Interview: Rocco Montalenti, General Manager for Business Area Technologies at Güdel
Güdel at a glance
Güdel is a Swiss, family-owned company in third generation, established in 1954, which employs about 1,200 people worldwide. The company’s revenue has grown to around 350 million Swiss francs per year (USD 360 million). We operate in some 30 locations in 20 countries – 12 countries in Europe, two in North America, one in South America, and five countries in Asia. The company boasts quite a large portfolio, including automatic stacking of transformers cores.
We are a global company, but at the same time a very Swiss company, as half of our people and half of our turnover is in Switzerland. This is home not only to our management headquarters, but also our engineering, as well as the manufacturing of all precision components that Güdel has grown on.
Güdel covers several areas, including the manufacturing of components and large modules such as linear guides for robots and gantry robots, used for the production of complete systems and large press lines to produce metal sheet parts for the automotive industry. They are also used in the production of power trains, for the logistics systems and the production of tires and wheels.
Developing new business in Güdel
At Güdel, I am the General Manager for Business Area Technologies. Besides our main business areas, we are also looking at other fields where our products may be relevant. In doing so, we are trying to get a deeper insight into these fields in order to understand the processes within and gain the competences required to become a specialist, so that we can grow and develop new business units within these industries.
These new fields and technologies are my responsibility. Today, we mainly speak about the transformer industry, tires and wheel industry, and the aerospace business. I got introduced to transformers, as a user, when I was with Bombardier, a train manufacturer. They were smaller transformers but I learnt a lot about their lifetime, design, number of windings, all different features from the user’s point of view. At Güdel, we find our technologies and the precision mechanics very important in transformer manufacturing – core stacking at least. From here we will see if there is another area of transformer manufacturing where this can be applied.
Business built on precision mechanics
Throughout our development, we never lost sight of our core competence, which is precision manufacturing, and this is why we still produce 100 % of linear mechanics in house, even today. So, if you find a system with a Güdel box anywhere in the world, you will know it was made in house here in Switzerland, and then exported to the rest of the world. It might sound as a paradox, but more than one third of our business is in China, but we are a company doing our mechanical manufacturing in Switzerland and then exporting it to China – almost like the world turned upside down. However, these are the rules and we stick to them. We are not an integrator as such, or a company developing solutions and applications by integrating different parts. We develop the solutions and applications by using the strength of precision mechanics, and this is what makes us different from other companies.