Nearly every composite project will require some cutting at the preparation stage. In a Q&A session, Robuso’s product manager, Dennis Weber explains why it’s important your shears and scissors selection matches the quality of the composite parts you plan to produce.
As one of Europe’s leading shears manufacturers, Robuso provides a comprehensive range of hand-crafted hand and electrical shears that are designed to provide the complete solution for cutting a number of composite materials and technical fabrics. The company says it is meeting industry demands with hand shears that are almost entirely handmade and are adjusted to perfection by skilled craftsmen - every blade is uniquely tailored.
Q) Firstly, why are special shears needed for composite materials as opposed to using conventional scissors?
Composite materials or technical fibres and textiles are much more robust and tear-resistant than conventional textiles. For example, carbon fibre and glass fibre materials are very wear-intensive for standard tools. We recognised this very early on and used different coatings and other materials for our shears when the trend was still towards lightweight fibres.
Q) Bring me up to date with the latest news regarding any process improvement methods employed within the company?
We have established a continuous improvement process in our company. For example, our production now works more according to a Lean manufacturing method, which results in a more reliable and faster production of our shears. In addition, we are always working on developing and offering suitable cutting solutions for new technical fibres.
Q) What kind of performance requirements do today’s customers place on you?
That's a good question. I always try to give the customer the right tools. The problem with new customers is that they don't always know exactly which tool is best for their material, so we offer all our customers the chance to test it before we make an offer. My task in technical sales is to look after our customers and support them during home visits in order to define and improve processes. This is a topic that our customers like to take up.
Q) In your experience, what industry trends are most noticeable at present?
Wind energy or rotor blade construction has suffered somewhat due to the closure of large German manufacturers, but is still a large industry. Aircraft construction is always a hot topic for lightweighting - just like motorsport or the automotive industry. Here, a downward trend can be felt due to Covid-19, but this is going up again. Cars will always be built, but the drives will change. However, due to the electric motors or the batteries, the cars are now even heavier. This requires even more lightweight components in the cars. In these industries, many hand tools and shears are brought into circulation.
Q) Is there a particular customer product or application that stands out and has given you a lot of pleasure?
I am often asked by manufacturers of technical textiles or universities whether I can support them in the production of new fibres and fabrics that are difficult to cut efficiently. We then develop prototypes that can cut these materials. This is always a lot of fun for me!
Q) Do you find the current manufacturing industry an easy industry to do business in and to keep up with changing trends, prices and new laws?
Our scissors are made with approximately 80% manual labour by skilled employees. This is our quality standard ‘made in Solingen’ and will not change. Every customer who buys a pair of scissors gets a handmade product from Solingen, Germany. Most of our customers appreciate our work and quality.
Of course it’s different with new customers, as we first have to convince them of our price to performance ratio. We don’t offer average or mediocre products at low prices - others do that. We sell handmade quality at a fair price and always try to keep up with the constantly fluctuating market.
Q) In your opinion, what are the most important assets of a company?
The Solingen location is of course very important for us as a producer. However, without our experienced employees and a functioning strategy, we wouldn’t be as successful as we have been for over 100 years. New strategies and ideas that enable us to adapt to the market are very important and we have always solved these tasks well.
Q) What did you do to get through the pandemic crisis, i.e. advice on staff leave, grants, funding, etc.?
We were well prepared as we had been following the news regularly since December 2020. It was only a matter of time before the virus reached Europe and Germany. In order to protect our employees and keep the company running, the sales and administration departments have moved to home offices. We have divided production into two groups so that in the event of a virus illness, one team can still work actively.
We had already made plans in case sales collapsed by focusing more on online retail for private customers. In addition, during the pandemic we took over two Solingen-based companies specialising in the manufacture of hair scissors, which also generated good sales to private customers because the hairdressers were not allowed to open their shops during the many lockdowns.
Q) What kind of industrial landscape will we be confronted with when everything gets back to normal?
I fear that the pandemic has already cost a lot of jobs, and not just in Germany. It's like the big stock market crash – overnight, companies have no more money. It's very sad. Only the innovative and strong survive is probably a scary example of this. I hope everything moves more in the direction of quality again. We have to get away from this ‘throwaway’ society.
Q) Would you say that your long-standing partnerships have brought great benefits, especially since trusted relationships can lead to a better way for everyone?
Yes, of course. We have always stood by our partners. The UK has also been hit very badly and sales have plummeted. Here we have always been in dialogue, so that when the market relaxes and clears up, we will all be in a position to do good business again - we are convinced of this. I wish everyone good luck and perseverance!
Q) Finally, where next for Robuso?
We now have three companies to run. Robuso is the parent company of two smaller companies, which means adapting to new things and a lot of work for all of us. It is fun to work like this and to get to know new products, gather expertise and hopefully to market them successfully. There is a lot to do!