Roder Kunststofftechnik excels with extraordinary focus on the customer and its outstanding abilities in solving problems from A to Z – across all industries.
In the future this flexible contract manufacturer intends to focus even more strongly on electric machines.
Roder Kunststofftechnik GmbH was founded in 1949 in Lübeck and produces a very wide range of injection-molded parts, precisely to customer specifications, from special solutions and small series to high batch numbers. Whether these are simple, functional mass packaging jobs or complex shapes: Around 65 employees currently produce parts weighing from 0.02 to 2,500 grams on 44 machines. Sophisticated technical components are just as much a part of the standard repertoire. All in all, this means around 300 million plastic parts produced annually.
We spoke with Business Managers Andrea Schnell, Thomas Mein, and Production Head Andreas Engel.
Roder has been in the market now for more than 60 years. What accounts for the success of your company; how have you positioned Roder?
We are a passionate service provider for customers who need plastic products. And we are purely contract manufacturers. We have our own small mold production facility where we do maintenance and repair. Separately from this, we have molds built for us in Germany, Europe, and Asia, with Asia currently being the main focus – with high quality results. Last year, 20 out of a total of 32 new molds came from there.
What does your customer structure look like; what industries do you serve?
We have a good mix of two big customers and a number small ones, as we have specialized in the production of small series. We manufacture for the aviation industry, the automobile industry, for service station technology, foodstuffs, cosmetics packaging, medical technology, electro-technology, and engineering.
Our customers come predominantly from northern Germany, a few from foreign European countries.
What raw materials do you process?
Here we are able to process all standard and high-performance plastics such as PSU, PPSU, PIK. Chiefly we produce medical and electronic parts.
What is your company particularly good at?
At customer service. A Roder employee looks after the customer from A to Z. Both in sales activities and also in the construction and design of the mold. Sometimes also for the design of the product, for mold construction, sampling and serial production.
So is the ideal Roder employee a genuine jack-of-all-trades?
Pretty much. He or she is an all-rounder trained here by us and capable of supporting the customer both commercially and technically. We have six trainees permanently in the fields of process mechanics and plastics here. We also have a dual curriculum course combining vocational training as a process mechanic for plastics/rubber and a degree in engineering.
How do you win new customers?
We have an active sales department. We approach all potential companies that have a basic need and present ourselves as what we are – problem solvers for plastic products. And we are honest about it. What we can’t do, we don’t offer. The customers have their own concept for a plastic product and we help them translate this concept into a mold and then to manufacture from the mold the corresponding plastic products. The customers basically don’t have to worry about a thing. We take care of everything for them: product development, mold design and mold construction, and ultimately the manufacturing.
We have standardized automation and run three shifts per day, seven days a week. Thus we can serve our customers flexibly and at high capacity, in other words: productivity. As regards performance: Our smallest injection-molding machine has 200 kN, the biggest 7,000 kN. The majority lie between 1,000 and 3,000 kN.
Do you have a particular vision at Roder?
Not really, instead we have realistic goals. It is about expansion, but it’s also about the qualification of employees, committing these qualified employees, and manageably increasing revenue with existing and new customers.
To what extent is Roder involved with Industry 4.0?
We’re open to anything that is affordable. Anything that makes sense. We won’t take on anything we can’t pay for and affect. We’re a long-standing, owner-operated company and we have very short decision paths. If there’s a requirement that we have to meet, then we’ll do that too as long as we see that it makes sense. After all, with whatever we do we also want to make money.
Is Roder itself an innovative company?
Basically Roder doesn’t do anything that other manufacturing contractors can’t also do. We are close to the customer, we have short decision-making processes, and we do things here with passion.
We are innovative in the further education of our employees through continuous training and support, in the training of master craftsmen, and in the training of technicians. Plus we always try to keep up-to-date with new injection-molding technology and more and more we’re switching to electric machines.
Are electric machines the future? In the small to medium sizes?
Yes, I agree with that. The central issues here are avoidance of costs, oil waste, and oil changes, and energy savings. That’s really very economical with electric machines.
Why then have electric machines only become an important topic in Germany in very recent years?
Because previously they were unaffordable. But that has changed. Output, meaning the short cycles, are also better with electric machines than with hydraulic ones. Also because of the parallel motion.
Do your customers profit from your shift towards electric machines?
Yes. With electric machines we are much more efficient, and of course this benefits the customer. Faced with the choice between buying a hydraulic machine for 100,000 or an electric one for 80,000, then I would always decide in favor of the electric one. Then I can adjust the hourly rates.
How many of your 44 machines are electric?
14 per cent are electric. And increasing. This includes 5 Zhafir Series machines we bought from Haitian International last year.
How did you get to know Haitian International?
Mr. Tiedemann was here two years ago and offered us several machines. Then we bought the first machine, next the second one – and now we have seven Zhafir brand machines. In the last year we bought five machines because Mr. Tiedemann and his team had scored points with us through good service. And because last year Haitian International was able to supply us immediately with five custom-built machines.
Was the short delivery time decisive?
The price-performance ratio was right. Of course, we didn’t know that at first, but it has won us over – price, performance, service. And we also get energy savings from this.
And in terms of precision and repeatability?
Yes, here too a hydraulic machine can’t keep pace. This lies in the nature of the technology and also shows up in the consumption figures.
So is the energy efficiency of electric machines a clear advantage in your opinion?
Yes. Each machine uses a certain machine-hour rate and thereby the impact of the energy consumption is decisive.
Besides, with hydraulic machines you always have to work with large amounts of hydraulic oil. This then has to be changed, disposed of, and bought again… So, an electric machine is unbeatable in many respects.
Many thanks for talking to us.