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“As a second tier supplier, we are committed to just-in-time.”

Interview with stoba CEO Christoph Bode about tool management and internationality

As CEO of stoba Holding, Christoph Bode is not only responsible for Precision Technology, but also for the future of the entire stoba Group. (Photo: KROMI)

As CEO of stoba Holding, Christoph Bode is not only responsible for Precision Technology, but also for the future of the entire stoba Group. (Photo: KROMI)

KROMI newsletter: Mr Bode, you took over as Managing Director of stoba Precision Technology eight years ago as the then sales director. Where did stoba stand at that time?

Bode: As a classic machining company in the automotive sector, we were facing great challenges at the time. The reliable manufacture and delivery of high-quality components was no longer enough. The market was in the process of rebuilding supplier networks according to just-in-time principles and measuring its suppliers more closely by their delivery quality. As a second-tier supplier, there was no alternative for us either.

KROMI newsletter: What changes have you made and where does stoba sand today?

Bode: At that time, there were only two paths available to a classic large-volume manufacturer: firstly, migration from a parts manufacturer to a component or system supplier by integrating further value-added steps, and secondly, internationalisation together with our first-tier customers. We have done both: formed system components from individual parts and, parallel to that, established further locations. We started in 2011 by setting up stoba UK in Great Britain. Three years later we took stoba to China and opened up stoba CN in Yantai. Then in 2016 we opened a branch in the Czech City of Brno and in 2017 one in Charleston in the USA, where we provide just-in-time supplies to the automotive industry together with one of our customers. And with the foundation of stoba e-Systems we are successfully reacting to current market changes.

KROMI newsletter: What does that mean for the German location?

Bode: Our headquarters in Backnang continues to be our development centre, both for our products and for the complex processes with which we strive for the highest level of quality and cost-effectiveness. We see the higher level of pay in Germany less as a disadvantage, and more as a motivation towards cost-efficient automation solutions. What works reliably here also works at other locations.

KROMI newsletter: What sare you expecting from the new tool management partnership with KROMI?

Bode: The topic of tool management has been firmly in focus within our company for years. The right choice of tools, and therefore indirectly the costs per component as well, is a cornerstone of our market position. The decision to tackle this issue with an external provider was the result of long and thorough deliberation. After all, a partner not only needs the necessary know-how, it must also be able to keep up with the speed at which we and our products are active within the market‘s supply pyramid.

KROMI newsletter: And how do you rate the partnership at the moment?

Bode: The professionalism with which KROMI has implemented the new logistics model for us in Backnang on the basis of the KROMI Tool Centers in such a short period of time is impressive. That has already enabled us to achieve one important goal, namely winding down our warehouse capacities. The next step now is to streamline our stock list with the tool manufacturers. During ongoing operations we can then use KROMI‘s controlling instruments via consumption monitoring to identify the potential for rationalisation. To do that, of course, we first have to develop the key figures which are relevant for us and with which we can control our production processes.

KROMI newsletter: What happens after that? Are there already plans in the pipeline?

Bode: Yes, of course we have a clear strategy worked out. After we have fully implemented KROMI‘s tool management concept here in Backnang and „run it in“ with our employees, we will do what we always do with innovative ideas: apply it to all of our plants across the world – taking into account, of course, the particular local situation. We will therefore be tackling this in close cooperation with KROMI, who will then have to build up appropriate resources of its own at the respective locations.

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