An international technology and global market leader in high-tech tool making for plastic pipe fittings, the Upper Austrian group stands for innovative capacity and consistency.
ifw Manfred Otte GmbH celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Based in Micheldorf, the plant was established by Manfred Otte in 1969/70 and has consistently grown to become the global market leader in the development and manufacture of precision tools for fittings. Since 2007, ifw Manfred Otte GmbH has been operating as the holding company that together with ifw mould tec GmbH, ifw kunststofftechnik GmbH and the Finnish company Tooler Systems Oy forms the ifw Group. The restructuring led to ifw being ideal positioned for developing its pioneering role in core technological areas and also expanding its capacity for innovation into other sectors.
"Systematic specialisation and supplying custom solutions for fittings has been the key to success ever since the company was founded in 1969/70. What our long-standing customers appreciate in particular is our excellence in innovation, high quality of service and reliability," explains Dr. Friedrich Kastner, general manager of ifw. And he adds: "With our new test centre, we will focus more strongly on research and development (R&D) in Micheldorf in the coming years. This will enable us to continue improving the outstanding quality and precision of our tools and reduce production times for our customers."
Extensive investment in the company premises
A new, larger manufacturing building was opened on the Phyrn road in Micheldorf in 1972 and now houses ifw mould tec GmbH. Another milestone was adding 1,000 sq m floor space for engineering and assembly in 2008. In 2009, some €1.3 million was invested in building a new test centre at the ifw mould tec site. Today ifw mould tec GmbH is the global market leader in high-tech tool making for plastic pipe fittings and benefits considerably from the plant's convenient geographical location.
Clear commitment to innovation
As a technology leader, both research and development and the engineering team are of great importance to the entire ifw Group in developing product ideas and making processes more efficient. Purchasing the first injection moulding machine in 1973 not only ensured a high standard of quality in the tools manufactured, but also paved the way for many future developments. The mechanical core puller for faster set-up times and the expanding core are just some of the inventions from ifw. "We now hold a large number of patents and constantly work on new innovations. In 2008, for example, we added the innovative feature of inline printing to our ifw in-mould label & gasket development," reports Dr. Kastner.
The in-mould label & gasket process enables the gasket and custom designed labels to be integrated in a single operation during fitting manufacture. Important information, such as dimensions, standard, date, time, lot number or barcode can be included on the label inline and subsequently altered at any time.
Success factor: employees
Another important recipe for success is investing in people. The company's forward-looking approach also meant that the decision was taken early on to invest in developing a qualified, skilled workforce. Awarded a prize by the Austrian government, ifw mould tec's workshop has been training over 20 apprentices at a time to become top skilled workers since 1971. In fact, more than 200 tool and die makers have been prepared for the profession to date. Two of the very first apprentices are still employed at ifw today. "A great many of our people have been with us for several years. They not only gain a wealth of experience over time but also learn to draw on the latest findings to help us shape the company for a successful future," says Dr. Kastner.
As a result of its long-standing innovative continuity and investment in people, ifw Manfred Otte GmbH received the Silver Pegasus, Upper Austria's foremost business award, in 1997. The Group proved that this recipe for success has also worked extremely well over the past few years with the highest turnover figures in its history in 2008. The excellent operating results did not go unrecognised in 2009 when the company again received the Silver Pegasus and, despite the difficult economic times, the 2010 Bronze Pegasus on 10 June 2010.
Throughout its history, exports have accounted for the majority of ifw sales. The export share of roughly 90 percent from the Micheldorf area, which is also known locally as Plastic Valley, testifies to this fact. In recognition of its achievements, the Federal Ministry also presented ifw Manfred Otte with the Austrian Export Award in 1997.
As part of the ifw Group, ifw mould tec GmbH is specialised in high quality manufacture of tools for plastic fittings. These tools are developed for the shortest possible set-up and production cycles. ifw kunststofftechnik GmbH manufactures custom plastic components weighing anything from a few grams to over 25 kg. The third subsidiary, Tooler Systems Oy in Finland which has been a member of the Group since the end of 2007, develops modular standard tools – also for producing plastic fittings. In addition to the 40th anniversary, innovation as a success factor will be the focus at ifw's stand at the world's largest trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry – K 2010 in Dusseldorf. www.ifw.at