Electromobility and Digitalization Drive Future Cutting Tool Technology

MMT European Correspondent Barbara Schulz gets the lowdown on a new cutting tool team set to bring cutter and material-related technology to the next level.

After a long-standing partnership between the cutting tool companies Ceratizit and Komet Group, Besigheim, Germany, the Luxembourg-based Ceratizit Group has acquired Komet to complement its product offerings with products in the Industry 4.0 domain. With more than 9,000 employees and 34 production sites worldwide, the merger will make Ceratizit one of the top 5 global players in in the international cutting tool market. We spoke to Dr. Christof Bönsch, CEO of the Komet Group, to find out what the acquisition holds for the 100-year-old company.

Dr. Bönsch, what were the reasons for the takeover?  The disruptive changes in the market environment pose multiple enormous challenges for Komet and other cutting tool manufacturers, including electromobility in the automotive industry and digitalization throughout manufacturing. We decided to join forces with a strong partner to appropriately respond to these disruptions in our markets. The acquisition lifts our long-standing partnership with Ceratizit to a new level.

What is this new- level-partnership, which Ceratizit called a “dream wedding” about? What is the value of this acquisition for both companies? Ceratizit and Komet have little overlap in product portfolios and market approach. While Komet is application-oriented and supports its customers with cutting tool and machining technology expertise on the shopfloor level, Ceratizit has distinct expertise in material-related areas like solid carbide development and coating technologies. Bringing these complementary strengths together is indeed a “dream wedding” of two companies, which have been cooperating for many years. In the United States, for instance, Ceratizit has been supplying solid carbide for our North American network of Komet service partners since 2014.

Earlier this year you developed your future strategy called “Komet 2026”; by then you want to generate one third of your turnover with digital products. What products are we talking about and will the strategy proceed as planned after the takeover by Ceratizit? Komet will continue to follow the strategy laid out under the name “Komet 2026”. We have developed intelligent products, which will play a pivotal role in the age of digitalization and Industry 4.0. Products like our ToolScope assistance and process-monitoring system, online tool selection and CNC programming tool as well as smartphone apps are just some examples of what Komet will bring to the market in the future. Together with Ceratizit, we can accelerate our Industry 4.0 program and leverage the digitalization approach of both companies.

At the beginning of 2017 you said that business will pick up this year. How has the year developed so far? We are seeing growth in all markets, exceeding our expectations. Our market approach of addressing our customers with “Productivity Components”, “Engineered Productivity Solutions” and “Digital Productivity Solutions” is definitely paying off.

How is your business with additively manufactured milling cutters developing? We have focused on applications in additive manufacturing that take distinct advantage of the geometrical opportunities that this technology is providing. Milling cutters with extremely high number of teeth for high-performance cutting and custom-designed tools for superior chip control are the two most important developments. The market response is overwhelming and beyond our ambitious expectations. We are convinced that this market segment will see significant growth in the future.

What are your most important markets by country? Where do you expect the biggest growth? As a German cutting tool company celebrating its 100-year anniversary next year, we are of course very strong in the German market. But our aggressive internationalization strategy over the last few years has paid off and we have now strong sales and manufacturing activities in China, India, Mexico and the U.S. We expect this development to continue in 2018. Automotive is still a significant driver for global growth and this will continue to be that way for still some years.

How do you see the state of the mold and die market across the globe? There are of course huge regional differences, but overall the tool and die market is bullish. We see a clear demand for premium products in this segment and we are convinced that the Ceratizit/Komet team will have a significant market impact in the mold and die market.

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