Metalworker makes use of latest digital technology

When hearing of start-ups, one’s initial reaction is to think about the many such companies in Zug which offer some virtual performance, such as crypto-currencies. However, in this case, the latest technology is being used to enable customers to order tailor-made railings online.

Christian Frei, who runs Amboss Metallbau AG metalworking company in Neuheim (Amboss means anvil), is making use of the latest technology to increase the number of his customers by enabling them to order the type of railings they want to the dimensions they want through his “” website, all at a price which includes installation.

The entrepreneur said he hit on the idea after he noticed how many requests for estimates he received about orders for railings. In so many cases these were enquiries about orders for similar types of railings but in small quantities, which caused a lot of work, each potential order meaning buying in small quantities of whatever metal was needed and then welding them by hand. “It made me think to myself, surely there must be an easier way of going about all this. Robots, of course can be used for this, though, of course, you need a minimum number of orders to make this worthwhile,” he said.

Hence Frei developed what he called “express railings”, the surface of which is zinc-plated, making it suitable for exterior use. Then, an optional powder coating means it can be given a particular finish the customer wants, before the railings are then fixed to a concrete base by screws. Frei’s idea was to provide optically pleasing and functional railings in a sort of Lego style, so everything can be ordered online. The tradesman himself stocks the metal at his premises before they are cut and passed on to the Benzenschwil company in the neighbouring canton of Argovia for welding, ensuring speedy delivery.

Frei mentioned he had had this idea for some time but sought advice from the “Zentralschweiz innovativ” (ZSI) agency, a programme set up in the six central Swiss cantons of Lucerne, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schwyz, Uri and Zug, to promote innovation and strengthen competitiveness for small and medium-sized businesses without charging a fee.

According to Bruno Imhof, the managing director of ZSI, Frei is an excellent example of how to make use of digital technology even for small traders working with their hands to extend their areas of business. “These days people do not want to have to wait until the tradesperson opens business on Monday mornings to enquire about as particular product; they want to find out what can be done outside normal working hours. What Frei offers does just this,” he said.

Imhof went on to say how much a tradesman’s work was no longer what it was for so many of them and cited the case of a carpenter who used to hold his tools himself to make his products, whereas nowadays he has to be able to master programming for the work to be done for him. He noticed also how the advice proffered by ZSI was particularly sought by younger generation taking over a family business. “It is only natural they want to modernise things, if only by using digitalisation to plan the layout of a kitchen,” he said.

Of note is that, in addition to advising on the latest technology, ZSI can also help in the area of marketing, too.

Share |

Source/Media Partner: