TOS VARNSDORF a.s., a traditional machine tool maker, grew last year's sales in all major global markets. "Thanks to this, we succeeded in achieving the stated target, ie total unconsolidated sales of CZK 1.7 billion," says Jan Rýdl jr., the statutory director and CEO of the company and adds, "I think that the political and economic factors in this year will not be so positive that we can count on further growth in demand."


The year 2017 did not develop completely to your liking. How did you succeed in 2018? Were you able to meet your planned goals?

Last year actually developed much better than the previous year. This was mainly due to higher demand for machine tools in almost all of our major markets. Our sales have grown not only in the European Union, but also in Russia, China and North America. Thanks to this, we managed to achieve the target set last year, ie total unconsolidated sales of CZK 1.7 billion.


You are a leading manufacturer of machine tools and you are specialized in the production of horizontal milling and boring machines and machining centers. Which your machines are best sold?

Traditionally, the greatest interest is for machines with a spindle diameter of 130 millimeters. Specifically, they are table machines WHN13, WHN130 and WHR13. The plate machines are then machines WRD13, WRD130 and WRD150. I'm also pleased to be able to sell our new WHT110 machining center, which we are adding to this year's WHT130 machining center. In addition to these best-selling machine types, small machines WH10, WHN105 and large WRD170 machining units and a hydrostatic machine on all linear axes marked WRD200H are well sold.


How many machines did you produce last year? Are you planning to bring any news to the market in the near future?

Last year, we produced and sold 122 machines, most of which were WHN13CNC machines. The novelty is the machining center marked WHT130. It is a machine with a retractable mechanically driven spindle with a diameter of 130 millimeters, capable of reaching five thousand revolutions per minute. The machine is designed for the production of parts up to 20 tons. We can deliver automatic tool replacement, including robotic replacement, or automatic replacement of technological accessories and pallets. The TOS Control independent control system, which allows you to collect real-time machine status information, can view machine documentation and drawing documentation of machined parts, IP camera connections, connection to the ERP system, and a host of other features available from of the machine's control panel.

Another new feature is the portal machining center. In the modern history of our company, this is the first time we are going to market a machine other than a horizontal one. We want to extend the spectrum of potential customers, to offer complex machining options for parts measuring one cubic meter and larger.


What are your previous experiences with the incorporation of Industry 4.0 principles?

Personally, I do not see the news and trends of Industry 4.0 as a revolution, but as a necessary evolution. We have been dealing with this issue for a long time, trying to increase the level of automation of our machines. That is why we develop and improve tool exchange systems, machined parts and technological accessories and remote machine diagnostics, complete with the TOS Control application. For the future development of machine tools, integration of additive technologies will be important, offering customers new opportunities.


In September 2018, we were the only Czech company to attend IMTS 2018 in Chicago. How did you succeed?

At IMTS in Chicago, we were the only Czech exhibitor. We exhibited the WHN13 machine, which we managed to sell to the American customer before the show, so the machine went to his factory from the show. The purpose of our participation was not only to present our products to North American customers, but to confirm our new partnership with US representatives, Flint Machine Tools, and Canadian SMS Machine Tools. The interest in our stand was great and many exhibitions with new customers have been negotiated during the exhibition. Because we were the only Czech exhibitor at the show, our consulate paid us a special attention. Czech Consul General Bořek Lizec participated in the opening of our stand and also allowed us to organize a reception in the consulate premises for our customers and representatives. His personal support helped us a lot.


In Kunming, 14 years ago, you founded your first foreign manufacturing company. Is the Chinese market something specific?

The market in China is similar to, for example, the Russian market among so-called "relational" markets. This means that for the good functioning of the market it is necessary to be able to establish a relationship with the customer. Due to a different mentality, culture, and mainly language barriers, it is very difficult for us to make a personal bond with a Chinese counterpart to Europeans. Therefore, it is necessary to engage in business negotiations Chinese colleagues. If you can persuade a Chinese customer to check on the qualities of their products and services, you can count on their long-term benefits. In general, however, the requirements of Chinese customers do not differ from the requirements of other customers, it is always necessary to offer a quality product offering the highest added value at a reasonable price.


What are your goals for this year?

This year, we set goals similar to 2018. I believe that the political and economic factors in this year will not be so positive that we can count on further demand growth. However, if the chances of overcoming sales amount to 1.7 billion CZK, we will certainly try.


Prepared by Lucie Jordanová