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Banging the drum for Korean machine tools

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“Our machine tools were originally developed by Hyundai in Korea for use in the company’s own car production before being launched on the third party market in the 1970s,” explains Thomas Wenzlow, Sales Manager for Germany and Eastern Europe. “Machines which are used to make cars that come with a seven year guarantee have to be pretty good.”

The machine tools are manufactured in Korea while Hyundai WIA is the European sales subsidiary. From its head office in Offenbach and service center in Raunheim, the company provides both standard and bespoke machine tools for many applications, partnering with 33 dealers across Europe.

“The dealers are the first contact point for customers for sales and service. For complex queries that the dealer cannot resolve, our technical team in Offenbach steps in to support the customer,” underlines Mr. Wenzlow.

Hyundai WIA distributes vertical and horizontal machining centers, CNC turning centers, robotic automation systems and powertrain processing and assembly lines.

“We supply the whole portfolio of cutting machine tools,” continues the Sales Manager. “We offer more than just standard machines, we are a system partner providing complete solutions. Of course, we supply individual machines, but equally, we also fit out whole production units. Our machines have been tailored to the European market and, as they are designed as a modular concept, can be constructed in different permutations. We deliver many such standard machines, in particular to Turkey, Italy and Poland; however, in Sweden for example, we more commonly supply bespoke machines which are designed to meet very specific customer requirements.”

Hyundai WIA is currently expanding its portfolio; it recently launched the XF6300, a five-axis vertical machining center and has already sold 17 of this innovative new model. The machine’s smaller brother, the XF2000, will be revealed at the Utrecht trade fair in April 2017.

Despite the company’s success in Europe – besides its main markets, it also delivers to France and Romania – growth in one territory has so far remained relatively elusive. Germany, with its huge manufacturing and engineering centers, currently accounts for only 10% of the European business with just seven dealers across the country.

“We see huge potential in Germany and we are working very hard to step up our activities here and win more customers,” points out Mr. Wenzlow. Nevertheless, the company numbers among the top eight suppliers in the European market but the Sales Manager sees a tremendous opportunity to improve this position. “In 2017 we anticipate selling 750 machines with a turnover of some 56 million EUR; in the medium term we are aiming to increase this to 1,000 machines per year which will put us among the top five suppliers,” he says.

Further innovation to support this goal is already on the way, in the form of a joint project with the University of Karlsruhe to develop software for machine and order sharing whereby it will be possible to operate machinery in different production locations remotely.

Solid customer relationships are also an important factor for future growth. “Our machinery represents significant investment on the part of our clients, and we offer them great value for money. We do all we can to support our clients and enable them to make the right decisions. We take them, for instance, to our manufacturing facility in Korea to show them the quality of our production and what we are capable of.”

With expansion high on the agenda, in 2018 Hyundai WIA will open its new, purpose-built premises in Rüsselsheim, where European operations will be consolidated. “We also want to fit out our dealers’ showrooms with demonstration models,” reveals Mr. Wenzlow. “We are aiming to increase our customer base which will involve, among other things, really banging the advertising drum. We have to significantly raise the profile of Hyundai WIA because currently, many know Hyundai only for its cars and not for its machine tools.”

Taking into consideration the company’s ambitious plans and the market potential, you can be sure that the days when potential customers respond to sales calls with ‘thank you but we don’t need any new cars at the moment’ will very soon be history.

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