Franke: Between handwork and digitalization


Special bearings from Franke cannot be found in any catalogue. Adapted to the requirements of the customers, technical masterpieces for the special are created in the company in the Obere Bahnstraße in Aalen. Super-quiet precision bearings for computer tomographs or luggage scanners as well as ultra-light bearings from the 3D printer or bearings with integrated drive. Franke bearings can be found in medical technology, in knitting machines or in tool changers. They assemble printed circuit boards at top speed or turn thousands of huge solar panels to follow the path of the sun. They are manufactured in diameters from 60 to 2000 mm – and have been for 70 years. The Franke brand has a good reputation on the scene – both as a bearing manufacturer and as a development partner for innovative solutions. The nucleus of a small workshop with a handful of people has grown into a modern industrial company with 270 employees. The manageable initial customer base grew into a global sales market with representatives and partners in all important markets worldwide.


Many things have changed over the years at Franke – some things are still the same as they were at the beginning. Finding the right mix between tradition and modernity is the biggest challenge for management and staff. This balancing act is most evident in the manufacture of wire-race bearings. Steel wire races, which serve as raceways for balls and rollers, are the heart of every Franke bearing. They absorb the loads and ensure the outstanding running characteristics of Franke bearings, regardless of the shape and material of the continuing construction. They are manufactured using traditional methods and require a high degree of experience and skill.


The situation is different with the housing rings of the bearings. They are manufactured on modern, programmable processing machines and are produced both individually and in large series. Spatial thinking, solid training as a skilled worker and responsible, precise work are the main requirements for the employees here. Within the scope of digitalisation, monitors have been introduced at the workstations. Here drawing data can be compared with machine parameters or individual process steps can be called up.
The terminals also provide access to the Franke-Wiki, Franke’s internal knowledge database. It is one of currently eight ongoing projects for digitization within the company. The digitalization of processes and procedures is probably the greatest challenge for modern companies at present. According to a study by the Federal Ministry of Economics, the degree of digitization varies greatly in the various business areas. IT companies, financial and insurance service providers as well as retail lead the ranking. The health care sector is at the bottom of the list. The best industrial sector is mechanical engineering, ahead of vehicle construction and the energy industry. (Source: Monitoring Report Economy DIGITAL 2018, ed. BMWi)

For Franke, digitization means changes in the way we work and communicate internally and externally. The company focuses on the requirements and needs of the target groups. Current digitization projects at Franke are:
– Paperless processes
– Franke WIKI Database
– Online applications (BITE career pool)
– Further education management (PERVIEW)
– Franke Messenger
– Marketing Automation (Evalanche)
– Franke Sales App for the field service (SHOWPAD)
– Networking of machines (IoT)


The demands on modern industrial companies in global competition will continue to increase. Being open to new trends while preserving traditions can be a key to success.


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