SOLLICH KG is the global market leader in chocolate processing machinery. But when the time came to renew their machinery, this family company from Bad Salzuflen in East Westphalia was faced with a major challenge. It had to find a means of manufacturing individual parts flexibly and efficiently in a wide variety of sizes and lengths, and despite their increasing complexity. In HEDELIUS Maschinenfabrik, they found a partner who could make it all possible.
When Robert Sollich founded his bakery and pastry shop in Ratibor, Upper Silesia, over a hundred years ago, he also laid the foundations for a huge success story. A few years later, the company moved to Rostock and the bakery became a producer of confectionery and the associated machinery. Many of these machines were delivered to East Westphalia, which was a hub of the confectionery industry at that time. As a result, Robert Sollich too made the move, relocating to Bad Salzuflen in 1950, where he concentrated on developing chocolate machines. The 1970s saw the start of industrial production. The second generation of the family made a significant contribution to this evolution of the business. “Helmut Sollich, our founder’s son, led the company from 1966 and had a real influence on the company's industrial direction,” says Kersten Stolpe, Production Manager at SOLLICH. Today the company has over 400 employees and is managed by the third generation of the Sollich family. The fourth generation is already in the starting blocks. Over the decades, the global machinery manufacturer has become the market leader in the temperature control process for chocolate and enrobing systems. "It is very difficult to process chocolate using machinery in such a way that it ultimately meets the high demands of the customers. This is our core area of expertise," explains Stolpe. "We not only supply customers with machinery, but also hone it according to their wishes, conduct practical tests, put systems into operation and provide excellent service.”
“We’re almost like a family.”
Everyone at SOLLICH pulls together in order to be able to make products and execute projects at short notice, while also meeting high standards of hygiene, functional reliability and durability. “We’re almost like a family. There’s hardly any turnover among employees, because we put a great emphasis on appreciation and modern corporate management,” says Stolpe, himself a SOLLICH veteran with over 30 years of service. He adds, “The company lives through its people. We have highly trained, skilled workers with a lot of experience and expertise.” That is carried across to the design and manufacture of the machinery in turn. At the same time, however, modern production facilities are also required in order to be able to meet the constantly increasing demands of customers. “We almost exclusively manufacture order-related individual parts, and things often have to be done quickly in order to meet customer needs. This means that flexible machining is necessary. At the same time, parts for new machines are becoming more and more complex,” says Alexander Janott, Machining Foreman at SOLLICH. When their machine pool needed to be upgraded, the company was looking for a supplier who could meet these challenges.
An array of different requirements
The company has to manufacture many different products, from small workpieces to long, heavy components over 3,000 mm in length, mainly from stainless steel, but also from aluminium and plastic. In addition to these challenges, they also required more from their new machining centres supplier. The aim was to have to reclamp as few pieces as possible, but to be able to manufacture more sophisticated parts. “Milled parts are getting more complicated. The customers have ever higher requirements of our machines, so we have to be able to respond to that,” says Stolpe. After an intensive selection process by a large committee of specialists and managing executives, the East Westphalian company struck gold. HEDELIUS Maschinenfabrik GmbH from Meppen, Lower Saxony, was able to meet their requirements. Foreman Janott is pleased with the outcome: “We knew what we needed and the HEDELIUS machining centres are designed precisely for our product range and our requirements.”
Large machining centres with a swivelling main spindle
Late 2017 saw the acquisition of the first machining centre by the north German family-run company, a 3-axis machine FORTE 65 Single 1320 with travelling distances of 1,320 x 650 x 600 mm (x/y/z). Less than three months later, before the delivery of the FORTE 65, SOLLICH ordered two 5-axis milling machines with swivelling main spindles from the TILTENTA series, a T6-2300 with travelling distances of 2,300 x 600 x 695 mm (x/y/z) and a T9-2600 with 2,600 x 900 x 900 mm (x/y/z). “At the outset, we were toying with the idea of the larger swivel head machines,” admits Stolpe. The 3-axis milling machine was procured first in order to gain some experience before the 5-axis machining centres were put into operation. As a result, three extremely versatile milling machines began operating in 2018. These allow the use of rotary tables and swivel bridges. The clamping of vices in a row, vacuum clamping plates or grid plates can also be achieved without any issues. After all, HEDELIUS machining centres are extremely versatile. Exactly how they wanted things at SOLLICH.
All three machining centres were ordered with the same controls and spindle. They have Heidenhain TNC 640 controls and a 29 kW spindle with a speed of up to 12,000 rpm. “The idea is that members of staff can switch between any of the machines in order to achieve the most efficient one-shift operation possible. It’s worked out very well. Our people have adjusted brilliantly to the new situation and new machinery,” says Stolpe, full of praise for his employees. The 5-axis machining centres have also been equipped with a standby tool magazine that holds up to 180 additional tools. As a result, the TILTENTA 6-2300 has a tool capacity of 220 slots, while the TILTENTA 9-2600 has some 240 slots. “Thanks to the standby magazine, all of our tools are always ready and waiting,” says Michael Nuchte with satisfaction. The machining foreman is particularly impressed with the many details of the HEDELIUS machining centres. "The machines are easily accessible, not only for the operator, but also for maintenance and repair. They have a compact footprint, large viewing windows and a small distance from the spindle nose to the table," says Nuchte. His colleague Alexander Janott adds, "The ratio of the travel to the footprint is very good, so we’re really impressed with HEDELIUS.”
The right partner
SOLLICH is satisfied with their first HEDELIUS machining centres – so satisfied, in fact, that they purchased another milling machine in 2020, naturally with Heidenhain TNC 640 controls and a 29 kW spindle. The 3-axis FORTE 6-2300 machining centre has travel distances of 2,300 x 600 x 800 mm (x/y/z). Here, too, the configuration of a fourth axis is possible, at the least, so that employees can work with swivel bridges or long parts without having to conduct any major conversions. The FORTE 6-2300 fits perfectly into the SOLLICH production concept. The East Westphalian family company is delighted to have found the right partner for its machining centres.