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Blum-Novotest celebrates anniversary

Freedom for innovation
50 Years of Measuring Technology and Machine Tool History
From a one-man engineering office to a technology and global market leader in just 50 years – a rare occurrence even in south-west Germany with all its ‘hidden champions’. Blum-Novotest GmbH has achieved this not only through hard work but by being innovative, intelligent and diligent. To mark this event, the company held the BLUM TECH-TALK under the title ‘50 years of Innovation’ in a very special setting on 7 June 2018: Numerous guests from more than 20 countries heard keynote speeches from leading experts, saw interesting demonstrations in the BLUM Tech-Centre and witnessed the unveiling of a product that combines the experience gained from over 50 years in this field. An excellent opportunity to look back and analyse which genes have helped the company achieve this level of success.

Günther Blum established the company as an engineering office for the machine tool industry on 1 June 1968.

The foundations for the high in-process reliability of BLUM’s production metrology were laid at an early stage. Company founder Günther Blum had become highly involved with machine tools while studying Aerospace Engineering in Stuttgart. Alongside his university course, he carried out design work for various companies and established his own engineering office in Schmalegg near Ravensburg on June 1, 1968. Over the following years, the office worked for well-known companies, including Stama in Schlierbach or the Japanese FANUC Corporation.

Just one year after its foundation, the company decided to expand its service offering from mechanical development to electrical planning. More space was rented in Weissenau near Ravensburg for this particular purpose. All the necessary provisions were now in place for initial staff recruitment. Besides the design engineer Klaus Hoffmann, who had been involved in the business part-time right from the start, Bernd Blum and Rainer Eckenstein joined the small company. While other companies still relied on contactor-based control technology, the young engineering office had already developed its own semiconductor-based interfacing controllers. These extremely reliable controllers were used mainly in Stama machine tools and were one of the company’s best sellers up until the early 1980s. Rapid growth resulted in BLUM having to find a new location to operate from after just five years in Weissenau. A new site was found a few kilometres away in Grünkraut, and the company is still registered there to this very day. During these years, BLUM pioneered the area of tool machine development: The engineering office was, for instance, involved in the development of the world’s most successful machine tool.

At the end of the 1970s, Günther Blum came to a crucial realisation that would shape the company’s future path: Automation is incomplete without process-integrated measuring technology. One approach involved measuring systems that should monitor the process directly in the machine tool. Another approach entailed post-process measuring machines that are no longer located in a separate measuring room but directly in the production hall. Many years of experience with NC machine tools and their electronics seemed to be the ideal model from which to proceed in this field of business. To date, both areas represent two of the three main pillars of BLUM’s product range. The final pillar allows BLUM to supply, for instance, specialised post-process machines for quality control when manufacturing brake discs, shafts and axles, i.e. predominantly for rotation-symmetrical components. The company launched its first 2D measuring machine in 1983. An array of further measuring machines featuring the in-house NC control system, mainly used in the automotive industry, followed. Many of them were fitted with automation technology and networked so that the systems are now used in closed control loops and intervene directly in the production process. Crack detection systems, measuring and automation cells, as well as special measuring systems complement the product range of this business division.