When the mid-sized company was founded, it was all about special cooling solutions for computers and monitors. “The name was perfect,” says Marvin Michel. “We were looking for a catchy term for patenting our invention. Because you can’t just trademark a word like ‘cool,’ we simply added another ‘o’ to it – problem solved.”
Today, CooolCase manufactures products for the IT and medical technology sectors, the electronics and automation industry, and the telecommunications and solar power sectors. “When the previous owner announced he was going to shut shop here in 2009, my father decided to take over the business,” says the 27-year-old. Michel Sr. was the Managing Director until 2007 and previously ran his own tool workshop for progressive dies.
His expertise in tool making and metal processing were instrumental to CooolCase’s ongoing success. There are machines for milling, sanding, and stamping, plus two industrial robots for welding and pressing the metal blanks. Across 5,000 square meters of production space at the factory, components are separated, joined, and coated.
Cooperation between steel company and steel service center
CooolCase processes steel – and a lot of it. A large part of the raw materials comes from thyssenkrupp Steel Europe. “We get wide strip steel from Duisburg that we use to make slit strips and custom blanks,” says Rene Thomas from the thyssenkrupp Steel Service Center in Radebeul, Germany. “We process and assemble hot-dip and electrolytically galvanized materials, hot-rolled as well as cold-rolled, and we’re able to accept small runs.”
In order to be usable to manufacture modules and housings for computer and solar applications, the raw materials supplied must meet demanding requirements in terms of quality and precision. “The devil is in the details,” says Achim Peuster, Technical Customer Support at thyssenkrupp Steel Europe.
“What CooolCase needs is not a material that’s been manufactured to standard specifications, but one that specifically accommodates the downstream processing requirements. That’s why we only supply very flat and low-stress coils for panel production in Radebeul, with tightly-controlled thickness tolerances and mechanical properties.”
Tailor-made solutions for schools and police stations
Requirements-based manufacturing is crucial to CooolCase and its customers. Tight deadlines, flexibility, and sometimes very small runs are all part of this. “For example, our special runs include more rugged computer casings with anti-theft and anti-vandalism protection for schools and police stations,” says Marvin Michel. “Special products such as these require very high quality but involve only a small run of a few thousand; that’s something you can’t order from Asian bulk suppliers.”
The proximity and fast response time of the Steel Service Center team members in Radebeul – who can drop off the required raw materials on-site within just a few hours – helps to maintain this competitive advantage. Head of Purchasing Siegmar Uhlemann gets in touch quite regularly. “Looking at the quantities we require, we like to deal with the manufacturer directly. The Steel Service Center is basically one step away from the steel mill itself.”