Sortimo manufactures storage modules and vehicle racking solutions for field technicians.
(Text: Kirti Letsch, Photos: Frederik Laux)
It is an inconspicuous item that you wouldn’t even notice at first if you walked through the well-lit entrance to Sortimo. But the blue metal carrying case is what launched the company’s business in 1973. Herbert Dischinger, founder of the company, developed the KM 321 carrying case specifically for handymen. The removable plastic boxes, which could easily and securely carry small parts such as screws and nails, were truly innovative at the time.
Forty years on, Sortimo is now a leading manufacturer of vehicle racking solutions, load securing systems, and mobile transport solutions represented in 35 countries. The portable systems are especially popular among handymen, contractors, and service technicians, as they are perfectly designed to keep various tools tidy and organized and feature modules that can be combined individually. “We now offer approximately 8,000 products, from complex vehicle racking equipment through to simple hose holders,” says Werner Attinger, who oversees production, which takes place entirely at the headquarters in Zusmarshausen, Germany.
Steel is an essential material here: Sortimo uses steel to design and produce not only the many metal components for its products but also the machines that are used in the plant’s spacious halls. To enable this steel-heavy production process, the company relies on thyssenkrupp’s Steel and Aluminum Service Center team, which has operated under the name thyssenkrupp Materials Processing Europe since 1 July.
Thin but stable
The prefabrication specialist, based in Stuttgart, Germany, supplies slit strip and sheet metal blanks, which are then stamped, bent, and in some cases deep drawn by Sortimo. The company uses approximately 2,000 metric tons of steel each year, the bulk of which comprises flat carbon steel from thyssenkrupp. This partnership goes back many years, which is a testament to the mutual trust that the two companies have for each other. “It is particularly important for us that our suppliers have quick response times. For example, if there is a problem with the materials or there are new requirements from new customers, we can always rely on our Stuttgart-based partner to get back to us promptly,” says Attinger. Heiko Falk, Customer Service Representative responsible for the Service Center team, adds: “We supply hot- and cold-rolled steel, including SCALUR®, which is required at Sortimo due to its exceptional thickness tolerances. We of course keep a certain volume of this steel in stock at all times.”
SCALUR®, from thyssenkrupp’s Steel division, is perfectly suited for deep drawing processes, which require thin materials and are used for internal structural parts when constructing cars as well as when building shelves and furniture, for example. “We use steel not only because of its stability but also because of its look and feel. This is an important factor for our customers from trade and industry,” says Attinger. “This is why we are also interested in steel that retains the same level of stability even when it is thinner after being processed.”
However, what is even more crucial is the high quality of the source material. “We attribute our market success to the durability and high quality of our products, which in turn depend on the quality of the raw material. It is imperative to have perfect steel as a basis in order to produce a high-quality product.” This sentiment reflects the motto that looms over the Sortimo production halls on large blackboards: ‘Other products may be cheaper but never better.’
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