LiCON surprisingly positive
The manufacturer of machining centers and rotary transfer machines based in Laupheim, not far from Ulm, surprises with a positive business development despite the mechanisms of the current Corona situation.
Finally getting out and enjoying the smell of production. After months in Corona home office exile, more than a successful change. But what awaits me at LiCON? Already the journey to the company headquarters in Laupheim brought the first surprise. The employee parking lot was filled and trucks were waiting to be loaded or unloaded.
Armed with a mask and the usual utensils, we went to the beautifully designed reception area and, after a friendly welcome, first took advantage of the disinfectant at the dispenser.
In fact, LiCON had three cases of corona right at the beginning of the pandemic and had to respond consistently. The distances between workplaces were increased and various additional precautions were taken. With success! To date, the company has not had any further corona cases. However, due to the additional space required, the R&D department was unceremoniously prescribed home office.
Surprising 1 - Lack of space in Corona times
The filled employee parking lot was not a mirage. Both the offices and the production areas were bustling with activity. Surprising considering that the customers and projects are mainly in the automotive sector (!). But how is that possible in times when the automotive industry is reporting declining sales figures?
Winfried Benz, managing director and co-owner of Licon mt GmbH & Co. KG, explains: "In the first half of the year and even a little beyond, we are benefiting from orders or projects that we have already received in 2019 and even before that. But, after all, that doesn't change the fact that the automotive industry is also suffering due to anti-incineration engine policies. "We are and have also been lucky to land new and very complex projects outside the combustion engine," said Winfried Benz and showed in a presentation various, current and impressive examples, such as fully automated production lines for chassis parts.
Surprising 2 - 20% increase compared to the previous year
To achieve a 20% increase in earnings in 2020 in times of crisis is, after all, extraordinary for the external eye. LiCON still has an order backlog for the second half of the year, but Winfried Benz makes no secret of the fact that despite the current good results, the crisis has left its mark on the order intake for the current year. Added to this are the cancelled trade fairs, such as the AMB in Stuttgart, in order to be able to present new products live.
Surprising 3 - Orders from Germany, China and USA
The projects currently in the order pipeline are predominantly from Germany, China and the USA. In China and the USA, the company has had a local sales and service company since 2012 and 2002 respectively. A step that has paid off to date.
The current projects are complex and fully automated production lines or stations based on LiFLEX machining centers and rotary transfer machines. LiCON plans and manufactures most of the automation components itself, including the workpiece clamping systems and pallet changers.
The complete systems are assembled in the LiCON factory and in many cases remain installed there for the production of prototypes or pilot series. In these cases, the installation at the customer's site takes place shortly before the start of series production. This is a convenient option for customers, since the system has already been run in and tested under practical conditions at the start of series production.
Winfried Benz sees the future increasingly in automation and robotics, as well as in the challenge of making machines and systems as vibration-free as possible. With the current projects, LiCON has already arrived in the middle of the issue.
Not surprising - on the outside "Hui" on the inside, too
The concept of LiFLEX machining centers, which are available as 3-, 4- or 5-axis versions, provides users with various options and thus a high degree of flexibility thanks to the modular design. For example, the concept offers 3 loading options, depending on the application. Due to the compact design also very space-saving, especially when space conditions are tight at the place of use, this is an often underestimated advantage. The spindleare manufactured in-house.
The company has created an optimal working environment for its 210 employees. The appearance of the building, as well as the equipment available in the various areas, is impressive. LiCON presents itself as a modern, down-to-earth and competitive company without a smack. Except that it smells of production. But that's exactly what made it a lot of fun, even with a Corona mask.
Frank Dietsche Editor-in-chief of Zerspanungstechnik.de
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