates and maintains the digital twin across the individual processes. Incidentally, we have been able to fill many of the advertised positions in-house. I’m particularly pleased about that. We have these specialists at various sites in our organisation, who also know MAPAL and can work productively straight away. As a result of pooling resources and skills, I hope to see lots of synergy and an acceleration in this area.
What are your objectives for the next five years?
I absolutely want to achieve our goal of being number 1 in New Mobility in the next five years, providing solutions quickly and reliably. It’s also important that we continue to tangibly increase customer satisfaction. I’d also like to have a digital environment in five years where our technical advisors and engineers can prepare even more targeted offers. Looming over all these goals is the quest to significantly increase our agility.