Since its foundation in Bavaria in 1890, Scherdel GmbH has demonstrated a heritage built on progression and innovation, having acknowledged the widespread emphasis on new technologies as a key driver for growth. Having taken its first step into the automotive sector with the supply of valve springs for the first diesel engine, Scherdel is now recognised as a global supplier to the industry, and the European market leader for the manufacture of valve springs as well as the world market leader in the field of spring elements for piston rings. With a presence in 29 locations worldwide, today Scherdel remains family-run and is operated under a third and fourth generation management team from its headquarters in Marktredwitz, Germany.
Head of purchasing and materials management, Olaf Korf explains: “Our core business is technical spring manufacture and metal forming through processes such as stamping and bending as well as the assembly of seating structures for vehicle interiors. Approximately 80 to 90 per cent of our activity is within the automotive sector, where we supply all European OEMs including VW Group, BMW Group and Daimler as well as tier one suppliers like Bosch, Johnson Controls, Schaeffler TRW and ZF.”
In terms of the characteristics that have enabled the business to achieve this position, Olaf comments: “It’s the development, innovation and complete process that we offer our client. As part of this we work closely with our suppliers on the development of new kind of wires and other materials, which then is directly linked to our research and development activities. Again, this informs our production processes where we create in-house tools for our stamping and bending machines, as well as surface treatment services, and finally we also offer a suitable logistics solution to clients. Effectively, we are able to provide the whole value added chain from initial concept to final delivery service to our clients.”
As well as contributing to the continued development of the business, Scherdel’s supply chain is a vital aspect of its delivery to customers: “It is very important to have a strong supply chain, as the demands of the automotive industry are so high. Additionally, it is essential that we work alongside suppliers that have a global presence, so that we are able to continue to offer a localised service to our entire international client base,” says Olaf.
“We also manufacture machinery for our own purposes, as well as for the wider market under our own brand,” he continues. “Within this area we are also working to instigate greater automation, both in-house and in our product range through specialist machines for production and assembly.” This includes semi-automatic assembly workstations, handling equipment, and fully automated fabrication, assembly and testing equipment.
One particular specialisation of the business is the valve spring – an area Scherdel has been involved in since 1893. These components, which are extremely highly stressed, are experiencing increasingly severe demands for ever-increasing quality due to the automotive industry’s constantly growing pressure for optimisation. Therefore the latest design methods, dynamic pre-calculation and highperformance measurement and testing technologies are incorporated to ensure that each component conforms to customer specification.
In this respect, the demand profile of a new valve spring is always produced in close agreement with the customer. This includes cinematic observation of the valve train to establish load levels, and the static design of the spring. Furthermore, improvement ofmaterial surface can extend service intervals, and the use of high-value materials and innovative processes results in products of the highest quality and maximum reliability.
These capabilities alongside Scherdel’s strong cooperative relationship with the automotive industry means that the business is positioned at the forefront of new innovative car concepts. Within this scope, Scherdel is able to bring its wealth of expertise to help solve client problems through a whole range of engineering springs, as well as stamping, bending and assembly parts. The company’s technical competency also enables it to supply clients with capable and costoptimised prototype and small component runs.
Although Scherdel is developing constantly as a company, it is not merely concentrating on investing in its product portfolio. “As well as our activities in the automotive industry, we also continue to identify new market opportunities for the business – both geographical and field of application,” explains Olaf. “Notably, this includes medical and energy applications and the growing electric mobility sector. In turn, this has required us to expand our capabilities to new material, such as copper based alloys, and new processes to treat this material, such as increased laser applications.
“Over the last three years we have invested around six per cent of our turnover in machinery, infrastructure, and technology. This was in line with our strategy to continue to develop within Europe, particularly in Germany, as well as developing further markets overseas like the US, Brazil, Mexico and China. In late 2010 we established a new plant in Russia, and are currently completing expansions in the NAFTA region. As a business, we strive to be able to support our clients through a local presence, and therefore are looking at various opportunities within India from next year,” he adds.
This increased diversification is at the heart of Scherdel’s future progression strategy, however the business remains vigilant of the ongoing challenges in the market. Key considerations are the ongoing economic difficulties within southern Europe, as well as the volatility of raw materials. However, Scherdel seems confident in its capability to continue in its tradition of delivering components that exceedindustry criteria: “Continuing to develop new global markets is very important to the business,” concludes Olaf. “But beyond that, we believe that it is critical that we maintain the flexibility and independence of a medium-sized family owned company, as it is these qualities that give us the power to develop in the market and follow the demands of our customers.”
Products: Technical springs, machine and tool construction