Q&A with Matthias Reimann

Vice President of Sales at SONA BLW Präzisionsschmiede in Germany


What are your duties at SONA BLW?

I have been with SONA BLW and its predecessor for more than 15 years in various functions. I started out as a technical project manager leading cross-functional teams, then went further to head the quality department responsible for design and manufacturing results and processes. I currently have the pleasure of supporting the customer with our sales team in the best way possible. We also integrated the marketing and new business development team, which is a lot of fun to work with as we are organizing our internet appearance, market analysis, participation in exhibitions, and business cases on potential new markets and customers. Throughout all these different responsibilities I have learned that you always need to put your customer at the center of your business and never compromise on your pursuit of excellence. Our owner and new CEO — Sunjay Kapur — captured this idea in our new tag line, “More torque per gram.” It perfectly covers our idea of serving the customer by providing a highly advanced gear design in a constantly more challenging environment.

What products and services does SONA offer?

SONA designs, manufactures, and tests components for the automobile industry covering the entire range from passenger car to commercial vehicles and even heavy-duty applicants. We have a vast production scope that includes forging and cold-coining press line, soft- and hard-turning equipment, broaching, grinding, milling, and heat treatment.

Our design team operates on an international level consisting of sales and engineering teams in the U.S., Europe, and India. This is our key advantage enabling us to provide quickly approved products, whether they are off-the-shelf or highly customized solutions. We have expanded our competence to designing and producing entire sub-systems such as differential gear boxes and pre-assembled components for brand new electric mobility applications.

Our customers value our willingness to contribute to design early on in the process. SONA BLW wants to be involved from Day 1.

What is SONA doing to advance the gear industry?

With SONA being the inventor of precision-forged bevel gears and mono-block speed gears, it’s clear we are all about gears and their key functional area — the toothing. Our products are designed around the toothing. The entire measurement system is based on this approach. We have also restructured our technology department accordingly to highlight the importance of our gear design by also including the test laboratory. The test facility in Germany is well-established and used by our customers feeding the test results directly back into the design process. For greater applications, SONA BLW has a second test rig in India as well. But not only are our design engineers pushing for daily improvements, our in-house tool shop teams also are creating the edge needed in order for forged gears to meet the standards of the global car industry. The objective is to increase the power density of the gears by optimizing the tooth flank geometry and the material grade used. This allows more torque while remaining within the existing dimensions or even shrinking the gears in order to minimize size and weight.

What achievements have you recently accomplished?

Throughout the last few years, a transformation in structure and ownership has been executed allowing SONA BLW to focus our attention, investments, and energies in the fast-growing Precision Forging business where we own the technology and have the potential to claim global market leadership. Our global key account management has been established and has joined forces with the new global set-up of our technology team. We had a record-breaking number of orders in 2017-2018. Personally, I am very grateful for being able to help new customers with their innovative electric mobility applications. 

What are some of SONA’s proudest moments?

SONA BLW stands at a moment where we look back on a journey that started in Germany in 1773 and in India in1995.

We are proudly serving more than 120 customers, delivering more than 130 million parts and 250.000 assemblies per year out of nine sites that generate an annual sales of more than 315 million euros ($350 million). This legacy will motivate and challenge us for years to come. We also are growing our business. New sites in Hungary and India are set up and aligned with the existing production network in Munich, Remscheid, Duisburg, Gurgaon, and Pune. We are moving from being a component supplier to a system provider.

Where do you see SONA in 10 years?

The entire automobile industry is facing major changes such as connectivity, autonomous driving, and electrification. Consequently, SONA BLW is striving to set a strong foundation with our existing scope of products and services by expanding into new markets, i.e. agriculture, and increasing its market share within the strategic partnerships with today’s customers leveraging design and cost leadership. In addition, SONA BLW continuously invests in R&D and works closely with innovative start-ups while being a preferred partner of OEMs and large Tier-1 suppliers. We have copper manufacturing applications for electric engines; our team in India has developed an electric axle; our European engineers have developed forged sun gears where the complete toothing is produced by only forming and not by using a machining operation for finishing.

At the end of the day, we need to listen to our customers carefully, understand their needs, and be the fastest and most committed partner we can. Our new management supports this approach, and our team is excited to face those challenges as one team, as ONE SONA.