A Web Shop for Individually Configured Parts

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary and the integration of innovative functionalities into the online shop, we spoke to Lothar Winkler, Head of Sales and Marketing at mbo Osswald

  • Lothar Winker, head of sales and marketing at mbo Osswald
    Lothar Winker, head of sales and marketing at mbo Osswald
  • A Web Shop for Individually Configured Parts
    A Web Shop for Individually Configured Parts

IEN Europe: mbo Osswald is celebrating its fiftieth birthday this year. Can you briefly describe to our readers what the first products were and what your offer looks like today?
Winkler: It all started with the production of bolts. In the first years, pioneering was the serial production of series for fork heads, spring bolts and bolts. Today, we offer a wide range of mechanical linking elements with more than 12,000 standard parts (including angle joints, securing elements, clevis joints and machine elements), we manufacture special solutions according to drawing and develop individual components together with our customers. We see ourselves as a full-service supplier with an extensive range of services and and as partner to the industry.

IEN Europe: What are the main industries you supply and which countries have the largest share? 
Winkler: The sectors of our customers are as diverse as our range of products. For example, we deliver from the toy industry to the automotive sector in almost all sectors of the industry, with the largest share being found in general mechanical engineering. Traditionally our home market is the strongest here.

IEN Europe: So you can supply a wide variety of products. How do you ensure that your customers receive your products as soon as possible, without e.g. the storage costs getting out of hand? 
Winkler: This places enormous demands on the overall process and every single employee! We are continuously working to improve our high-quality standard by means of innovative manufacturing processes, more powerful automation and the use of software. In doing so, we can profit particularly from the invaluable knowledge of our employees as well as the diverse market requirements of our customers. A sophisticated control system also allows us to react early to market developments. As a result, we are able to supply flexible and absolutely reliable quality.

IEN Europe: As a “birthday present” for your customers, you have reworked your web shop and equipped it with some innovative features. Which features are this? 
Winkler: For the online shop, we have a strong focus on the wishes of our customers and try to implement this together with an adaptation of our process structure in a simple and transparent way. The advantages resulting from this are, for example, the delivery of products, down to lot size 1 without a margin surcharge and reasonable shipping costs - and that still paired with product-specific shop price advantages!
In addition to the actual shop, we also offer an absolute novelty in our area: An online DIN- bolt configurator, in which our customers can now independently configure their desired bolts and order immediately. This means that waiting times during the course of quotation and order processing will be a thing of the past. The first customer feedback already shows that with this solution-oriented approach, we can offer real value for our customers.

IEN Europe: Customer-specific manufacturing is one of the goals pursued with industry 4.0. You can already do this. How do you see the topic? 
Winkler: For years now, we are moving in the field of tension between the standard parts and drawing parts, and as a producer we are also in the tension field of serial production and small-scale production. And for years now, we were able to solve this challenging tasks and manufacturing customized, in the highest quality and at absolutely competitive prices. Of course, we have also made progress, driven by technical innovations, particularly in the past two years. Certainly, further technological advances will drive the performance spectrum even further in the coming years.

IEN Europe: You are also delivering to private customers online, at the moment exclusively in Germany. Who do you think of as target groups here?
Winkler: This is also a result of the market wishes. In the country of hobbyists and tinkerers, many private people appreciate the high quality and the diversity of our product range. The projects and applications that are realized in this process are always highly exciting and fascinating for us after so many years. 

IEN Europe: Are there perhaps one or two particularly memorable and interesting projects that you can briefly describe?
Winkler: There is the one or other clever concept which stands out from the usual application. For example, a technically enthusiastic private customer wanted to buy several versions of the 1.4404 stainless steel fork. As it turned out, he built with the help of the joints a terrace roofing of his own design, that was particularly easy to mount. Another customer experimented in a completely different direction and had the vision to build his own wind turbine. For this, too, he was able to access our standard parts and leave his creativity free, since we already deliver starting from quantity 1.

IEN Europe: To get back to the customer perspective. If you generally think of individually designed parts in very small lots, isn’t that a complicated and expensive for the customer? 
Winkler: In fact, apart from lot size many other factors play a decisive role for the component to be produced, such as machine space, production concept, raw material, employees or service providers. At mbo Osswald, we are trying to harmonize these factors optimally for our customers and thus can also significantly benefit from the implementation of customer-specific production.

IEN Europe: Thank you for the interview.