Our mission is to find the right producer for every order and to offer the best price
by Dagmar Dieterle
marketSTEEL: What is the founding idea or business model of Laserhub?
Sheet metal processing is a very analogous industry. Sheet metal parts are usually ordered by fax, telephone or email. This is unproductive because the machinery is becoming more and more modern and has to be used to full capacity. However, this is becoming more and more difficult due to the analogue orientation of the enquiry and ordering processes.
Laserhub completely avoids this administrative effort: We provide our customers with a digital offer in real time, the customer can order the required sheet metal parts online and at the same time we identify the suitable producers for the processing.
This offers advantages for both sides: The producer, by being able to specialize in what he does well, and the customer, who can reduce his procurement costs. If the analogous procurement from quotation to order usually takes a week, it is reduced to a few minutes. Laserhub also uses active digital supplier management to find the most suitable supplier in order to provide the customer with the product in the shortest possible time and with the desired quality. In simple terms, this is Laserhub's business model.
marketSTEEL: The overall costs of further processing are becoming more and more important. What are the advantages (beyond cost savings) for Laserhub's customers?
In booming times, one looks at the individual costs of a transaction, but when the economic situation is weakening, the overall costs of a process come into focus. Every sheet metal part causes costs and therefore every entrepreneur or buyer wants to keep these costs to a minimum.
This is achieved by reducing the time required for the ordering process. Our analyses promise time savings of up to 75 percent of the procurement effort. In addition, the prices become attractive, as the sheet metal worker saves costs for order acquisition, order preparation, etc. In this way, process costs are reduced on both sides, which increases the efficiency of the entire transaction and thus that of the industry.
marketSTEEL: What trends do you see in finishing?
We are observing that batch sizes are becoming smaller and smaller, especially in mechanical engineering. This largest group of buyers of sheet metal parts is looking for individual solutions, which would normally mean an increase in price if the digitized ordering process were not chosen.
A further trend can be seen in the fact that procurement in Eastern Europe is attractive due to the view of total costs, although production in Germany is and will remain competitive in many areas due to digital and automated processes.
In addition, sheet metal will continue to have a great future. In 3-printing, there is currently a lack of quantities and speed, which means that sheet metal will certainly remain interesting in the coming decades.
marketSTEEL: In which countries are you active and where do you see the greatest growth opportunities?
We started with Germany because it represents the largest European market, which can be seen in the gross domestic product. But our focus is on Europe as a whole, with Austria representing our first foreign market. On the one hand it offers about 10 percent of the German market, on the other hand there are no language barriers. Since May of this year, we have had the first Austrian suppliers, especially since our goal is local production. The closer the network becomes, the closer we get to our customers, which greatly reduces transport distances.
We are also targeting the second largest European market, France. With production in Germany, we will first get to know the market and its needs. However, we expect the first producers in France to join the network by the beginning of 2020. This will also be seen as a business model for internationalization, as we want to use France as a blueprint for the other countries.
Of course, the Eastern European countries, where many processing companies are located, are also interesting, as are Italy and Spain as exciting countries for the development of large series.
marketSTEEL: What goals and visions does Laserhub have?
We saw and see our task in digitizing sheet metal processing. The European producer market offers the best conditions for a platform because it meets all relevant criteria: For example, with 80 billion euros, it is a highly fragmented market offering 15,000 producers. In addition, it is small to medium-sized companies that serve a regional market. The target group ranges from small craft businesses to OEMs and is just as fragmented as the producer market. It is therefore difficult for every customer to find the right producer and for producers to specialise.
Our objective is to find the right producer for each order, who produces the perfect components and delivers these parts to the customer at the right time. And the right producer is always the one who offers the best price, because he uses the right machines that can process the order most efficiently.
marketsteel: Mr. Rößner, thank you for the interview.