Monday 11 March 2019

German Ingenuity at its Best – A Tour Around Hörmann

Hörmann Forum

Last month, in my capacity as editor of the DIJ, I joined the great and the good from the Building, Architectural, Facilities Management and Door & Gate Industry media for a press visit to Hörmann, in Germany.

During the trip, we were to visit three Hörmann locations in and around Bielefeld in north-west Germany. Having visited some of these factories around 20 years ago, when I was working for a distributor of Hörmann doors, I was intrigued to see what changes had been made.

After arriving, we started our tour at the magnificent Hörmann Forum - a 6000 square metre, 3-level building including a training centre and 2500 square metre showroom built on the site of the Hörmann KG Amshausen plant. This plant produces up-and-over garage doors and garage side doors in numerous steel and timber versions.

The Press and our Hosts gather outside the Hörmann Forum

Next on the agenda, was a visit to the Hörmann KG Brockhagen factory, which - amongst other things - makes industrial and domestic sectional overhead doors. The sheer size of the facility became apparent after we were told we’d be walking around 2.5km within the same factory!

There were two fascinating aspects of this facility:

Firstly, the speed at which sectional door panels are produced was astonishing. Two massive coils of sheet metal, quickly ended up as the different pre-cut lengths and heights of panel necessary to make a complete sectional door. (And this is done with very little human input – as the plant is largely computer controlled.)

Sectional Door Production Line

Secondly, the deep store into which the packaged sectional doors are stored prior to despatch is a sight to behold. High-speed fork-lift type machines automatically load doors into what is best described as pigeonholes up to 6 metres deep, where they stay until ready for despatch. 

The system operates on an apparently chaotic storage method, and only the computer knows where a particular door has been stored!

Another thing of note was the attention to detail and accuracy applied to the packing of fitting kits for the doors. The kits are weighed, then photographed and individually bar-coded to record the contents before despatch - so any shortages reported after delivery can be investigated.

The "Deep Store" used for Sectional Doors

After our mini-marathon walk around the plant, we enjoyed a very welcome lunch in the on-site restaurant - which is shared by all employees, from shop-floor workers up to directors.

After lunch, we boarded the coach to travel the few kilometres to the final factory, known as Hörmann KG Antriebstechnik, which produces garage door operators and door controls. It also makes all the electronic accessories and remote controls for the Hörmann range of garage door and gate openers, as well as controls for their industrial doors and dock levellers. 

In addition, a number of own-brand garage door openers are made here - taking the total manufactured to several hundred thousand per year.

Here, they have a storage system similar to the Brockhagen sectional door factory, albeit a scaled down version, with components and finished goods stored in bins of various sizes, utilising the same seemingly random storage method. Yet, the computer can instantly locate every single item.

Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht Micro-Brewery in Bielefeld

Last, and to the glee of the thirsty press corps, the visit ended with an evening meal and beer tasting at the Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht - a micro-brewery in Bielefeld.

Thank you Hörmann for a great trip, Cheers!

Derek Hibbart
Editor, Door Industry Journal

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