Clean cuts thanks to water jet technology
As part of the ALLFI Group with more than 50 employees, ALLFI AG evolved to a specialized company for the development, manufacture, and sale of high-quality components for high-pressure waterjet cutting. The company from the Swiss town of Stans operates internationally and does supply its customers quickly and flexibly thanks to its efficient warehouse management and well thought-out logistics.
Economic Forum: Mr. Meyer, how did ALLFI AG water jet cutting technology come about?
Beat Meyer: After completing my secondary school diploma and studying business administration, I then worked in medical technology. When I turned 30, I had the absolute urge to start my own business. While I was working in management consulting, I shared an office with two colleagues who were active in waterjet technology. Then in 1991 we had the idea of founding a company, more than a hobby, that supplies components for waterjet technology. After one of the colleagues left, we ran the company more like amateurs’, before we really got into our own production in 2001. 2009 was another milestone with the construction of our company building. Another important step was the establishment of the ALLFI Group in 2018 with the acquisition of the Robotic division.
Economic Forum: You now have more than one location.
Beat Meyer: That's right. Our ‘Components’ division, in other words waterjet technology, is present in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the USA, China, Japan, Brazil and South Africa. Our ‘Robotics’ segment is of course represented in Switzerland as well as in the USA and China. The production of this division is also located in Shanghai, China.
Economic Forum: Where are your technologies used today?
Beat Meyer: In addition to the automotive industry, our customers come from mechanical engineering, the stone and glass industry and the food industry. In the food industry, for example, bread, meat, fish and vegetables are cut using our technology. In contrast to cutting with knives, nothing sticks to us and therefore the cutting process is also more hygienic. We also supply the aerospace industry, and the plastics processing industry also likes to use our waterjet technology.
Economic forum: And what components do you supply your customers with?
Beat Meyer: We are of course an original equipment manufacturer and supply the OEMs, i.e., the machine builders who in return supply the end customers. The components business is a process business. Here we usually deliver the required parts within 24 hours. The ‘Robotics’ division, on the other hand, is a project business. With the confirmed order, we receive a deposit and then deliver the system within five to six months. We deliver high-pressure pumps, as well as the required high-pressure pipes, valves and seals as well as cutting heads, abrasive systems, machine elements and operating materials. In addition, of course, there is our service for repair and maintenance, upgrades and conversions as well as the delivery of spare parts. We carry out repair and service work within Europe with our specially equipped service vehicles.
Economic forum: How important is the aftermarket for you?
Beat Meyer: Our strategy from the beginning has been that we want to keep a long-term relationship to our customers. Once you are in this business and do a good job, stay in it.
Economic forum: How is your turnover distributed between the two divisions?
Beat Meyer: Components accounts for approximately three quarters of the turnover. This applies to both the after-market and the machine suppliers. The remaining quarter is made up of project business for the automotive industry. Here our own parts are integrated into the robots. These robots are responsible for all cutting processes inside the car and cut, among other things, carpets, headliners, fleece in the trunk and door panels.
Economic Forum: What makes you different from your competitors on the market?
Beat Meyer: Thanks to our production in China, we at ALLFI Robotics can manufacture various components very cheaply. In the Robotics division, we impress with availability, affordability, reliability and sustainability.
Economic forum: How did Corona affect your industry?
Beat Meyer: We suffered a lot from Corona, as the automotive industry almost came to a complete standstill.
Economic forum: You are in a high-tech market. What role does digitization play for you?
Beat Meyer: Digitization is an important topic for us. Maybe not so much in terms of technology, but more in our internal processes. Many meetings are now taking place digitally, we have an integrated ISO 9001 system, and we use shared servers.
Economic forum: What does the future of the ALLFI Group look like?
Beat Meyer: In the next five years we would like to further expand our position in our existing markets. We would like to expand customer maintenance, component repairs and customer training at our locations. Of course, we would also like to win new customers. We are also looking for better and more integrated solutions for our web shops in the various markets.