CALW, Germany - For 50 years, the mechanical engineering company HOLZMA has embodied top quality and high precision in panel cutting. The story began with the founding of HOLZMA in 1966. At that time, it was new technical developments that drove the rapid growth of the company. Today, it is also optimally networked technologies and innovations for highly efficient production processes. HOLZMA offers its customers all this from a single source, allowing everything to be coordinated individually and flexibly from the start. Being a member of the HOMAG Group contributes to making this possible.
It is all this that characterizes the Swabian saw manufacturer, which is celebratingits 50th anniversary this year.
"We are Panel Dividing" sums up five decades of HOLZMA. It is also the motto for the anniversary celebrations. This is because the heart of the company are the people: from 1966 down to the present day, it has been the generations of highly qualified employees, with their ideas and skills, that have taken HOLZMA from literally being a "garage company" to its present position as world market leader in panel dividing technology.
Some 420 people are currently employed at the company headquarters in Calw-Holzbronn alone. In addition to this, there are the skilled employees at other production bases, for example in Barcelona, Shanghai, Sao Paulo and Bangalore. Together, they are Panel Dividing – as the Business Unit Panel Dividing within the HOMAG Group, to which HOLZMA has belonged since 1987.
The beginnings: full of courage and entrepreneurial spirit
The success story started with Erwin Jenkner, who, as founding father, shaped HOLZMA with his creativeness, courage, and entrepreneurial spirit for a long time. When he had the name HOLZMA registered in May 1966, it was already a household name among window manufacturers - not yet for saws but certainly for machines for drilling, routing and inserting fittings as used in the manufacturing of composite windows.
From as early as the mid 1950s onwards, Erwin Jenkner, then a self-employed sales representative, had already had special-purpose machines built according to his own specifications. The first series machine went into production in 1965. It was produced by PFLUKA in Ofterdingen and already sold under the name of HOLZMA. The first international success came with the series 26 models, of which more than several thousand were built. These were drilling and assembly tools for concealed hinges.
In 1967, the big day finally came: Erwin Jenkner went into production himself in a bus garage and, with the help of just two employees, built the first horizontal saw with a saw unit running under the table. The model served mainly to cut solid wood. It was already equipped with a hydraulic drive unit, but still lacked a pressure beam and a scoring saw.
The growth: faster than the competition
When a growing demand for saws capable of cutting melamine-laminated chipboard became apparent, Erwin Jenkner instigated the construction of the next saw generation. Detlef Jenkner, son of the company founder, was responsible for the new development. He was studying mechanical engineering in Constance at the time and, alongside this, took on the design work. He officially joined the company in 1969, thereby increasing the number of employees to six. Then, in 1970, the first panel saw with pressure beam and electronically controlled lateral fence rolled out of the company. From then on, HOLZMA equipped all saws with a scoring unit that was adjustable horizontally and vertically from the outside.
The company was growing faster and faster. There was no longer enough space in the garage. The owners therefore decided to purchase a plot of land in nearby Holzbronn and build the new headquarters there. They completed the building work themselves, but only on Saturdays, because during the week they were busy selling saws. After over a year of construction, the company moved from Gechingen to Holzbronn in 1971. At the new location, eight employees produced panel saws for the world market on an initial area of 1500 m². By comparison, the facility in Holzbronn today boasts a production area of around 30,000 m²!
The internationalization: in leaps and bounds
In the same year as the relocation took place, HOLZMA supplied the first machine for cutting strips to England. It already featured a fully automatic destacking system for the cut books. One year later, the company booked its first order for an angular saw unit. The order read quite simply and precisely: "Fully automatic angular system, 2500 x 1250 mm, as discussed … 476,000.00 DM".
The company was now achieving annual growth rates between 10 and 30 percent. The export ratio rose to up to 90 percent and by the mid 1970s HOLZMA was already supplying customers in Australia, North America and the Far East. When, in the late 70s, the use of chipboard and MDF boards increased sharply in North America, HOLZMA, in the meantime with a workforce of 130, decided to take the big step across the Atlantic. This led to the founding of HOLZMA U.S., Sales and Service, in Gastonia, North Carolina in 1981. The USA became HOLZMA's strongest export market. HOLZMA was soon supplying more machines to the USA than to the home market.
The independent company HOLZMA US no longer exists today. It was initially taken over by the well-known trading company Stiles Machinery, which has itself been a member of the HOMAG Group since 2015.
In the HOMAG Group: established as world market leader
In 1986, today's HOMAG Group AG was looking for a specialist for horizontal beam saws. HOLZMA seized this opportunity for further growth and, with its 220 employees, joined the HOMAG Group in 1987. The HOMAG Group initially held 51 percent of the company's shares and currently owns 100 percent.
Scarcely three years after joining the HOMAG Group, HOLZMA had virtually doubled its workforce and established itself as world market leader for panel saws. The trademark HOLZMA has maintained this position to this day and continues to expand its global presence, together with the HOMAG Group in the industry's largest sales and support network, but above all by means of a strong, broad-based portfolio of high-tech solutions revolving around panel cutting.
The product portfolio today: solutions from size S to XXL
For cutting wood, plastics and many other materials in panel form, HOLZMA customers have, for 50 years, been able to choose from a range of saws and solutions that meet the specific demands of both industry and the craft sector. This is ensured today by a maximum of flexibility in machine configuration stretching across the entire product range. Regardless of whether he chooses an entry-level saw from the 1 or 2 series or a classic HOLZMA saw from the 3 or 4 series, or invests in an industrial-scale model from the 5 or 6 series, the customer will always benefit from a basic machine with leading-edge technology and enormous potential for customization thanks to needs-based optional features.
As world market leader in horizontal panel dividing technology, HOLZMA thinks far beyond the cutting process. Modern production requires efficient, seamless and ergonomic processes from the store to the saw and on to the finished product. In this age of digitalization, the key to success is increasingly the software. The shrewd Swabian company recognized this at an early stage and offers today two of the most important software solutions for cutting panel-shaped wood and plastic materials: its machine control software CADmatic and the HOLZMA optimization software Cut Rite. This package of solutions is complemented by needs-based handling systems and ever more intelligent networking with upstream and downstream machines.
HOLZMA customers benefit from this today more than ever, for example by working with automatic saw-storage combinations from the HOMAG Group or investing in complete interlinked systems. In either case, they invest in powerful turnkey solutions that are already precisely coordinated and can be upgraded with additional modules in keeping with the motto "Growing with the HOMAG Group".
The future: HOLZMA is constantly shaping the future with new ideas
The spirit of inventiveness has always been at home in HOLZMA's factory and is the key to its success. The many inventions of the company founder and all later generations are evidence of this. A quick run though some of the patents and inventions: an early milestone was Erwin Jenkner's introduction of clamps on the program fence. This technical innovation made reliable positioning of books of panels and dimensionally accurate cutting of thin and wavy material possible for the first time. Today, clamps are a standard feature in panel cutting technology throughout the world.
In addition, Erwin Jenkner was also the "father" of the square panel saw (cutting length = cutting width). The advantage was that this design of the rear machine table, in conjunction with the clamps and a higher program fence speed, made real one-man operation of a beam saw possible. This concept was initially underestimated by competitors, but subsequently gained worldwide recognition. Another of the company founder's international patents also set new technological standards. It concerned the suspension of the machine supports in the two frame stands and was as simple as it was ingenious. Prior to the expiry of the patent there were regular attempts to copy it illegally. Today, this design principle is a global standard.
Technical innovations of this excellence and influence do not occur by chance. They are the result of an inherent attitude that is culturally embedded at HOLZMA and has been so for five decades. Open-mindedness, inquisitiveness and the willingness to exchange experience and knowledge with customers are the hallmarks of this attitude. In practice, this means that HOLZMA experts monitor trends very closely and listen carefully to customers and experienced practitioners, so that they can respond faster than others and develop the right technologies for the latest challenges at an early stage. No less than 65 HOLZMA patents were granted in the last ten years alone. There is a clear aim behind all these innovations: the focus is always on improving manufacturing quality and increasing flexibility and efficiency in the production process, while bearing in mind the needs of the customer. The means of achieving this are automation, networked machines and freely flowing processes – from the warehouse via the office to the cutting process and on to all other processing stations.
An example of this is the new HPS 320 flexTec; with this system, HOLZMA has revolutionized the cutting process in batch size 1 production. This cutting cell is purpose-designed for processing single panels and completely redefines the parts flow. Key features are fully automated processes and unlimited recuts. In addition to this, the HOLZMA HPP 300 multiTec has recently opened up undreamt-of possibilities. This new development allows customers to complete three processing steps on one machine: sawing, drilling and routing. Ready-to-assemble elements can be produced, for example for facade and partition wall construction, or for the manufacture of concrete formwork.
These innovations are joined by others, for example the new HOLZMA dustEx technology for significantly improved extraction, or intelligent add-on solutions such as the operator assistance system that will in future guide the saw operator more intuitively and reliably through individual processing steps. It is precisely here, according to HOLZMA, that there is still enormous potential that should, in future, be more strongly utilized to increase efficiency and productivity both in the trade sector and in industry.
The team: "We are Panel Divding"
It is well known that behind a good idea there are always clever minds. At HOLZMA, many good ideas come up every day, generated in a unique team, where young people just starting their careers work together with very experienced and highly qualified colleagues, many of whom have been with HOLZMA for decades. They are regularly joined by new external specialists, who provide fresh perspectives and new impetus. Everyone, whether junior employee or old hand, contributes their experience, their expertise and often very specific know-how.
Take for example vocational training: the 420 or so employees at the Holzbronn site regularly include some 40 apprentices and student trainees. The current rate is in the region of 10 percent. This makes the company not only one of the largest in the area in this respect, but also one of the best, as confirmed by the award "A1 Apprenticing Company" from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
HOLZMA invests a great deal in training and so in its own future. The company aims to keep on as many of these junior employees as possible after they have successfully completed their training, the intention being to secure today the much needed skilled workers of tomorrow. This paves the way for the future. The team is on this path under the banner of "We are Panel Dividing" and is already looking forward to the the challenges of tomorrow.
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