"The pressure to bring our prices down presents us with a challenge, but one that drives us to improve our operations year on year. We focus on having first-class production quality, because we actually find that our customers are willing to pay a little more for our products."
Can we start off with an introduction to the company and its aerospace operations in the aerospace industry?
DBC has been working in machining, bar turning and precision mechanics in the aeronautics, automotive, hydraulics and medical sectors since 1956. We were a relatively small company until 1994, and since then have grown to a staff of 120 and a turnover of €18 million. We have a wide range of technologies at our disposal, with single and multi-spindle cam-controlled lathes, and our wide range of technology sets us apart from around 500 competitors within France.
Our main customer is Crouzet, and last year we were awarded their best equipment supplier award.
The Groupement des Industries Françaises Aéronautiques et Spatiales (GIFAS) launched a nationwide program four years ago with the aim of improving the supply chain in the aeronautic industry, whereby leading companies chose six of their main suppliers and worked with them to improve their processes and increase their production activity. After participating in this program, we are in a particularly strong position to serve the aerospace industry in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.
You invest a minimum of 10% of your revenue into your machine fleet every year. How has it involved in recent years - have you been incorporating more of Industry 4.0 into your processes?
The incorporation of ‘Industry 4.0’ in and of itself is not a driving factor at DBC. Companies across the value chain are talking about it and focusing on it as a main goal, but we believe that, upon examination, ‘Industry 4.0’ as a blanket term is misleading. Just because a piece of equipment might be classified as ‘Industry 4.0’ does not mean that it is going to translate into improved efficiency, a reduction in cost or an increase in production capacity.
We favor sourcing equipment of the highest possible standard, particularly from German and Swiss manufacturers. Our machinery is high quality and high-tech: we have computers everywhere in our factories, and all of our machinery is wi-fi connected and has pre-set setting capabilities to ensure maximum efficiency.
How are you coping with the pressure to bring your prices down?
The pressure to bring our prices down presents us with a challenge, but one that drives us to improve our operations year on year. We focus on having first-class production quality, because we actually find that our customers are willing to pay a little more for our products. We work on factors like our on-time delivery record in order to ensure that we have a great reputation to set us apart from our competitors and to encourage repeat business.
Do you have the capacity to meet the increased demand of the production ramp-up?
As we have doubled our turnover in the last five years, we were able to heavily reinvest in the company, and we are working on increasing our production capacity by building an additional 2500 square meters of production space. The site will be completed in the July of this year.
How do you find recruiting qualified staff within the region?
Finding enough qualified staff is a major issue for us. We are striving every day to find people to work with us and, although we are offering very high salaries, it is a struggle.
We need schools to teach children the right skills and also to educate them about the possibilities of careers within the aerospace industry. The capacity of students that universities and technical colleges can take for courses relevant to the aerospace industry is not high enough; the correct programs are there that offer routes into the industry, but the numbers are not high enough. The industry is not attractive enough for young people, and particularly the industrial locations that many aerospace businesses are based in are unattractive to young people who prefer to be based in cities. It is a real problem for us, and one that we cannot solve alone. The aerospace industry right now is thriving and dynamic; we need to get this message out!
Do you have a final message for the readers of our report about your strategy for the coming years?
We are going to keep on learning and innovating because it is part of our DNA. We will continue to adapt our technology and our offering to the aerospace industry in order to meet the changing needs of the market. We will continue to remain always a little ahead of the curve and work to ensure delivery best practices.
We are looking to maintain our client base within France, and have no plans to expand abroad.