A former intern from the 1990s, Axel Kunze has been appointed as the new Production Manager of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery GmbH in Wiehe, effective 1 November 2021. The flagship facility which employees 290 team members and currently produces close to 1,000 IntElect machines annually, also functions as the Group’s German competence centre. “My primary goal is to involve and inspire employees to adapt processes and demonstrate that quality and output which underpin our success can be accomplished with clear structures and responsibilities,” explains the 50-year-old.
Kunze, who is known for being a practical and communicative boss, has already expressed an eagerness to collaborate and learn from colleagues in order grow the Wiehe facility by showcasing the level of flexibility and reliability. “The Thuringia location offers a clear advantage in that it is well-recognised, attracts a high calibre of professionals and gives Sumitomo (SHI) Demag a strong market platform to continue to develop our all-electric machine series,” notes Kunze.
The Wiehe production facility has already been earmarked for automation advancement, highlights Kunze, with a view to delivering all the process and system support to customers from a single source. “Through this investment in Wiehe, we will be delivering packaged solutions to customers comprising machines, automation and peripherals,” emphasises Kunze. According to the new production manager, the assembly, wiring and testing of the company’s new SAM-C robots will be the next step on this journey towards ‘one-stop-shopping’.
As a mechanical engineer, Kunze brings with him a depth of expertise coupled with strong local connections to the facility. Having grown up and attended school in Wiehe, as a tenth grader, Kunze accepted an offer from the site’s former VEB Plastmaschinenwerk Wiehe. Straight from secondary school he completed a three-year technical degree at Wildau. During the early 1990s all this academic knowledge was consolidated with a diploma thesis covering assembly concepts for electronic control cabinets in collaboration with Mannesmann-Demag.
With no vacancies at the time with the traditional mechanical engineering company, Kunze accepted a position with a nearby German automotive supplier, progressing to factory manager. For nearly two decades he’s been based in Kentucky, USA, managing Mubea’s production system progressing to running the plant as Operations Manager. Returning to his hometown and the company that set him on his career pathway, Kunze amalgamates all this processing and lean manufacturing expertise as Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s new Production Manager.