Heller Machine Tools is known for two things: its machines and its engineering solutions.
Heller offers a wide range of horizontal machining centers used in a plethora of industries, and it’s not just the machines that make Heller stand out. It’s also the company’s engineering department that is — in a word — awesome.
“Experts is the word I would use,” said David Mondek, marketing manager with Heller Machine Tools. “Everyone compliments it. All the big players that we’re partnered with that buy our machines — everyone compliments our engineering.”
Heller’s engineering team develops solutions that others often cannot solve, according to Mondek.
“It’s partly because our engineering team are truly experts,” he said. “And then also our machines are very rigid. They are very dependable — our machines are not designed to be used and thrown away. They’re designed to last a very long time.”
Heller Machine Tools builds horizontal machining centers as well as special purpose machining centers. They specialize in 4-axis and 5-axis CNC machining centers, CNC mill/turning centers, CNC machines for crankshaft and camshaft machining, flexible manufacturing systems, and a modular range of services.
“We make all specialty machines for milling internal and external crank shafts, cam shafts, and the specialty machines for different purpose cutting,” Mondek said.
With an impressive lineup of machinery and a top-notch engineering department, Heller Machine Tools is poised to bring the best solutions to its customers quickly and efficiently, according to Mondek.
Solving the customers’ needs
“It starts with visiting the customer,” he said. “We have a full engineering team that gets involved. We talk to the customer, find out their problem, what they’re truly struggling with, and then we bring that problem in-house. We learn their current manufacturing process and take all of the notes of their processes, cutting times, and everything else involved with that and bring it to our engineering team here.”
Heller’s U.S. team — which has engineers who have worked in the industry for more than 40 years — will search for ways to reduce cutting times or simplify the overall process and, most importantly, solve the customer’s problems, according to Mondek.
“We are backed up by our massive engineering team in Germany who has been doing this forever,” he said. “When the teams come together, the brain power, in most cases, comes up with a new solution for customers that betters their current processes, whether it’s us reconfiguring their process to save them time on part cutting or introducing new machines into their facility that will reduce times or cut parts better and faster.”
And because Heller’s machines are so durable, companies who use them often end up having older machines rebuilt instead of replacing them, according to Mondek.
“Most of our machines out there, a lot of them have been cutting for many years, so we rebuild them,” he said. “We have a whole rebuild and retrofit department. Our machines are built to last. Even after 20 years, they’ll be rebuilt instead of replaced. They’re built to last for accuracy and dependability.”
As the gear-manufacturing industry has evolved, Heller Machine Tools has found innovative ways to keep up with the industry’s ever-changing world.
“We’ve teamed up with a key automotive OEM,” Mondek said. “It’s a big partnership for cylinder bore coating.”
The automotive industry is always looking for ways to make parts lighter while keeping them durable such as using aluminum for engine blocks, according to Mondek. Heller Machine Tools has developed a process that sprays aluminum cylinders instead of sleeving them.
“We have a patented technology where we ‘spray’ them with steel,” he said. “With our process, it lengthens the lifespan of the engine as well as increasing fuel efficiencies and efficiency overall.”
Heller is also working on advancing Industry 4.0 with a team in Germany by finding ways to improve machine processes through information, according to Mondek.
“You’re seeing the Industry 4.0 gathering information to detect future problems and stop them before they happen,” he said. “We have a dedicated team that is heavily involved with that.”
Part of that research team is also looking into how additive manufacturing will factor into Heller’s overall business model, according to Mondek.
Working with multiple companies
Mondek is proud to point out that Heller does a lot of work with a myriad of companies that include Daimler, Caterpillar, and several within the oil and gas industry.
“We can’t talk about some of the customers as of yet, but we’ve had some recent big wins in that industry,” he said.
And this year, Heller was awarded the GM Supplier of the Year award for the third year in a row, according to Mondek.
“That was a big honor for us,” he said. “We are one of the only machine tool manufacturers that has been awarded this honor.”
Founded in 1894
This year — 2019 — marks the 125th anniversary for Heller Machine Tools, according to Mondek.
In 1894, 25-year-old Hermann Heller established Hermann Heller Handelsgeschäft und Produktion von geschützten Artikeln und Uhrmacherwerkzeug in Nürtingen, Germany, where he traded and manufactured patented products and watchmaker tools. In the beginning, the company traded and manufactured
a diverse range of tools, including parallel jaw vices
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Heller’s headquarters is still in Nürtingen and is considered a medium-sized family-owned business, according to Mondek.
“They started out with just a handful of employees, and today there are over 2,900 employees globally,” he said.
Heller Machine Tools has manufacturing facilities in Troy, Michigan; Brazil; Germany; China; and the U.K., according to Mondek. The company has been in the U.S. since 1982.
“Our main focus has always been automotive and heavy industry, but now we’re growing into aerospace, oil, gas, and power generation,” he said. “We’re broadening the focus of the company in the U.S.”
A big reason for that is Heller is changing the focus as to how it goes to market in the U.S., according to Mondek.
“It’s always been a direct company — direct selling of the machines,” he said. “As of 2019, we have changed and added a distribution network.”
Within that model, Heller has taken on four key distribution partners: Ellison Technologies, Maruka, Ellison Machinery, and Compumachine.
As the industry moves into the future and as Heller expands, Mondek stressed the company’s place in the industry will continue to remain strong.
“We do not see heavy industry going away ever,” he said. “Even if it goes to battery power, you’re still going to have all the components within all the giant tractors and trucks and everything else.”
And with the company’s movement into a distribution model, Mondek expects the Heller name to become even more common within the gear community.
“Our distribution partners have a lot of contacts in the gear industry,” he said. “Just going into that, I think our name will pop up more often in the near future.”
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