STAHLWILLE is one of Germany's TOP 100 innovators

STAHLWILLE, the tool specialist from Wuppertal, Germany, has been selected as one of the 100 most innovative small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in Germany.

This highly acclaimed innovation seal of approval has been awarded for over 20 years and, this year, the mentor is the physicist and journalist Ranga Yogeshwar. The jury was particularly impressed by the way this tradition-based enterprise has integrated the philosophy of innovation in its organisation and the day-to-day work and lives of its staff.

TOP 100 is the only competition in Germany that assesses and attests a company's approach to innovation management, and is recognised as being among the most important awards for innovative SMEs. STAHLWILLE is one of the enterprises granted membership of the elite Club of Excellence in 2017 – a company that can look back over more than 150 years of tradition in the development and manufacture of high-quality handtools, and renowned among professionals for its outstanding reputation, in particular in the field of torque technology.

The members of the jury were particularly impressed by the way STAHLWILLE has embedded the idea of innovation in the enterprise's organisational processes: in 2014 this specialist for torque technology laid the foundations for providing innovative solutions to the increasing requirements of its customers in aerospace, transport, energy and industry generally well into the future. The fields of product development, product management and marketing were unified into one division, and the innovation strategy, by the code name of "Nordstern" (North Star), implemented jointly by all staff with a view to activating the know-how of all STAHLWILLE employees across all levels of the enterprise and all hierarchical grades. At the same time, a decision was taken to upgrade the torque technology section to the highest priority to cater for the fact that, throughout industry, the requirements for professional fastener tightening are increasing steadily and users are often faced with the question of how to document their work and ensure legally watertight evidence of the quality of their activities.

"These changes in the enterprise structure and the implementation of a culture of reciprocal dialogue have, at the end of the day, enabled us to launch many innovations in recent years that have drawn the attention of the market", says Winfried Czilwa, Chief Executive Officer of STAHLWILLE. As part of this approach, STAHLWILLE has considerably expanded its range of electronic, logging torque products, which has much simplified complex processes in production and quality assurance. In the last year, STAHLWILLE launched numerous new products – such as the compact SmartCheck torque tester and the VDE torque wrench for bolt tightening on "live" components up to 1000 volts.

And for 2017 STAHLWILLE has a further set of innovations lined up. A key point of focus is a determined approach to one of the most crucial topics for the future: Industry 4.0. STAHLWILLE is already developing products that can be easily integrated in complex IT system environments and are able to communicate with each other and with the central control station. The first of these products for the field of torque technology are already in the pipeline.

"Examples like these emphasise the fact that innovation management is in reality a part of everyday life. This is why we will bear the TOP100 quality accolade with a great deal of pleasure – in the knowledge that we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. There are still many ideas to explore and transform into innovations – in particular at a time when technological developments are taking place at an ever increasing rate", says Czilwa.

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