Q: Hahn Group has 12 company brands and employs 1,400 employees at 24 locations. Are these factories/production facilities?
Hähn: Yes, we do have 24 locations in 13 countries: in Austria, China, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Great Britain, India, Israel, Mexico, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey and the USA. Of these locations, 20 are actually manufacturing locations, while the remaining focus on service for local markets and management.
Q: Of the 12 company brands that make up Hahn Group, I am interested in the ones that are part of the material handling division: GeKu, Waldorf Technik and Wemo. And, of course, Rethink Robotics and RobShare.
Hähn: GeKu is specialized in individual automation solutions for plastics, rubber and metal processing companies. Located in Diepenau, Germany, the supplier of individual total and partial automation and its 84 employees have been dealing with handling technology for almost 25 years. More than 3,000 automation solutions, system robots and peripheral solutions document the performance and quality of GeKu. For each new project GeKu uses its technical know-how and experience for the highest benefit of its customers.
Waldorf Technik is specialized in automation for injection molding processes in the medical and packaging industries. The company currently employs approximately 100 at its headquarters in Engen, Germany. Based on more than 30 years of experience, automation from Waldorf Technik excels with cycle times between 2-20 seconds and a high number of cavities. With the market launch of Vario TIP — the globally leading system concept to manufacture pipette tips and blood reagent containers — Waldorf Technik further strengthened its position in the market.
Wemo Automation is one of the leading international manufacturers of linear robot systems and automation cells for the plastics industry. Rethink Robotics GmbH is a pioneer in the field of collaborative robot solutions and serves as a strong and reliable partner for manufacturers of every size and industry. Hahn RobShare is revolutionizing the market with smart collaborative robots in industry and service.
Q: Your growth strategy in this area seems to be by making acquisitions. Can you talk about that?
Hähn: The Hahn Group’s growth strategy is built on four factors, which come together to give us the most effective and sustainable basis for future development. By looking into our portfolio and how to expand, we particularly focus on industries, technologies, regions and business models. This means each of our companies has a unique position within this strategy as well as the divisions and industries. This makes sure that we continue to grow with high synergies and a diversified portfolio of brands at the same time.
For example, within the division material handling, we have recently founded Hahn Plastics Automation to further improve service within North America. In regards of technology, we are still leading innovation with Wemo’s x-packer series, the WIPS 4.0 software and the linear pickers. Waldorf Technik is shaping the market in medical devices with its Vario TIP System. All of these products will also be presented at K 2019 in Düsseldorf.
Q: Plastics News Europe, our sister publication, reported that in 2015, Hahn Automation Components GmbH merged with Wemo, and it was called Wemo Automation GmbH. Why was this done?
Hähn: First, Hahn Automation acquired Remak, a German-leading company for linear robots in the plastics industry in 2007. Additionally, in 2010, Geiger Handling Systems of Switzerland merged into Hahn Automation Components as well. Hahn Automation Components GmbH merged into Wemo in 2015. Therefore, three key players in the market were under one roof of Wemo.
In 2014, RSBG, as I mentioned above, invested in Hahn and with that, in 2015, Hahn had the possibility to invest in Wemo, which is now part of the Hahn Group, and is positioned in the material handling division.
Q: The big news, also in 2018, was that Hahn bought the cobot technology of Rethink Robotics, specifically the Sawyer cobot. Are you manufacturing the Sawyer? What is your view of the future of cobots?
Hähn: Hahn Group bought the assets of Rethink Robotics. That means we are owners of the hardware and the software, and with our German engineering know-how, we are continuing to further develop both.
The focus of Rethink Robotics’ products is very much on the technology of collaborative robotics. A lot of the easy-to-automate tasks have already been automated using large industrial robots. However, companies with smaller production facilities, have different automation needs. This is where Sawyer comes into the picture. It can handle monotonous tasks, meaning that employees are free to work on more challenging tasks within the company.
It is also very flexible: An industrial robot is typically only useful for one specific application, whereas Sawyer can be flexibly programmed to suit each individual task. Typical industrial robots have to be bolted to the floor and closed off to prevent accidents with human workers. In contrast, Sawyer constantly monitors how much force it applies during a task and is aware of the position of its arm. There is also collision control, meaning that the cobot immediately stops in its tracks if it detects a collision with a worker.
Here at the K show, you can see Sawyer for a palletizing and packaging application. This is something for which Sawyer is the perfect fit, as it will help employees with the pick-and-place task.
In addition, we further develop the applications for Sawyer. One of the strongest assets of Sawyer is that he is highly accepted by humans. Therefore, we are developing service applications with Sawyer and will step into new and innovative markets.