„Open and honest, but without the show“

C 400 | C 52 | C 650 | C 42 | Mangner | Contract manufacturing

Zerspanungstechnik Mangner chooses quality over loud marketing. The company owner now provides us with a rare glimpse inside the production facility. Nine 5-axis machining centres from Gosheim make up the bulk of the machinery. With them on its side, Mangner is sure it can live up to its delivery promises.

The first two weeks were very quiet. Mike Mangner and Dominik Neidhardt spent most days sat in front of the door. "We had the occasional barbecue or went climbing. Obviously, we were fully prepared in case someone called and needed a part quickly," Mike Mangner explains when recalling the humble beginnings of self-employment. He launched Zerspanungstechnik Mangner GmbH in 2013 and hired Dominik Neidhardt from the start. Dominik Neidhardt had been Mike Mangner’s apprentice when he was still employed full-time as a production manager. "When Mike left the company, I definitely wanted to go with him," Neidhardt adds. There were moments, between barbecuing and climbing, when he briefly doubted his decision. "We just gritted our teeth and got on with it," he says without further ado. Mike Mangner basically went door to door, personally introducing himself and his services to local companies in the region between Siegen and Marburg. It was hard at first, but with a first-class team and excellent machines he was able to make a name for himself in the market based on product quality and delivery reliability, thereby creating the foundations for a successful future. Today, it is not unusual for the machines to be running around the clock. "We have a very broad range of customers throughout Germany," explains the managing director.


Success behind closed doors

Mangner is a traditional subcontractor where understatement is seen as a virtue. In fact, Mike Mangner did not do any advertising or publicity at all after purchasing and moving into the facilities in Bad Laasphe, 16 kilometres or so from Steffenberg, in 2014. "We simply paid attention to quality and delivery deadlines. And that is something customers still appreciate to this day," Mike Mangner claims. He believes word of mouth and positive discourse helped develop the business: "Open and honest, but without the show". In fact, it is the first time that Mangner has opened its roller shutter to give anyone a glimpse of its production facilities. "Just for Hermle," stresses the 38-year-old. He appreciates the modest way in which Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle AG goes about its business. "That suits us down to the ground."

Upon entering the workshop, you can see that he is not just impressed by Hermle’s attitude: Nine 5-axis machining centres from Gosheim form a corridor of milling machines. Six further machines from other manufacturers round off the machinery. Mike Mangner believes in having more machines than qualified employees. "We have a great team here. But if one of them is not working at full capacity, it is a big drag on our profitability. If, on the other hand, a milling machine is not running, it enables us to remain flexible," he says when justifying his ongoing technology investments over the past few years – mainly in Hermle machining centres. They include three C 400 U machines, a C 52 U and – since last year – a C 650 U. "That was a relatively spontaneous decision. Thanks to its 1,050 x 900 mm X-Y traverse path, it ties in perfectly with the other 5-axis machines," Mike Mangner explains and admits: "We are a little crazy in that respect. But if we believe something can assist us technically and opens up new opportunities, it does not take us long to make an investment decision."

  • Firmengründer und Geschäftsführer Mike Mangner
    "We simply paid attention to quality and delivery deadlines. And that is something customers still appreciate to this day," claims founder and managing director Mike Mangner.
  • Artur Scheiermann an der C 52 U
    Artur Scheiermann working at his favourite machine, the C 52 U. Mike Mangner claims that his largest Hermle machine provides a real foot-in-the-door – because everyone has smaller machines.
  • Die Hermle-Allee bei Mangner
    Hermle-Allee at Mangner: At the bottom right of the picture is the C 52 U.
  • Das 5-Achs-Bearbeitungszentrum C 650 U
    That could take quite a while – the 5-axis machining centre C 650 U takes up to 100 hours to machine one part of a mould.
  • Dominik Neidhardt arbeitet an der C 400 U
    Dominik Neidhardt enjoys working with the C 400 U: "I started using it about six years ago and have got to know it inside out."

Top fit

At present, the one thing the subcontractor does not have to worry about is capacity utilisation: The workpiece on the machining table of the C 650 U is a component of a 13-part mould. The milling time can be as long as 65 hours. The 5-axis machine mills the mould insert from TQ1. This special steel is characterised by its high temperature strength and maximum toughness, which obviously means greater tool wear. "By working with the right cutting values and other settings, we have managed to get the service life under control and even maximised it," explains machine operator Mario Schäfer, who was the first ever apprentice at Zerspanungstechnik Mangner back in 2014. "When it comes to long machining times, the role of service life is just as important as accuracy," Schäfer says. Because everything has to fit together perfectly, without the need for reworking, when the client subsequently assembles the mould. The contract manufacturer is unable to check whether this is the case beforehand, as there is simply not enough time to assemble the complete mould prior to shipping: The customer is based in the USA, and as soon as a component is ready, Mangner sends it off. "We machine parts with Hermle because we can rely on the accuracy of the machines," Mike Mangner adds. And the positive feedback from his customers proves he is right.


Need more speed

Mike Mangner goes from the C 650 U to his latest investment: A C 42 U. Since its arrival in March 2022, it has basically been running non-stop he explains. Mario Schäfer takes a brief but well-informed look at the machine, which will be working through the night again tonight. Everything is okay. "Mario and I took the decision to buy the C 42 U on our own," discloses Mike Mangner and goes further by saying: "The C 400 U is amazing, but the C 42 U is still more dynamic and faster."

Which job is executed on which machine is a question of size and precision. "High-precision parts are machined on our newest Hermle," Schäfer adds. They are all user friendly and clearly structured – regardless of the year of construction. "The basic principle of the machines and controls is awesome and never changes. There are a few new functions here and there, but they are learned in next to no time," Dominik Neidhardt tells us. That said, he does prefer a certain model: "At the moment, I really enjoy working with the C 400 U. I started using it about six years ago and have got to know it inside out." Artur Scheiermann, a machine operator at Mangner, admits that his favourite is the C 52 U after the boss asks him to join the interview. Scheiermann has also been with the company a long time – since successfully completing his apprenticeship at Mike Mangner’s previous employer: "Generally speaking, I value the accuracy and durability of Hermle machines. But the standardised design is also good. Be it the C 400 U or the C 650 U – it is basically the same principle in a different size." This means that every operator can work reliably at every machine, although they tend not to swap them too often.

Austausch zwischen Gergö Eszenyi und Artur Scheiermann
Brief consultation: Gergö Eszenyi and Artur Scheiermann exchanging knowledge and ideas.

Responsibility is shared at Mangner

"Everyone programs their own parts and is responsible for their own work. Today, we know exactly who manufactured which workpiece," Mike Mangner explains. There is a good working relationship between the ‘guys’, who help each other and exchange knowledge and ideas. "It is important that everything runs smoothly. As this is the only way we can do things better than the others," Mario Schäfer declares. Schäfer and his colleagues are also responsible for taking care of and maintaining the machines: Each machining centre is cleaned from top to bottom at the end of the week. "Just before Christmas, we do our annual big clean-up. It takes about two whole days," Mike Mangner explains. For him to keep his customer promise of "making everything possible", all the machines have to be top fit all the time. "That is also a reason why we chose Hermle. Should something go wrong, we know that a service technician will usually be knocking on our door within a day with the right spare part," the managing director reveals. Fortunately, this is a very rare occurrence.

Mike Mangner looks at the clock. A customer called and he needs to go and meet him. The camera team says goodbye and the roller shutter is lowered. It is no longer very quiet at Mangner today. Since the constant humming of the milling centres can be heard even from the outside.

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