Tübingen-based machining expert takes a look back on 100 years of a successful corporate strategy
In 1919, when Walter AG was founded, the global market and the concept of a "systems provider" were not yet on the agenda for start-up entrepreneur Richard Walter. However, the philosophy of working innovatively and in close alignment with the needs of the customer was already key to the success of the company at that time.
Groundbreaking innovations, such as the Wendelnovex, a face milling system that consists of a carrier tool and indexable inserts with six cutting edges, meant that Walter saw great success at the start of the 1960s – outside of Germany too. Franco Mambretti, grandson of the company founder and Managing Director of the company since 1965, started on the path to internationalisation when he opened a sales office in Vienna in 1967. Today, Walter has production sites at 10 locations across the world and supplies customers in over 80 countries.
Since 1967, Walter has been growing on an international level. It was not long until Austria was part of the plan: After the strategic decision had been made to not surrender the growing international markets to the competition, Walter opened subsidiaries quickly one after the other in Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Belgium in the 1970s. In the 1980s, Walter tapped into the key US market via acquisitions and investments. It also gained a foothold in the Soviet Union. Walter only really profited from this step once the Iron Curtain had fallen in 1989. With China and the Asian economic area, another key region was added in 1994. Walter has established numerous subsidiaries and its own sales companies there.
The transformation to become a systems provider: In addition to internationalisation, the 1980s also saw an additional central strategic decision being made. Walter's company management decided to proactively respond to emerging changes in the machining industry. Thanks to the triumph of electronically controlled metalworking machines, customers became increasing aware of the entire machining process. With in-house developments such as the first NC-controlled tool grinding machine (1976) and the first CNC-controlled tool grinding machine (1994), the HELITRONIC POWER, Walter became a driving force in its own right in this innovative field. In 1989, Walter launched Tool Data Management (TDM), one of the first software-based tool data management systems. TDM has formed the basis for many subsequent innovations, right through to complete tool management solutions and logistics solutions, which Walter currently offers under the Walter Multiply brand. Digitalisation has therefore been at the centre of Walter's strategy for 30 years now.
Thinking things through – starting with the process: Walter Multiply: Today, Walter not only takes on the entire tool management process based on the customer's wishes, it has also established itself as a systems provider. From special tool construction and optimisation, through to the design of new complete machining strategies, Walter offers its customers a comprehensive range of products and services. The Technology Center in Tübingen, which opened in 2016, is also evidence of how important the system and process methodology has become for Walter. This is where Walter's machining experts work on new digital-based solutions. The Technology Center is also used intensively to develop new solutions for specific machining processes for and together with customers, in order to design machining processes that are even more efficient.