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Karlheinz Schmitt

biography

PERSONAL PROFILE KARL-HEINZ SCHMITT Born in 1950 in Darmstadt-Arheilgen, Germany, Karl-Heinz was educated in Germany, and trained as a mechanical draughtsman by Goebel GmbH, then a leading German specialist printing machine manufacturer in Darmstadt. In 1968, Karl-Heinz immigrated to South Africa together with the Schmitt family, to take up employment with Euler Engineering, at the time a manufacturer of hydraulic hot plate veneer presses. Together with a small team, Karl-Heinz was commissioned to establish a new company, W. Euler & Co, to exploit the opportunities then existing in the armaments industry. At first, his responsibilities focused on establishing an in-house tool room with tool room turning and milling, surface grinding, cylindrical grinding, spark erosion and specialized heat treatment facilities. Until 1972, Karl-Heinz gained extensive experience in the field of tool and die making, and during these years, Karl-Heinz was also instrumental in developing the manufacturing facilities of W. Euler & Co. The manufacturing activities of W. Euler & Co included Injection moulding of thermoplastic engineering polymers, compression moulding, transfer moulding and injection moulding of thermosetting moulding compounds, combined injection / compression moulding of elastomers, reverse impact extrusion of aluminium, multi stage deep drawing of copper, brass, aluminium and steel alloys, multi stage drawing of precision thin wall aluminium tubing, blanking and forming of metal components, and the die cutting and forming of cardboard, paper, fabric and felt materials. For many of the processes, Karl-Heinz designed and developed specialized machinery. After the resignation of the General Manager of Euler Engineering in 1972, Karl-Heinz was promoted to Technical Manager of both companies Euler Engineering and W. Euler and company. He was now responsible for all the design and sales activities of Euler engineering, as well as all technical matters at W. Euler & Co, negotiating defence force contracts and liasing with Armscor companies. Under his leadership, Euler Engineering diversified into manufacturing hydraulic presses not only for the woodworking industry, but also for the metal, plastic and rubber industries. On the W. Euler & Co side, production techniques were constantly improved and a quality control system, complying fully with defence force standards was successfully implemented. In 1976, Karl-Heinz was promoted to General Manager of both Euler Companies, having a total staff compliment of about 75 people, and about 3500 square meters of factory space. When in 1979 the direction of the business was changed by the shareholders, Karl-Heinz resigned and joined Mr. Pierre Henderson in a partnership to start the Multisystems group of companies. Initially, MUST (abbreviation of Multisystems) Machinery was established, to continue to build specialized hydraulic presses and machinery. Starting fresh with a small team, Karl-Heinz could focus with renewed vigour on all aspects of machine design, and at that time, a new level of technical sophistication was introduced into machine design by Must Machinery. The then new hydraulic cartridge logic element technique was extensively used together with closed loop (feed back) electronic proportionate control on hydraulic pumps and valves. This technology was backed by Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC's) controlling the machine processes, and Must machinery was building some very advanced machines by international standards at that time. Some outstanding machine projects during the 1970’s were: 1200 ton hydraulic press for the repair of conveyor belts for the mining industry supplied to Dunlop, Benoni. With 1200 ton pressing force and a platen size of 2400 by 2000 mm, the weight of the machine was 85 tons. The press plates were steam heated and water cooled, with vacuum water draining system and complete temperature – time – pressure process control system suitable for rubber and PVC belts. 200 ton hydraulic press, 5 daylights, heated, with a platen size of 10.5 m by 1.5m for the manufacturing of composite metal – PUR cold storage panels, manufactured for SA Linde, subsequently Riasco Taylor. 500 ton hydro-mechanical impact extrusion press manufactured for own production. 250 ton injection – compression moulding machine for the production of O-rings, manufactured for own production. Several aluminium tube drawing machines to produce precision aluminium aerial tubing, manufactured for own production. Some outstanding machine projects during the 1980’s were: 100 ton fully automatic compression moulding machine for the production of bottle caps from melamine thermo setting compounds used on medicine bottles for up to 50 cavity moulds, with individual cavity material metering and loading device as well as automatic unscrewing device for up to 50 cavities, operating at a 50 second cycle time. This new concept machine achieved a reduction of material wastage from 28% down to 6%, and a decrease in cycle time from 1 min 30 sec to 50 seconds. This machine was built for Hart Ltd. 300 ton high speed hydraulic metal forming presses producing clutch plates. The machines were built for Vaal Metal Pressings (Pty) Ltd. 400 ton high speed hydraulic deep drawing presses built for Fedmech Ltd. These presses had a table size of 1500 mm by 1200 mm and a cushion pressure of 150 tons. 150 ton hydraulic rubber transfer moulding presses to mould rubber collars onto drill rods for the use in mines. These machines were moulding 10 drill rods at a time and had a shuttle loading / unloading system incorporated so that loading and unloading took place while another set was moulding. This new technology improved production speed considerably, reduced the number of workers involved in the production to 20% of the workers previously involved and increased the product quality substantially. These machines were built for Boart Hard Metals Ltd. 100 ton hydraulic Vee-belt moulding machines, moulding up to 30 Vee-belts at a time in fully automatic cycle, built for Dunlop. 200 ton hydraulic compression moulding press for tungsten carbide components, with programmable pressure profile of floating die holder plate, to control the density of the tungsten carbide component, prior to sintering. This machine was built for Boart Hard Metals Ltd. High production Vacuum forming machine for the production of acrylic bath tubes made for Constantia Bathrooms (Cobra). 250 ton very high performance deep drawing press with 1200 mm by 1200 mm table size and 100 ton die cushion with programmable pressure profile, for the deep drawing of delicate non ferrous thin gauge components, built for Silverton Engineering, AE group. Karl-Heinz has conceptualized, designed and managed the manufacturing process of well over 500 machines of all descriptions, just too numerous to mention. Many of these machines have been major improvements on existing technology, and have outperformed existing machines that clients already had at their disposal. Because the partner of Karl-Heinz, Pierre Henderson, had built up experience in the modular furniture industry, it was decided to enter the office furniture industry via establishing a furniture component manufacturing company named Multipanels. This was in 1982, and around that time, it was the advent of the technology of postforming melamine laminates. Multipanels was set up to manufacture and supply postformed components to the kitchen and office furniture industry. As the then available equipment and machinery for this new postforming process was considered inadequate for a number of reasons, Karl-Heinz designed and developed a revolutionary new postforming machine that was patented world wide. Six weeks after having started to produce and deliver postformed components into the South African market, Multipanels was purchased by the P G Bison group for a handsome profit, as Multipanels posed a major threat to P G's own postforming component production. Must Machinery has sold 25 of these new postforming machines into the South African market, and the international patent rights were sold in 1984 to the Homag group in Germany, being the largest group of manufacturers of wood working machinery, world wide. Brandt Maschinenbau, a subsidiary of Homag, has since built, sold and installed more than 1000 of these postforming machines around the globe. After the sale of Multipanels to P G Bison, Karl-Heinz and Pierre established the company Multi Office. This company was set up to produce high volume, low cost and good quality office furniture, targeting specifically the dealer market. Within 4 years, by 1988, Multi Office became the leading office furniture producer in its market segment, producing about 200 complete work stations daily, in two production plants totalling about 10 000 square meters of production space. Being the Technical Director, Karl-Heinz was responsible for product development, facility development, the implementation and maintaining of production systems as well as the managing of the new acquisition C & C Cabinets in Brits. At the same time Karl-Heinz was managing Must Machinery. When a severe recession hit during 1991, which found Multi Office financially over geared, it was necessary to implement a drastic cutback program, resulting in the eventual closure of the Boksburg production plant of Multi Office in 1992. At the end of 1991 however, Karl-Heinz felt that the Multisystems group could no longer support all the directors, and resigned as a director of Multisystems as well as terminating the partnership with Pierre Henderson. Early 1992, Karl-Heinz established KHS CONSULTING CC, specializing in the design and development of office furniture products, also making available his vast knowledge of manufacturing technology, factory management and production systems and machinery. In addition, KHS CONSULTING represents a number of European manufacturers of quality office furniture hardware. During the years of 1995 - 2000, Karl-Heinz has acquired an in-depth knowledge of CNC machining technology for woodworking production. In this time, Karl-Heinz has also been instrumental in developing cost effective polyurethane edge moulding technology. Having initially developed technology to avoid infringement of overseas patents, Karl-Heinz's latest development is once again patented, as it surpasses existing technology in productivity by far, while still maintaining quality levels of the highest international standards. On the product development side, Karl-Heinz won the coveted SABS Design Award in 1996 for designing the PROTON Range of office furniture made by Garveni. In 2000, once again Karl-Heinz received a SABS Design Institute Award for designing the “Aktiviti” range of desking also manufactured by Garveni. For his design work Karl-Heinz employs the latest 3-D CAD/CAM technology, and has invested in 2 Fused Deposition Modelling machines. These state of the art machines represent the latest technology in the field of rapid prototyping, and are used for growing components directly from the computer model, without the use of any tooling. Since 2005, Karl-Heinz is involved together with the Lomold team of plastic processing specialists in developing new products and mould systems for the patented Lomold injection moulding technology suitable for large injection moulded parts. The technology features the injection moulding of long glass fibre, coupled to the polymer, without breaking up the long fibre during the moulding process. This is not possible with conventional injection moulding technology. Also polymers can be formulated and compounded during the moulding process. The result is stronger and lighter components, shorter cycle times and much lower material cost. This technology is ideal for components like pallets, and Karl-Heinz has been involved with the Lomold team in setting up production plants in China and in South Africa. More production facilities are envisaged in key locations throughout the world. In the Lomold team, Karl-Heinz is responsible for product and tooling design. As part of the Lomold development team, Karl-Heinz was awarded in 2010 the JCE Innovation Award in the transport division for creating the lightest and strongest plastic pallet in the world. The JCE is a worldwide organization with the head office in Paris, France, who actively promotes the use of composite materials in all industries for the benefit of energy conservation and for ecological reasons. Once again, in 2011, Karl-Heinz together with the Lomold team, were the sole winners of the Owens Corning Composite Application Challenge, out of over 500 accepted international entries. Owens Corning is the largest glass producer in the world, with the head office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. During 2011, Karl-Heinz has re-developed the Lomold technology to the extent that previously, the long fibre injection moulding technology could only be applied with a specially designed and built injection unit and the control thereof, which made it necessary to invest in new machinery for anyone wanting to use the Lomold technology. With the new development, the technology has been transferred from the injection moulding machine to the mould. This makes it now possible to achieve long fibre injection moulding with standard injection moulding machines. It also makes the technology more flexible and applicable for a wider range of products. As product development is a never ending process, Karl-Heinz believes in long term relationships with his clients, and in this way, has made a considerable contribution to help some previously relatively unknown companies to position themselves as leaders in the South African office furniture industry. In most instances, Karl-Heinz also involves himself in the manufacturing facilities of his clients. Apart from tool design and specialized machinery design, Karl-Heinz plans and lays out complete factories, specifying types and position of machines, services and material handling systems. This service includes productivity and production efficiency studies, streamlining production processes and workflows, recommendation and acquisition of the correct manufacturing machinery and processes, and the implementation of manufacturing processes and production planning systems. His philosophy is one of uncompromising product quality, and product simplicity through technical and manufacturing sophistication, resulting in internationally acceptable, and value for money products. He is looking forward of playing his role in assisting South African manufacturing industries to achieve truly international standards for many years to come.

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