3T, s.r.o. | Haas Customer Success Story
Step by step to smooth production
We are facing the production premises of a company 3T, s. r. o. in a small industrial zone in Zilina, and a term "corporate culture" spontaneously crosses our minds. Neat building in discreet shades and properly treated lawn are the first implications of a precise approach to work, as well as good working environment. When entering the production area we are convinced that everything that greeted us outside was not just a glitz. After all, every detail matters if you achieve remarkable results after many years of your own efforts...
The way Lubomir Truchly and Jozef Stofik supplement each other is rather rare in the business world. Perfect mutual substitutability of shareholders was undoubtedly one of the keys that have pushed the company towards success. They have done businesses together since 2002 when they established a company 3T (Technology Turning Trading) for the production of turned parts for bearing and automotive industries. After years of experience in the bearing industry, during which they held several functions including senior directorships, it was quite natural to use acquired production and management knowledge in private business. At that time, bearing as well as automotive industry began to shift production from west to east, and Slovakia gained a new potential. Together they took a chance.
"We decided to try if our ideas prove right in practice or not. Of course, the decision to conduct private business is always based on knowledge of the business segment and market requirements for the product or service that the entrepreneur offers. Finally, luck and knowledge of the industry also plays a role and can open up doors to launch you on the market. But then, there is a second variable: a product that meets the specific requirements of the customer; that is delivered on time and at the market price. The production quality is a prerequisite for the trade to happen. Company certification and management of all processes in accordance with ISO/TS 16949 is taken for granted. No connections help without meeting the above conditions," says Lubomir Truchly, the manager and director of 3T. His words are proved by significant clients, such as Audi, Mercedes, Ford and Volkswagen. They are end customers of 3T clients, for whom the company produces rotary semi-products.
As a matter of coincidence, 3T was also the first company in Slovakia that purchased CNC lathe SL-10HE from the US manufacturer Haas, represented by Teximp. It can be still seen in the fourth production hall bearing the number 1. The contract was signed at Christmas 2003, and the machine was put into operation the following year. Gradually more and more machines were added and today manufacturing on seven single spindle CNC lathes is fully engaged. There are Haas CNC lathes model series SL-10, SL-20 and ST-30 in the production. With these machines the company can produce products with the outer diameter of up to 200 mm.
"Price-performance ratio offered by Haas CNC lathes is truly excellent. When expanding production we also considered selecting machines from other manufacturers, but we turned back to Haas machines. We are currently preparing a new project which again shall include purchasing Haas machines and expanding production. In terms of operations these are simple, yet highly accurate and reliable devices. They meet our technical and technological requirements for mechanical machining. Technical equipment of machines from Haas that we selected meets exactly what we need in the process of turning, and thereby we achieve optimal utilization of machines. The company must firstly know what is expected from the machine, what kind of production it shall perform and what is return on such investment. I think it would be entrepreneurially and economically disadvantageous to purchase an expensive machine with lots of functions that one could not fully exploit," said 3T Director.
"Our portfolio includes interesting manufacturing; however, it is even more important that in partnership with our customers we get to new projects in which we quote our products for the period from 2017 to 2022. Participation in new projects inevitably creates space for the company development. It was preceded by evaluations of our company from clients that have long ranged from 97 to 100 points, not only in terms of quality, but also in terms of timeliness of delivery. We respect decisions of our clients who often invite us to contribute in development of their own products due to our good business relationship and long term cooperation in the field of technological development. It is an honour as well as great lesson for our company," Lubomir Truchly explains the company backstage.
3T is a company controlled solely by demand from clients who are – paradoxically − their biggest competitors. Many of them still concentrate a large part of their manufacturing of individual components in their own facilities, while the client purchases a smaller part from external manufacturers, where 3T features as one of the suppliers. To win a client, the company must develop technology that produces the same component in the required quality, but cheaper than the client. We thereby optimize material proposal and processing technology. This allows the client to concentrate solely on their "core business" and to leave production of semi-products to the supplier. The client thereby creates a space for the improvement of subsequent production and the final product. "We thus enable the client to deal with other operations, including their own marketing and meeting the requirements of their customers. A specific element of the production is accuracy, which is measured in hundreds of millimetres. Therefore, we must be able to measure everything we produce, so that we can compare our results with the results of measurements provided by the client and in case of any claims. Fortunately, claimed products are scarce as hen’s teeth," says Lubomir Truchly.
3T began to produce the first rotary parts firstly for the US market, namely for the company NTN. As a consequence of the fall of the US dollar against the Slovak koruna, they were forced to terminate their business. Subsequently, the company was released for INA Kysuce and Timken Czech Republic, currently known by the name Koyo Czech Republic. In 2004, 3T developed the first five-year plan, setting out its vision for the future development in the segment of producer of semi-products for bearing industry. Development represented growth in all areas of the company - manufacturing and non-manufacturing.
"After the global crisis in 2008, we had to quickly respond to changing requirements of our clients. The lots were reduced, and annual volumes were fragmented into a large number of small orders. We have been able to meet the clients’ new requirements and remain on the market also thanks to the flexible production offered by the Haas CNC machines. We responded to new challenges by buying Haas lathes with feeders, which enabled us to manufacture certain rotating parts of pipes and rods. We thereby eliminated the process of manufacturing "blanks" for turning, and we managed to keep our price at a competitive level. It was a difficult time..." says the manager of 3T.
After the crisis years, we continued to develop the company in line with the vision from 2006. "Our vision in 2006 was to build a company that would have a logistical and manufacturing facility made to provide the best possible service to our customers. Office space gave way to production areas. Company leadership was moved to the superstructure of an existing building with industrial architectural elements. Currently we have 1,700 m2 of production area, 500 m2 of warehouse area and restrooms for our employees. Colour-tuned social spaces, as well as grassy areas around the whole company are only a fraction of our efforts to create an employee-friendly work environment where employees like to come, and which also motivates them to perform their duties better," continues Lubomir Truchly. Likewise his companion, he also sees the production process from the perspective of ordinary workers. During their career they actually both underwent all its stages. They both consider human potential as the most valuable asset in the company. Without a good, educated and properly motivated staff it would be impossible to progress. And this is also why the company gives a chance to young apprentices to gain experience directly in the manufacturing environment. Who knows, maybe even the newest ones who began to familiarize with Haas CNC machines in September, will become 3T employees in the future...