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Greater Zurich companies like Bossard spur on Industry 4.0

Bossard Group based in the Greater Zurich Area specializes in fastener technology and smart systems to increase productivity. Bossard’s SmartBin represents a turning point for Industry 4.0, with concealed intelligent automation that significantly reduces procurement costs.

SmartBin can save up to 70 percent of procurement costs according to Urs Güttinger, CTO of Bossard.
SmartBin can save up to 70 percent of procurement costs according to Urs Güttinger, CTO of Bossard. Image credit: Bossard

There is much more to a screw than meets the eye. This much is clear when it comes to Bossard Group from Zug. Founded in 1831, it is a long-standing company and international leader in fastener technology, specifically because of its ingenuity. It has 85 sites across 32 countries and its headquarters are in the Greater Zurich Area. This ideal logistical location is home to the largest Bossard warehouse, which holds 8,000 metric tons of materials (including screws, nuts, and other fasteners). Every day, the company delivers more than 50 metric tons to its customers in Switzerland and across Europe.

But hardware only makes up about 15 percent of a fastener. The remaining 85 percent of costs come from activities such as design, selection, procurement, storage, logistics, quality control, and assembly. Bossard doesn’t just supply fasteners, it also helps its customers to make assembly or procurement smarter and thus cheaper. Bossard relies on its Smart Factory strategies for this. According to Chief Technology Officer at Bossard, Urs Güttinger, this is why the pool of innovative specialists in the Greater Zurich Area is a central factor in the company’s success.

Smart systems save up to 70 percent of costs

In Switzerland alone, 300 companies have placed their trust in Bossard’s SmartBin innovation. Across the globe, this figure reaches well over a thousand. The system was introduced in 1998 as a turning point in Industry 4.0 and has been updated again and again since then. The advantage of this system is that working with SmartBin means users no longer need to worry about individual C items. The system releases an order fully automatically once stocks are low. Urs Güttinger explains: “SmartBin can save a customer 50 to 70 percent of procurement costs.”

Bossard goes further with its services though, for instance offering a line walk from its Assembly Technology Expert Services. This sees Bossard specialists analyzing a customer’s assembly steps and providing the engineering to make the fastener assembly process more efficient. Digital work instructions from Smart Factory Assembly can simplify assembly processes and increase quality, for instance. Bossard’s expertise is helping some big names, such as Tesla, Stadler Rail, Siemens, Roche, and Komax.

Greater Zurich attracts specialists

Bossard counts on the best specialists to provide its services, but it’s not just the client portfolio and the innovative working processes that help with recruitment. According to CTO Güttinger, the company’s central location in the Greater Zurich Area is also attractive to highly qualified staff. Bossard also actively recruits within the region. Urs Güttinger adds: “This is where we find the best talent. We maintain a presence at various universities with workshops and presentations, meaning that we can attract students.”

In general, the Greater Zurich Area’s ecosystem is vital for the Bossard Group as the trade and service company does not run its own research and development department. Innovations are the result of a decentralized, bottom-up approach: employees introduce innovative ideas and implement these with research partners, software developers, or other specialists. An example of this for IT matters is the long-standing collaboration with the software company Ergon Informatik from Zurich. Bossard is also currently working with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) to expand real-time manufacturing services. This is driving forward complete digitization, from the product range to manufacture and the supply of customer-specific parts. CTO Güttinger believes that the most important seal of approval for Bossard Group is Swiss quality, saying: “Customers worldwide value our typical Swiss values such as reliability and innovation.”


By Adriana Marti-Gubler

This success story was first published by Greater Zurich Area Ltd (GZA).

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