23 November 2020

Investing in process and people

Investments to keep Phoenix 3D Metaal attractive for customers and staff

Demonstrating with the latest technology that we can do anything


For Phoenix 3D Metal, 2019 was a peak year, with sales growing by 23 per cent. Consolidating that result was the goal this year – and then came corona. A dip followed, although there are already plenty of orders piled up again. As a result, the metalworking company is still working towards what it wants to achieve in the next five years: double turnover


By Jan Broeks

Rubber pad forming, which metalworking company did that? Not one, as it turned out. Therefore Phoenix 3D Metaal in Eindhoven took the plunge at the end of the nineties. The company provided a rubber pad , mastered the technology and saw that rubber pad forming is no longer something ‘for the taking’. Pioneering is over, rubber pad forming is fully grown here, says co-owner/director Bernard van der Poel. “What was completely new at the time, we now take for granted. Processes are stable and easy to predict with simulation software.”


‘Rubber pad forming is a good alternative to other forms of sheet metal processing’.


According to him, this has its advantages, especially for the customer. Rubber pad forming, he says, requires only one mould, and as a result, relatively low investment costs. That makes the technology attractive for series in lower numbers. Rubber pad forming offers a good alternative to other forms of sheet metal processing, especially now, at a time when companies are exploring other possibilities with new products.


Like more competition
From this point of view, the corona crisis has put rubber pad forming further on the map, says Van der Poel. “That is certainly welcome. We are still the only ones to use the technology on this scale. For two years we have promoted it wherever possible, but not everybody knows about rubber pad forming.” A bit more competition would be welcome. “With more companies, rubber pad forming will become more and more known.”

However, at Phoenix 3D Metaal they focus mainly on themselves. Look at the results of the last few years: in 2019, sales were 23 percent higher than in 2018, and growth was in full swing. As it looks now, according to Van der Poel, turnover in 2020 will be about 10 percent lower, and then the sights can be set back on the goal of ‘doubling in five years’. “That is realistic. Especially since we have already grown so much in the past years, and because we are becoming more successful in making designers and manufacturers aware of the great advantages of rubber pad forming.”

Bernard van der Poel: ” With more companies rubber forming, the technology will only become more widely known


More challenge with cobot
Growth requires substantial investments, so does Phoenix 3D Metaal. “In recent years we have renewed almost the entire machine park, including several press pads, a 3D-laser cutting machine and a fully automated 2D-laser cutting machine. And a cobot will help our employees with such tasks as bending and deburring metal”. A cobot will make work more challenging for them, says Van der Poel. “This is one of the reasons for the growth initiative. We like to keep our people on board. Their knowledge is unique, and we want to make the best possible use of it, especially for them. That is why we want them to work with the latest technology. New investments reflect on our employees. We try to be as complete an employer as possible, also in terms of retraining: several of our people used to work in construction.”


Lowest possible price
Besides investing in equipment and staff, the intended growth is focused on the customer. Van der Poel: “We want to serve them to the very best of our abilities. It is our investments that keep the product price as low as possible. That is only possible with up-to-date technology, which allows us to show the customer that we can handle any order.” From about 150 pieces to a few thousand. “That range in numbers is what distinguishes us; that is what we continue to focus on.” Is the growth so rapid that Phoenix 3D Metaal has to look for a new location? Bernard van der Poel does not see that happening any time soon. “We can still make progress in our current location. Which is a good thing: moving our three rubber pads is expensive and not easy. We would like to keep them in place for the time being.”