Here we speak to Annika Grässle, assistant to the executive board at OTTO ROTH GmbH & Co KG, about the services and products the German wholesaler can provide and how it ensures it is meeting the needs and demands of the market.
How was the company established and what have been the key points in its development?
“The company was founded in August 1914, by a 32 year old businessman named Otto Roth. The core business was initially in heating pipe clamps. After that, Otto Roth expanded his business to become a screws wholesaler and took over a company that machined DIN standard parts and bespoke parts. A new factory making precision parts, in Stuttgart-Weilimdorf, was added in 1955.
The company founder died in 1961 at the age of 79. His widow, Marianne Roth, son-in-law Albert Grässle and nephew Carl Roth took over management of the business. They continued to build the business with a new warehouse built in Stuttgart-Feuerbach in 1964.
This new style, multi-storey warehouse included an innovative ski-lift-inspired circulating conveyor system, which attracted a great deal of attention in the sector at the time.
In 1982 Rainer Grässle – son of Albert Grässle – started to run the business and he is still in charge today. In the 1990s we introduced the C-parts management modelled on the Japanese Kanban system and we extended the company’s presence with a branch in the former East Germany, as well as acquiring key companies that provided synergy benefits and a unique product portfolio with over 100,000 articles.
The company celebrated its centenary in 2014 and now operates in a total of nine locations throughout Germany. It has an advanced logistics network, at the heart of which is the Weilimdorf headquarters with around 12,000m2 of warehouse space, 30,000 tray and 8,700 pallet positions. The company’s own high-tech factory in Buchen now covers 5,500m2, has ‘up to the minute’ machinery and employs around 80 workers.
As a fastener wholesaler, OTTO ROTH offers DIN and ISO standard parts, bespoke parts, pipe connector parts, fastening systems, wood fasteners, tools and chemical products.”
What are the services and products you are able to provide your customers?
“In addition to acting as a fastener wholesaler, our portfolio includes complete solutions for bespoke parts. At OTTO ROTH we are able to manufacture special parts and sophisticated bespoke parts for customers. We assist clients in the procurement of bespoke and special parts (turned, milled and modular parts), offer technical and business consulting, and take responsibility for supplier management, process optimisation, warehousing and quality assurance. We have developed a good reputation – particularly in highly sensitive areas such as hydraulics, pneumatics, aviation and space technology.
In a cutting-edge production plant in Buchen, in Odenwald, we make precision rotationally symmetrical, hardened and polished turned parts from key materials, ready to install. Processing capabilities include grinding, honing, milling, boring, deburring and modular assembly.
Moreover, in our Stuttgart headquarters we employ experts who implement procurement plans for bespoke parts alongside our clients, offering full accompanying services. Before submitting an offer, we carry out a thorough analysis. This begins with design checking to rule out any conflicting specifications. Depending on the customer’s requirements and budget, we will also test the optimum production technology and manufacturing method. If requested, we will also suggest alternative materials – all this of course with an eye to optimum functionality and quality. Assembly processes in the customer’s production facilities are also taken into consideration and inspection methods are coordinated for everyone concerned.
We also specialise in customised Kanban solutions for C-parts management. This includes both single and double container systems, as well as innovative barcode and RFID labelling systems. We notonly supply standard fasteners, but also custom-made parts and complex pipe connector parts covered by Kanban agreements.
This enables us to offer a unique and sophisticated range with a large number of different fasteners, pipe connector components and bespoke parts in any desired materials, quality classes and surface finishes. All of this is combined with a comprehensive range of services with customisable logistics solutions and supply models.
Our customers are based all over the world and encompass the processing and manufacturing industries, mechanical and systems engineering, automotive component suppliers, pneumatic and hydraulic engineering, construction and agricultural machine engineering, shipbuilding, electronics and electrical engineering, tool and mould making, the solar power industry and installation contractors, among others.
Other advantages provided by OTTO ROTH include a sophisticated global network of certified suppliers, use of cutting-edge measurement and testing technology, dedicated customer care, flexibility and short decision making times. We have more than 100 years of market experience, outstanding know-how in all areas of the business, as well as highly qualified and dedicated staff.”
How have you adapted since the outbreak of the pandemic?
“Firstly we implemented all the necessary regulations and safety measures. As we have large premises at all our sites, we have also been able to ensure that required social distancing is maintained at workstations. Employees have been instructed in the hygiene rules and disinfection procedures. What is more, we have also now increased digital communications – for example in the form of web conferences with clients and suppliers, but also internally by online training and meetings between different sites. With our extensive stock, we have also been able to absorb almost all Covid-19-related supply disruptions for our customers.
The coronavirus has made it clear to us once again that digitisation will play an ever-increasing role – including in the supply of C-parts. Our Kanban services, in particular scanner and RFID models, will be used increasingly. There is good reason for this. After all, it facilitates the procurement process for customers while at the same time considerably speeding it up. The error rate is also significantly lower with our digital solutions. In this way we can help companies to succeed in the face of increasingly fierce competition.
As a business we are are developing steadily from being simply a supplier into a service provider, partner and solutions finder – as we support our clients, not only with products, but also with our expertise. Of course this means that we too rely in turn on a great many suppliers. We are proud to have created a very reliable network over the past 100 years. Regional suppliers are particularly important to us in this regard as we believe that regional sourcing will become increasingly important in future, just as will our multi-supplier policy and more efficient risk management.”
What general trends do you see for the fastener industry in the future?
“For the reasons stated above, digitisation will continue to impact and change the sector for a long time to come. We are already experiencing a trend towards greater focus on service. Companies are not just looking for suppliers, but partners who will help them find solutions to the particular challenges that face them. This means they rely increasingly on service providers in close proximity to them who can respond quickly and efficiently to needs as they arise. It is our task to be ready to deliver at all times and to supply customers with the right products at the right time and in the right place.
We also continue to offer our ‘Just in Time’ service, for which we offer framework contracts. This means that we are able to plan and purchase better and the customer profits from a high-level of supply dependability. This also enables us to combat material price increases as well as material shortages. Considering the savings customers are able to make in the procurement of C-parts and warehousing, I would say that the demand for ‘Just in Time’ supply will grow.
Customers are also increasingly demanding a ‘one stop shop’ style service and prefer to work with a permanent partner rather than with several suppliers. We are in a very good position to meet such demands with our extensive range and our tried and trusted
high performance supplier network. Kanban systems too are increasingly being introduced by companies. This means that not only is rapid ‘Just in time’ supply in demand, but also end-to-end process optimisation in order to make procurement and the downstream processes as easy and as efficient as possible. With the know-how we have gathered over the decades, we are able to support and assist customers in this regard. Another trend is an increasing demand for custom-built and special parts. In many sectors requirements for parts and components are increasing all the time and many applications can no longer satisfactorily use standard products. With our specialist knowledge and our production capabilities, we are able to help our customers advance towards their objectives and sustainably improve both procurement and assembly processes – and that, ultimately, will benefit both sides.”
Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 12 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.
Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the Magazine is renowned.