Riding and push lawn mowers need the right blades if they are to work properly. Shredders, feed mixers, and presses used in modern agricultural settings also cannot do without sophisticated cutting tools. Based in Diemelstadt, Germany, Jäkel is one of the leaders in Europe for high-quality blades.
(Text: Dagmar Haas-Pilwat, photos: Julia Unkel)
All production tools for the various cutting products are developed and manufactured in the in-house tool shop. The company processes 6,000 metric tons of steel annually, which it uses to manufacture nearly 2.8 million parts. The majority of them used to be made of wear-resistant spring steel, which is susceptible to breaking, or very tough boron steel, which does not hold an edge well.
However, this year, a pioneering innovation proved its mettle in the fields and meadows of Germany and abroad. The family-owned and run company developed JADU-H1, a specialty steel, together with the thyssenkrupp Steel division.
Frank Jäkel explains, “We wanted a hybrid product that combines the properties of spring and boron steels.” He has run the company at his brother’s side since 2001. It had to be a steel that could hold an edge and remain sharp as long as possible without breaking immediately after hitting stone. “It was a tremendous challenge that we mastered together,” states Christian Sohrab, Head of Sales of Specialty Products for Steel’s Business Unit Industry at thyssenkrupp. An analysis was performed to design a basic concept to show how a steel with these properties could look like.
Next came the precision strip specialists from Precision Steel after trial runs at the Dortmund testing facility. They sent the required 30 metric tons of steel for the first batch. “We made adjustments until our partner thyssenkrupp Stahlkontor in Krefeld could process the sheets on the hot-strip line,” recounts Sohrab. “Cutting to length was very demanding for us,” explains Andreas Beil, the man in charge. “The new property – particularly tough, yet wear-resistant – required many changes to the manufacturing parameters.” It was the only way to attain a consistent level of quality while producing a steel that was ready for production.
“In particular, our risk was having the JADU-H1 be too brittle. The market is unforgiving,” explains Jäkel. All efforts, from the manufacture of the molten metal to cutting to length of the finished material, were carried out together until a solution was found. The Jäkel brothers pointed out that this is not always a given. They genuinely admired how a large steel company could dedicate time and effort to a special request from a specialized business and drive innovation in the process.
Together, they managed to do the impossible by developing JADU-H1: an affordable specialty steel. 30,000 blades have been sold this year, and customers have given “very positive” feedback after completing the first harvest of the season, according to the Jäkel brothers. This successful venture makes spirits soar high: “We want to further optimize and expand our newly patented steel,” boast Frank and Udo Jäkel. That’s why the ‘H’ in the product’s name is followed by a ‘1.’
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