Ideal for steel? Aluminium!

6. Sep 2017 item Redaktion

Opposites attract! Which is why a long-established Austrian forge has opted for our aluminium profiles.

They’ve been manufacturing high-quality forged parts in Köflach, Austria, for 300 years. Although it started life as a classic hand tool forge, Krenhof has continuously adapted to new technical and social developments. In the 1980s, as hand tools started to play an increasingly minor role in the economy, the forge adopted a new approach, becoming a specialist in metal forming technology and a supplier to the automotive industry. While in its early days the company had a workforce of 117 and processed 1000 metric tons of steel per year, today it employs 280 members of staff who produce some 27,000 metric tons annually. When it comes to in-house die making and a recruitment project for new staff, Krenhof has chosen to opt for solutions from item.

Ergonomic industrial work benches for die making

High-quality and efficiently organized die making systems are crucial for the success of a drop forge specialist such as Krenhof. Traditionally, the company had fitted out its workshops with typical work benches based on steel profile tubes, which involved significant outlay for the numerous processing steps from welding and grinding through to priming and painting. More importantly, all these steps had to be repeated each time a work bench needed to be modified. Naturally, the attractive appearance of the item solution also played a part. 

Besides being expensive, modifying the old-style work benches in-house also took up a lot of time. Both aspects had a detrimental impact on the flexibility that was expected from the company in its role as a supplier to global companies such as MAGNA, DOKA Schalungstechnik and MAN. All these reasons persuaded Krenhof to fit out its workshop with our flexible and ergonomic Work Bench System – a move that perfectly reflects its own motto: “A little bit better every day”. Since then, over a period of around five years, many of the former steel constructions have been replaced.

Encouraging young people to go into industry

Krenhof is not just using item components to ensure it can be flexible and efficient in how it responds to customer requirements. Like many other small and medium-sized enterprises, the drop forge specialist is also facing difficulties finding appropriately qualified and motivated apprentices for industrial roles. Krenhof also sees employee retention as a key element of its expertise in metal forming technology, the basis for which is rooted in ensuring the best possible apprenticeship training. 

In the ideal scenario, future apprentices would decide whilst at school which career they want to pursue and pick out a suitable company. The education system in Austria includes a special type of school that aims to meet that need – the “Polytechnic School” (PTS). Students start at a PTS once they have completed their lower secondary education and spend the remaining years of their compulsory education there, studying to take up an apprenticeship or start at a vocational college. Their studies include an extensive practical element, which is often delivered in cooperation with local companies.

Practical project – measurement bench from item 

The extensive practical elements of studies at a PTS include regular project days in the school’s own workshop facilities. One of these projects, which focused on “5S in the workplace”, was based around producing a custom-configured measurement bench. To give the students participating in this project a realistic impression of the state-of-the-art working processes at Krenhof, they were provided with components from the MB Building Kit System in collaboration with our Austrian partner Haberkorn

The impressive end result was built using mostly 160x40 profiles. More significant, however, is the fact that the measurement table was made a permanent fixture of the PTS workshop, so that future generations of students will be able to use it. The project also proved to be an out-and-out success for Krenhof, too. Three of the students who were involved have since decided to take up a training post at the company.

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