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Läpple has invested approximately EUR 10 million into a new power press and expects to win new business.

LÄPPLE has kept their word. “We will invest in future-proof machines in Heilbronn,” promised CEO Dr. Peter Spahn mid-December in an interview with Heilbronner Stimme. What he meant then becomes clear now.

Transferpresse TSD 4-2500For LÄPPLE Automotive, that is for the sheet metal part division, the company purchased a new transfer press that is worth more than EUR 10 million from Schuler in Göppingen, the global leader in the industry. “This is an investment into the future of the Heilbronn site,” comments Spahn on this largest investment into a single machine in the past years.


Structural parts

Oliver Wackenhut, managing director of LÄPPLE Automotive, speaks of a milestone for LÄPPLE’s headquarters in Heilbronn. With this heavy mechanical 1000 tonne press that fulfils the highest quality requirements, LÄPPLE will be able to use dies with a weight of up 60 tonnes in their production. LÄPPLE Automotive thereby significantly expand their product range. “With this press, we cannot only produce sheet metal parts for outer skins of cars but also structural parts made of steel or aluminium,” explains LÄPPLE Automotive’s technical director, Ralph Lintz. These structural parts are used for doors, hoods, or rear lids, for example. CEO Spahn is convinced that this investment will increase LÄPPLE Automotive’s competitiveness and will help to explore new markets and open up new fields of business. “We spoke with the most important car manufacturers beforehand and orders will be coming in,” says the manager.


However, there will be some time passing before the new press line starts operating. The ground-breaking ceremony for the foundation with a depth of eight metres is planned for mid-June, commissioning is planned for June 2016. “It’s a true challenge to bring into operation such a high-tech plant,” says Wackenhut. Up to 35 workers will be working on and around the press; it is possible that this will generate some additional jobs. The press is part of the new space development concept for the LÄPPLE premises and will be installed in a 3,000 m² hall. “This new concept will ensure that the body production comes closer to the press-shop which will result in synergy effects,” reports Lintz. LÄPPLE’s management expressly praises the “target-oriented and constructive cooperation with the IG Metall union and the works council”. As we reported before, an additional bargaining agreement has been in effect for LÄPPLE Automotive Heilbronn since 1 February 2015 that, among other things, provides for uncompensated extra work of 1.5 hours per week and a reduction of ten percent on the annual extra allowances. For Michael Unser, first representative of the IG Metall Heilbronn-Neckarsulm section, the important thing is that LÄPPLE is now investing into their headquarters which he has been demanding for a long time. “The crisis at this location has definitely come to an end and the company is well prepared for the future,” declares Unser. Matthias Mähr, head of the works council, also states that this site that has been in a critical condition for so long is starting to prosper again. “These investments were taken up extremely positive by the employees,” he says.

No euphoria

CEO Peter Spahn considers the purchase of the press as a step in the right direction but also emphasizes that the positive trend may come to an end. “We still have a long way to go and have not reached our goals yet,” he says to prevent any euphoria.

LÄPPLE group

The group’s sheet metal part division is located in Heilbronn and in the Bavarian town of Teublitz, both operating under the name LÄPPLE Automotive. Companies of the LÄPPLE group are also the LÄPPLE Ausbildungs GmbH in Heilbron, the specialist for standard parts and rotary tables, FIBRO, with locations in Weinsberg and Hassmersheim, and the automation specialist, FIBRO LÄPPLE TECHNOLOGY (FLT), in Hassmersheim. Last year, the group of companies generated a turnover of approximately EUR 400 million with their about 2200 employees.