STS Industrie sets new strategic direction based on expertise, technology and global customer service
Advanced equipment and NX CAM enable innovation, growth and market leadership
A preferred partner when it comes to “turnkey” manufacturing tools, STS Industrie (STSI), founded in 1996 by Michel Fournier, is one of few companies in the Small-to-Medium-sized Businesses (SMB) classification that offers consultancy, services and industrialization in the area of complex shape machining for various industries, including automobile, nuclear, medical and luxury goods.
From its origins to today’s company, STSI development has always been governed by three principles: responsiveness, flexibility and know-how.
In order to reinforce its position as a specialist and project developer and to meet the increasingly complex requirements of its customers, particularly in the medical and automobile sectors, the company is investing in cutting-edge technologies. This includes Siemens PLM Software’s NX™ CAM software solutions and advanced machining centers. Considering the volatile economy and a highly competitive market segment, management considered the investment a significant and daring maneuver to ensure the sustainability of the company.
STSI offers its customers a wide range of services, from design – even the research and development of a tool – to its production process, whether as a single unit or a mass product, and no matter how complex the subassembly may be.
All of its services, including studies and design, mechanics, electric spark machining, turning/machining of hard materials, rectification, cutting/pressing, sheet metal work, engraving/marking and quality/metrology are supported by state-of-the-art, in-house technology. This includes being the only company in France to be equipped with an ultrasonic machining center. The result – last year net sales exceeded two million Euros with a workforce of only 13 people.
“Our business has been evolving constantly,” explains the manager of STSI, Dimitri Fournier. “We have been increasingly specializing in machining complex shapes; we deal with rare birds on a daily basis. This has even become our strong market differentiator. We decided to do everything in-house in order to see this approach through and continue to apply the three principles to which the company owes its success. Instead of subcontracting we chose to invest heavily in both CAM and a 2- and 5-axis machining center.”
The implementation of this new corporate strategy began in 2006 with the development of STSI’s Design Office, which doubled in manpower in two years, and with the selection of two 5-axis machines and a CAM software solution.
After visiting a trade show, Dimitri Fournier selected three software vendors and involved all his teams, especially the end-users, in the choice of the CAM system. “The results of the tests performed here are what differentiated Siemens’ NX CAM from the others,” he says. “We observed that NX allowed us to get the most out the 5-axis machines that we had recently purchased and, above all, that because of the multiplicity and diversity of its functions, the software supports us throughout our future developments.”
NX CAM delivers successful project development
The NX CAM stations have been rolled out in the design office. “We really started from scratch as regards CAM; it was a whole new technology for us and we were ready to learn everything fast,” says Fournier.
The company pulled out all the stops to turn this ambitious undertaking into a success. Fournier points out, “We trained our users and doubled our staff in two years; we made sure that our specialized know-how would also translate into CAM, even if the latter was new to us.” Mission accomplished: the company is now able to respond more quickly and adapt faster. Among examples is the very complex machining of a thermoforming mold, which included a great deal of warped shapes. The mold was designed, executed and delivered in 72 hours’ time. This would have been impossible before NX CAM.
The company takes pride in its state-of-the-art machines, including two UGV 5-axis machining centers (one ultrasonic for hard, brittle materials) and one 4-axis machining center, all of which are controlled by two NX CAM stations.
“We are the first in France to have invested in this ultrasonic machine,” reveals Fournier. “I think there are not many SMBs availing cutting-edge CAM solutions such as NX, which allows us to stand out, demonstrate our expertise and maintain our lead over the competition. By implementing new technologies, we are even able to access new markets – clock making for instance.”
STSI has achieved its goal of successfully implementing a global project development strategy, which has enabled it to further its global business partnerships.
One of STSI’s specialities: handling rare birds
All industrial sectors are facing the same challenge: again and always, they must be competitive. The requirements of STSI’s customers are increasingly complex; tool designs are more and more sophisticated and everyone is trying to be creative.
“Today, we are able to assist our customers from start to finish,” says Fournier. “Even if the components we produce are increasingly complex and require more and more resources to produce, almost one programmer per machine, we have all the means at our disposal, both technical and human, to meet these requirements. The easy recovery of our customer files (which include a lot of warped shapes and complex planes), their verification and their modification if need be, followed by a check, and then the development of programs for our numerically controlled machines – all this using NX CAM – has become part of our daily activities.” Fournier good-humouredly adds, “Almost child’s play for STSI’s experts.”
This has enabled STSI to develop partnerships with rare birds, so to speak, that is customers having very special needs. For example, in the medical sector, where the requirements are among the strictest, companies have found in STSI a supplier equal to the task.
Within the span of two years, STSI has secured a leading market position, broadened its business sectors, doubled the staff employed at its Design Office and acquired some of the most efficient and innovative technical tools. “Today, we are one of the few SMBs offering a global project development approach, entirely managed in-house; this is what differentiates us from our competitors and allows us to remain ahead of them,” says Fournier. “Our market position and success can be attributed to the investments we make in state-of-the-art technologies and, last but not least, to the human expertise that was already our linchpin. Together, NX CAM and the machining centers are assets that ensure the sustainability of STS Industrie and reinforce our position in our particular tooling market.”