Could a company specialised in mechanical transmission components be happy with the emergence of low cost countries? This is the case for REDEX-ANDANTEX, which has been able to build successfully on a family shareholder base for several generations, by putting innovation and quality to the fore, and by opening up to international markets at a very early stage in its history; all these key factors of success are usually attributed to the industrial companies on the German side of the Rhine.
It was this spirit of constant technical innovation, shown from the start by this invention and backed up by a high-level mechanical culture, that was to lead to the company’s launch and its subsequent growth.
Since then, the company has never stopped innovating, as can be seen in the many patents registered and in the levels of sales; currently, over 30% of turnover stems from products developed in the last few years.
“We have never had a loss-making year since the company was set up. Resolute reliance on innovation, while taking care to avoid exceeding our self-financing capacities, constitutes our core company strategy”, explains Bruno Grandjean, the Chairman of the Company Board since 2001, and the founder’s grandson.
A few years later, indeed, a new invention enabled the company to make the planetary reduction drives even more compact, thanks to a patented process involving injection of a composite material to bond the planet gears with their shafts. This fresh innovation enabled REDEX-ANDANTEX to supply the most compact reduction drives and differentials on the market at the time.
Then, in 1960, came the first establishment set up at an international level, in Manchester, England. This was followed by establishments in Italy and the USA.
The company subsequently set up a machine division by acquiring a licence covering sheet stretching processes; this enabled it to diversify while adding value to its own products in the metalworking equipment that it then started to manufacture.
REDEX-ANDANTEX went through a transitional period between 1981 and 1999, during which the Company retained its values intact, but without launching any major actions, other than setting up links with SENDZIMIR, an American engineering company specialized in rolling steel.
In 1999, the Company began a fresh cycle of external growth, with the acquisition of MEROBEL, at which Bruno GRANDJEAN took over as Manager. MEROBEL, a manufacturer of brakes and clutches, is also a specialist in band tension control, a technique used in the printing and converting industries (transformation of paper and plastic films). The companies were able to bring considerable new impetus to each other, in a climate of mutual respect. In particular, MEROBEL had a highly efficient sales and marketing organization and a well-developed distribution network, and it also opened up avenues for REDEX-ANDANTEX in the mecatronics field.
The pace of events then picked up. Bruno GRANDJEAN, a qualified engineer who also holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Stanford, introduced new industrial methods: reductions in the number of references, standardization of the ranges, modularity to enhance the levels of use of shared components, reductions in the stocks and delivery lead times, and implementation of strict approval procedures for all requests involving special products. “We had to channel the creativity of our design engineering departments”, explained Bruno GRANDJEAN.
In 2003, REDEX-ANDANTEX acquired some of the assets of CATEP, a French company specialized in precision angle drives, and which was facing major financial difficulties at the time.
Here again, the effects of synergy between the various company cultures were felt in full, but this time, they concerned the field of rationalization of industrial performance levels.
On the strength of its new capacities, the Company turned to a new market: Machine Tools, and to a new product range: high-technology reduction drives specifically developed for these applications.
“As from 2002, we felt the need to change our positioning”. Under the REDEX-ANDANTEX name, from 2002 on the Company industrialized a range of planetary reduction drives, two-speed spindle gear boxes, and finally backlash-free rack and pinion drive systems.
Although the traditional markets for machine tools are in decline, these new ranges have seen immediate success, because the levels of performance they provide are vastly superior to those of the existing solutions. “Most of the technical concepts in our new ranges were already on the drawing board. We then had to take the time to redesign them to adapt them to suit market expectations, build up a competitive range, and of course industrialize them.”
To further enhance commercial efficiency, a specific software aid was developed for the DualDRIVE range. In the light of the user constraints, torque, speed, acceleration, onboard weight and service factor, a model is put forward by the software to meet a given application. “At this level, too, the experience accumulated on an internal basis was essential. The feedback from our teams has enabled us to better adjust the sizing criteria for the products implemented in the software.”
REDEX-ANDANTEX now has over 50 persons working on this activity, and it is progressively establishing contacts with most of the major machine tool manufacturers, whose names are well known worldwide, and whose customers include Boeing, Airbus, Siemens, etc.
To give an example, drive systems based on REDEX-ANDANTEX reduction gears have helped to meet the performance requirements imposed by Boeing on the machines used to make the composite fuselages for its 787 Dreamliner.
During the same period, the Chinese market, which benefits especially from the boom in the steel market, became one of REDEX-ANDANTEX’s main markets.
Thanks to its local presence, the Company is currently the uncontested worldwide leader for SENDZIMIR rolling mill support cylinders, with a market share of over 50%. There are 20 of these critical elements in this type of rolling mill. Because they are subjected to considerable stresses inside this continuous production equipment, they are synonymous with very high precision and very high levels of reliability.
Between 2000 and 2006 the staff levels in France rose from 180 to 270, and sales doubled, from €20 million to €40 million. For the second year running, the Company showed growth of 15%, making 70% of its sales outside France (as against 50% in 2003).
New sales outlets have been set up: in Germany to start with, followed by China, with an office in Shanghai, and more recently Spain, in the heart of the machine tool techno-centre around Bilbao.
At the same time, an ambitious investment plan totalling €6 million over three years was launched in 2006, to enable the industrial tool to accompany the sales growth.
This decision is a sign of the Company’s strong will to retain full control of manufacturing in France, where its skills lie and where it has concentrated its experience.
“We do not envisage any delocalization of our activities. For products with high added value, like ours, there is nothing to be gained from manufacturing in low-cost countries. On the other hand, we have nothing against inviting European suppliers, and especially those in Germany and Italy, to provide the elements in our supplies that involve collaboration with the best specialists.”
REDEX-ANDANTEX is an independent group, with its head office in Ferrières, in France. The Company has a total staff of 320 worldwide, and over 10 nationalities are represented in the design, manufacturing, sales and technical support teams.
REDEX-ANDANTEX has 3 production sites in Europe and in the USA (14,000 sq. m with more than 100 numerically controlled machine tools). 70% of the Company’s sales are made outside its country of origin.
Technological progress, quality undertakings and exceptional levels of technical assistance constitute REDEX-ANDANTEX’s core values.
“Our objective over the medium term is to further improve our position on our niche markets. In particular, we intend to become the worldwide leader in the advanced mechanical transmissions segment.
Our successful experience in the acquisition of major companies enables us to keep all our options open in making this ambition a reality”, concludes Bruno GRANDJEAN.