As a company in business for more than 125 years, Alfred Heinrich Schütte ? and now its Michigan subsidiary ? has evolved.
Situated in Jackson, Michigan, Schütte USA is a full-service subsidiary of a family-owned German company, Alfred Heinrich Schütte — a leading, globally operating manufacturer of machine tools, including multi-spindle automatics and five-axis computer numerical control (CNC) grinding machines.
Schütte is known for its experience across the spectrum of manufacturing, according to Ryan Cole, applications engineer.
“First and foremost, we have been in business since 1880,” he says.
The German company, based in Cologne, remains family owned and privately held, Cole says.
“For most of the people I run into in the U.S., they like hearing that,” Cole says. “That indicates that we have been able to survive and thrive, without needing any other type of capital investment or venture capital.”
The U.S. branch is full-service, offering machine installations, training, service, equipment and also replacement parts.
The automotive industry is Schütte’s predominant target market, but the company’s multispindle automatics also are valuable within hydraulic fittings and in components for the faucet, pneumatic and electronics industries.
There are three predominant series offerings in Schütte’s multi-spindle automatics, Cole says.
“The multi-spindles are used in the production of transmission spool valves, fuel rail system components, brake system parts, and various fittings and connectors ,” Cole says. “We can cover those components within all industries.”
The newest, series SCX, realizes in full — and for the first time — the vision of the “multi single-spindle automatic” that provides access to a variety of machining processes as part of a highly productive machine concept, which makes resetting easy and operation simple.
The SCX can include up to 60 axes, is highly flexible and can be delivered in six to nine spindles — up to a 46-millimeter bar size. Other important features are:
• An easily accessible machining area;
• Drives, guideways, lubricant/coolant hoses or cables not in machining area;
• Unhindered chip drop;
• Simple resetting and tooling;
• Free speed selection in any position; and
• A range of machining applications, including C-and Y-axis to the machine second side of a component.
The company’s PC series — a full CNC machine that it has six to eight spindles and goes up to the 51-millimeter-diameter bar — are highly efficient production tools that manufacture complex turned parts.
Flexibility assures production of small and medium-sized components in mass production. Functions range beyond turning situations, allowing complete machining of each work piece, including threading and milling, polygon turning and off-center drilling.
In Schütte’s G Series are multi-spindle automatics that cover a range of small, turned parts — up to a diameter of 20 millimeters.
They combine the speed and reliability of cam drives with the flexibility of CNC technology and are available in 6- and 8-spindle models.
Schütte’s linear-drive technology grinders are known for precision and high output.
With five CNC axes and anti-backlash direct drives — driven by linear motors — the Schütte 325 Series Grinder is exceptionally fast, but still accurate.
The result is a better grinding performance, better surface finish and greater precision.
The company’s micro tool technology — also available in the Schütte 325 Series model — creates accurate guidance and low vibration grinding through a patented guide system.
Modular software, designed by Schütte, simplifies grinding operations and programming in the company’s SIGS (Schütte Integrated Grinding Software) Pro.
Adept at Adapting
Seasoned at watching technology and market trends, Schütte continues to innovate — to offer solutions for market needs and to adapt to changes in materials or technologies.
“We see what the market is looking for and what types of components are being developed,” Cole says. “We are continuously innovating our machines to achieve those finishes and the tolerances those would require.
“We look at market, talk to customers,” Cole adds. “We see the different materials developed by the designers of the original equipment manufacturers.”
Injector systems are a good example.
“There, they developed more uses for stainless steel, which is very strong and rust-resistant and can handle a lot of pressure,” Cole says. “It is a key in driving some of the fuel economy of the future for the injection systems.”
But the stainless steel is more difficult to work with, and Schütte had to adapt its multi-spindles to still be effective and productive with those tougher materials.
“We have to think about different ways to accommodate that,” Cole says.
Rolling with the Changes
Throughout the changes, the primitive principle of the company remains: to concentrate on providing customers with machinery that totally satisfies their needs.
The U.S. arm of Schütte utilizes a total quality approach to both development and production.
Meanwhile, the company continues to invest heavily in equipment and the total work environment, aiming to further its state-of-the-art products.
That includes software that is machine-specific for equipment, Cole says.
“We developed that to make it as user-friendly as possible for people who would be operating the machines,” he says. “We also have recognized the need for training.
“That’s something customers are focused on,” Cole adds. “They just don’t have the people, and the training makes a difference for them.”
Staff members have been dedicated to developing new training processes and tailoring packages specifically for customers, Cole adds.
The company also is working to bridge a talent gap with a three-and-a-half-year apprenticeship university, housed at the German facility. There are 66 students enrolled.
“Being over 125 years old — there are not many companies who can say that,” Cole says. “We are one of the premier innovators.”