With over 140 automatic lathes equipped with numerical control and almost exclusively dedicated to top-quality industry (and mainly to the watch-making industry), the company Bandi located in Courtételle is one of the jewels of Swiss Jura industry. We met the company’s managing director, Yves Bandi just before Baselworld.
Baselworld kicks off in just a few days time. I imagine that as a specialised sub-contracting company you’re very busy right now?
You’re quite right. This kind of event generates lots of specific requests, as our company produces watch-making components for three different areas; the case, the wristlet and the movement. Every year we are asked to fulfil urgent special requests for parts which will be on show.
This means you have to produce parts in very small batches or even singly. How do you integrate this into your industrial process?
We reserve production capacity for the period before this event on each type of machine so that we are in a position to meet any request from our customers. We don’t have a separate « prototype » unit at our disposal and we produce single parts or very small production batches within our usual production departments. In this way such parts are integrated into the production process and controlled right from the start of the process. This makes everything so much easier if we subsequently go into large-scale production.
You have taken the risk of investing in numerically-controlled machines to replace the cam-operated machines. What have been the results of this strategy?
I wouldn’t say a “risk”, but we very quickly realised that this type of machine would allow us to produce a wide range of parts with a high degree of flexibility.
Our customers jumped at this opportunity, resulting in a slight expansion of our production range. Today we have at our disposal a range of machines which are suitable for various part geometries, but always in the field of precision turning. We are capable of machining a very diverse range of components.
Could you machine the parts you produce today on cam-operated machines?
It would be difficult, as parts are increasingly complex and batches are getting smaller and smaller. We launch over 250 production runs per month! Numerically-controlled machines are much more suited to the demands we face.
Some people think that cam-operated machines will die out, but others are sure they will still be around for years. What is your opinion?
It is obvious that for our company the future lies with the numerically-controlled machine, but we haven’t completely forgotten the cam-operated machine. For certain specific products it remains the best option. Over and above our range of numerically-controlled machines, we still have 11 cam-operated machines at our disposal and we don’t intend to transfer this production to NC machines.
What makes the difference on the market today? What are your customers looking for?
Bandi is positioned as a « company at the cutting-edge of technology ». We have succeeded in evolving to keep up-to-date with new technologies. Furthermore, over the last two years we have reached a new level in terms of precision, which has allowed us to meet requirements related to movement parts. Our customers are looking for reactivity, availability, faultlessly produced parts and on-time delivery.
You are a specialised subcontractor. How do you publicise your services? Do you take part in EPHJ? If so, what will you be presenting?
We don’t carry out very much customer canvassing and EPHJ is the only trade fair we take part in. It’s a good opportunity over 4 days to meet a large number of customers and possibly make contact with potential future customers. We will be presenting new products, machined and finished parts which are representative of our production and our know-how.
We look forward to seeing you on at EPHJ on our stand 07/17.
Their website is nice (in French so far). Enjoy the visit.