Back to Basics: Lessons from a 200+ Year-Old Manufacturing Company

In today’s international economy, technology evolves rapidly, and trends are always changing. When a global company has employees spread out over six continents, it can be difficult to keep everyone on the same page and up to date. So how does such an established company such as PFERD keep our workers across the globe in the loop?

PFERD Headquarters
PFERD Headquarters in Marienheide, Germany

To begin with, even though we can trace our roots back to our founding in 1799, we have continually evolved throughout the years. We are focused on the future, with the intent of creating a legacy of success. By constantly changing with the times, we don’t have to make massive leaps forward every few years, only to fall behind by getting comfortable. We are regularly updating processes, innovate with new products and solutions, and so much more to keep our place as a leading abrasives and brush manufacturer.

Of course, even with the advent of technology such as e-mail, video chat, and conference

Training Session
PFERD Employees Attend a Training Session

calling, there’s little that can replace face-to-face meetings and training. Which is why every year around February, PFERD brings its team members from around the world to our international headquarters in Marienheide, Germany for training, brainstorming, sharing best practices and getting to spend time with peers from our diverse markets. These multi-day training sessions help keep our team up to date on:

  • Training on new product development
  • New regulations introduced in global markets
  • The latest innovations, internal and external, that can be used to improve business practices
  • New marketing communications materials including catalogues, sales tools, and display programs
  • Discussing and developing trade show strategies
  • Addressing different market needs and advancing the company strategy
  • Best practices for use in daily business

By having this face time with our global colleagues, we can tell them what has worked for us, and just as importantly, we can learn what has worked for them, and incorporate it into our own processes. We recently had some of our team members head to Germany for trainings, and are excited to share what we learned with the rest of our North American division.

Keep connected with us here at PFERD for the latest in grinding, cutting, surface finishing, and other metalworking solutions. You can see what we are doing through our Twitter account, connect with us via LinkedIn, and keep up on all of our latest news. You can also learn more about our company by watching our corporate video on YouTube. We are proud to have grown so much in our 200+ year history, and look forward to continuing our success long into the future.

PFERD’s Internship Program Brings the Classroom to Life

As we head toward Manufacturing Day–a nationwide celebration of the manufacturing industry taking place on Oct. 7th—we thought you’d like to hear about how PFERD brings the goals of manufacturing day to life. One of the aims of Manufacturing Day is to inspire young people to consider a career in manufacturing.

Through our PFERD Internship Program, current college students are given the opportunity to put their classroom learning to practice. We create an atmosphere within the company that allows interns to truly learn about the career they are studying and their prospective roles. An internship allows them to gain experience and make results happen.

PFERD Interns 2016
L-R: Andrew Oswald, Jake Pallo, Steven Snider

We spoke to our interns about their time here at PFERD. Here’s what they had to say:

Jake Pallo, Quality and Safety Intern, Mechanical Engineering Major, Junior

Role: I have been taking assignments and performing wear testing for products. The data is used to determine the lifespan of products. I have also been helping prepare for the ISO audit coming up in December by filing and restructuring all data and information so that the audit goes smoothly.

Perks for working with PFERD: The size of the company makes it easy to see all parts of the business and the wider industry. I’m happy to have the opportunity to work within a division of a larger company.

Takeaways from being an intern: The real world is completely different from the classroom. I’ve learned how to collect data properly, compile information for future interns to use when performing wear tests, and to use tools like Microsoft Excel. I’ve gained a wider understanding of what quality and safety mean for a company, especially ISO 9000, and terminology used in manufacturing.

Because PFERD has all its functions in one location I feel I like that my work here is really adding value. I have gained more of an engineering mindset by thinking about processes differently, understanding flow charts and diagrams, and sharpening my problem solving skills. The importance of interning is immeasurable.

Internship term: Jun-Dec/Jan

Steven Snider, Manufacturing Engineering Intern, Mechanical Engineering Major

Role: I’ve been working on design projects such as making molds or parts of machines. I’ve also been handling issues pertaining to designs for molds.

Favorite experience: Meeting with other companies about preparing designs for machines in the future. This gives me a better idea that what we do now will have an impact in the future. Seeing new designs and what we hope to accomplish with them.

Perks for working with PFERD: It’s an intimate work environment with the duties of a bigger company. The friendly engineering aspect allows me to interact freely and have conversations with people in different departments. I would recommend this internship to a friend.

Takeaways from being an intern: Real life experience and hands on learning gives me a much better grasp on what I get in the classroom. I now feel like I have a leg up on my career because I am starting out already knowing a lot more about design.

Internship term: Jun-Dec/Jan

Andrew Oswald, Marketing Intern, Marketing Major

Role: I have been helping with the PFERD CRM customer relationship database, which helps connect and build a more personalized relationship with their customers. This way the reach-out for marketing aspects is easier and more personal.

Favorite experience: The company culture. It’s a friendly company and it isn’t overwhelming to have a good relationship with everyone here. I also like the work ethic and the attention paid to the daily details and deadlines.

Takeaways from being an intern: The real world application and work experience is extremely valuable.  Being in an office before a full time position offers a view into the day-to-day functioning of a firm. Being an intern has helped me get a sense of what I’d like to do once I graduate. I would definitely praise to my friends that PFERD offers a terrific internship program. It’s a unique company in a niche industry so it’s a good opportunity to embrace a learning curve.

Do You Know Why Variable Speed is the Best Choice?

A single speed machine is cheaper per unit, but the overall value may not be cost effective at all!

Essentially, the abrasive cutting and grinding processes are a function of physics. With abrasive cutting, more speed means more pressure and friction. And, in some cases, faster isn’t always better. You might choose the fastest tool thinking it will get your job done more quickly, but in most cases the opposite is true.

variable speedPFERD understands the important relationship between rotational speed and efficiency. We have carefully designed our power tools based on understanding this relationship and the physics involved between the tool, the consumable, and the material.

PFERD power tools, used in conjunction with the proper PFERD consumable provide a system that delivers an optimal process rather than just a machine. With the combination of a premium-quality consumable and a power tool designed to run at the proper speed and power output, the performance and effectiveness results in a much more cost-effective overall process for the user.

As with all power tools it’s important to understand the difference between MSFS (“Maximum Safe Free Speed”, commonly expressed as “Max. RPM”) and recommended speed. With the exception of catalog 206, in which the MSFS and recommended speeds are identical , PFERD products are always listed with a recommended RPM in our TOOL MANUAL.

Let’s look at an example:

A fixed-speed angle grinder typically runs at speeds between 9000-11000 RPM.

For grinding and cutoff operations (4-1/2” dia.), this is a perfectly acceptable speed range. However, if you then switch to secondary operation such as brushing or finishing with a coated or non-woven product, the speed of this grinder is typically too high for optimal performance.

Running products at too high of a speed can cause many problems, such as excessive heat, which can lead to problems such as discoloration and warping of the workpiece, overgrinding of the workpiece, and even failure of the product itself. With coated and non-woven products, excessive speed causes glazing of the abrasive grain, and can actually melt the non-woven material rendering it useless and possibly damaging your workpiece. Most of these problems will result in costly reworking operations.

With variable speed power tools, the user has the ability to change speeds to best match the application and provide optimal performance. With better control, time-consuming and expensive rework is eliminated leading to the best value for the end-user.

How Safe is Your Workplace?

Did you know that June is National Safety Month? Although the 30 days of June are designed to raise awareness to safety while we are at work, at home, and on the roads, it is something we consider every day of the year. Controlling risk and keeping our employees and customers safe is a top-priority for us at PFERD.  

PFERD’s in-house safety plan begins with the Safety Committee. It consists of team members from QC, HR, Engineering, Customer Service, and Production staff and meets at regular times to review processes and procedures and  to address any concerns in the plant. The goal is to create the safest possible working conditions to protect our employees. A topic the committee discusses regularly is safety in human-machine interaction and plant security. But we don’t stop at making the workplace safe for just our own employees—we work to keep all employees safe from workplace hazards.

With a focus on people we stress the importance of health and safety of operators working across all industrial sectors. Manufacturing is a tough working environment but there are certain areas that can be addressed to improve safety. Through ergonomics, “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment,” employers can make small changes that will drastically improve working conditions. In the application of power hand tools, creating an ergonomic friendly workplace means protecting workers from the influences of noise, vibrations, emissions, and physical stresses. Workplace injuries are the leading cause of missed work time.

By optimizing the tools workers use every day, workplace health and safety are drastically improved. Our goal is to work particularly hard to reduce the levels of dust, noise, and vibrations produced by abrasives used in conjunction with hand tools – we call this PFERDERGONOMICS and it is at the heart of PFERD’s product design philosophy and process, as well as of the primary ways we deliver value to our customers.

As a founding member of the Organization for the Safety of Abrasives (OSA), we have a commitment to make products that follow safety guidelines and offer outstanding protection of users. PFERD offers free live presentations of customized Safety Seminars for technical schools, private manufacturers and fabricators with a focus on ANSI, ISO and EN standards. The Live Safety Seminars review the proper procedures for mounting, guarding, safe speed ranges and operator practices using high speed consumable tools. It is our goal to help you make safe choices when it comes to the selection of your abrasive products.

Since 1897, PFERD has been a family-owned business that continues to look for long term solutions and quality (high value) products. By continuing the tradition of designing and manufacturing abrasives and cutting tools with the user in mind, we have gained the trust of customers throughout the world. Safety in the workplace is easier to achieve when you use the right tools!

PFERD TOOL MOBILE: Centuries of Expertise, Delivered to Your Door

PFERD is always looking for innovative ways to help our clients. Whether it’s communicating safety procedures or optimizing common applications, we enjoy being able to problem-solve any of our clients’ needs. One way is through our small laboratory classes at the PFERDACADEMY in Milwaukee. Another is held outside the classroom and allows us to provide our clients with real world applications of our tools and services. We realized that all of our clients have different needs, so we wanted to give them an option for a more specialized experience. One where PFERD can showcase our products and demonstrate varying solutions needed to resolve your individual concerns. That is why we incorporated our Tool Mobile program. Continue reading

SUPERIOR ABRASIVES ACQUIRED BY RÜGGEBERG GROUP

Newly Purchased Abrasive Manufacturer to Continue to Operate Independently
November 1, 2012, Dayton, OH

In a joint announcement, PFERD INC., a subsidiary of August Rüggeberg GmbH & Co. of Marienheide, Germany, a leading international manufacturer of abrasive tools, industrial brushes and power tools, and Superior Abrasives of Dayton, Ohio, a leader in surface finishing technology since 1961, today reported that Superior Abrasives had been acquired by the RÜGGEBERG GROUP. The company will be named Superior Abrasives LLC.

Superior Abrasives LLC will be owned by the RÜGGEBERG GROUP, Germany. PFERD INC. and SUPERIOR ABRASIVES LLC will continue to operate independently of one another. Superior President, Mrs. Lynne Henson, will remain with Superior headquarters and manufacturing facility which will remain in Dayton, Ohio. As part of this independent operating plan, all Superior employees, including manufacturing, sales, sales agents, marketing, administrative and executive staff will remain with their company where they will continue to function independently, as before the acquisition. Further, all PFERD employees will remain at their current locations and the two sales organizations will not be able to sell each other’s products. All distribution channels will remain the same. Existing PFERD distributors not already authorized to purchase Superior Abrasives will not have automatic access to the Superior line. The same applies to existing Superior Abrasives distributors who will not have automatic access to PFERD products.

Superior Abrasives was originally founded in 1961 by Herbert Cook and, in recent years, owned by his son, Paul Cook, and his wife, Jean Cook. Today, they are best known for their coated, non-woven, grinding and polishing products including quick-change discs, pressure sensitive adhesive discs, cartridge rolls and conversion of surface conditioning materials. The majority of their business is in the U.S. but sales also come from Canada, Mexico and Europe.

PFERD INC. has been operating in the U.S. for over 30 years and is a subsidiary of a 213 year old international manufacturer known for its innovative product designs in all areas of industrial metalworking and finishing. The PFERD product range covers over 7,500 grinding, cutting, finishing, polishing, power tools, industrial brushes, and maintenance tools.

Speaking for PFERD INC., President, Gene Huegin, emphasized that Superior Abrasives LLC will remain right where it is. “PFERD welcomes all Superior employees to our RÜGGEBERG family and we look forward to their continuing to function as a separate entity just as they had been and with continued great success”, Huegin stated.

Lynne Henson, President of Superior Abrasives, commented on how the acquisition is seen as a positive from her standpoint. “We are very excited to be part of the RÜGGEBERG family. Our association with PFERD will provide us with additional resources in technology, product development, and increased efficiencies that will ultimately translate to providing even greater value to our customers. With Superior now being part of a major international company that has such a long and successful history, we expect Superior to be even more of a player in industrial abrasive technology leadership and that we can realize even more positive growth results”, Henson said.