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.

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 Sparks the Interest of Young Minds

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) has developed a “Be the Spark” program that connects businesses with students from Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) to give them an opportunity to learn about different types of careers. For us, this gives us a chance to welcome students into our facility for a closer look at how manufacturing offers a viable career option.

Participating in the MPS Business Education Tours gives PFERD the chance to bring the world of manufacturing and engineering to the next generation. Because the skills gap is a serious issue in our industry, programs such as these are invaluable for exposing students to work that they may never know existed. It also teaches them what skills and education are required to work in the field.

We hosted a group of 30 seventh grade students, teachers, and chaperones. The event was a big success! Of course, safety is a priority so each participant was provided with the safety gear they needed to enter the plant. After breaking into three groups, the students cycled through the planned events which consisted of a plant tour, department presentations, and a hands-on demo.

During the plant tour the students saw how our brushes are made, the machinery, and the technology that is used in manufacturing today. Many people have the perception that manufacturing is dirty and dungy. Seeing the plant in action really dispels this idea and spotlights how our industry uses state of the art computerized equipment and technologically advance machinery. Presentations from the Engineering, Logistics, Marketing, and Customer Service departments highlighted key functions that are part of running a successful business. Employees presented an overview of their responsibilities and the skills and experience required to hold these positions. And, finally, the hands-on demonstration let the kids try our products and use the brushes as a customer would in a real-world application.

The full tour lasted about 90 minutes. It was a great opportunity for those of us in the plant as well as for the students. Making the connection between school and work is often hard for students to comprehend. Students who don’t think they will ever use algebra or geometry again will see that math and science are all throughout manufacturing and engineering and can lead to very successful careers. We are very happy to partner with MMAC and help to spark interest in manufacturing and engineering careers.