The Group is composed of four companies, three of which are located in Switzerland: Azurea Technologie Horlogere SA, Azurea Microtechnique SA (medical) and Azurea Jauges SA (metrology). The latest entity, Azurea Unipessoal Lda, was created to support Swiss companies and is based in Portugal (Porto). A brief history to remind us that the1st company was founded in 1914 by Célestin Konrad, in Moutier (Switzerland – Bernese Jura). It is originally specialized in the manufacture of watch components. In recent years, the company has created and acquired sites allowing it to develop and diversify under the name of Azurea Holding SA and has been managed, since 1995, by Mr. Daniel Uhlmann.
The key to success ?
This evolution allows the Group to respond in an innovative way, not only to watchmaking demands, but also to those of the medical, dental - implantable, dental and device sectors. The Group is recognized, in its respective sectors of activity, for the high quality of its production of parts and assemblies of great complexity. Investments in high-quality production tools and the involvement of all, especially around Ellistat's APC (Automated Process Control) solution used since 2020, a guarantee of a more efficient management of production. Azurea Unipessoal LDA celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2022 with more than €8 million invested in this Group production unit, which has a total of 30 Tornos CNC turning machine tools.
As Vincent Skrzypczak, CEO of Azurea Unipessoal LDA, explains: "The values put forward by the Group are innovation, independence, respect, ambition and success. The investment choices that are made are technically oriented and dedicated to customers. Within the Group, no sales representatives. The directors of the various entities have historically been in direct contact with customers. » As an example of innovation, he adds: "In the current context, we offer other services to our customers than simply the manufacture of unit components but also more complex assemblies and functions. In addition, we leave a lot of room for young people within the Group, especially from technical apprenticeships and engineering schools, in order to have a real dynamic and also to offer interesting development and career prospects. »
Medical sector : stand out for the quality and complexity of the parts
It was in 2009, through the acquisition of a third-party company, that the Group optimized the distribution of roles of each company and focused on the medical field. While the watchmaking business is concentrated almost than in Switzerland, the medical sector faces an ultra-competitive global market. It is therefore imperative for Azurea to stand out for the complexity and quality of the parts produced.
Azurea Microtechnique SA is ISO 13485 certified and meets customer requirements in terms of traceability and validation of all production processes. Upstream of the production, because of its complexity, an important work of preparation for the realization of the piece is carried out. Azurea is able to offer a prototyping of about 50 parts before launching a production of several thousand parts per year. The production constraints of parts and assemblies are related to the dimensional aspect with tolerances of 5 microns as well as to the aesthetic and functional aspects. The parts produced for the medical sector cover a wide spectrum ranging from parts for surgical robotics, tools for orthopedic surgery to implantable connectors in the brain.
The search for a simple and intuitive solution to meet the requirements of capability
In 2020, to meet the changing requirements of customers in terms of quality and precision of parts, the company is looking for a solution to guarantee the "Azurea quality", which makes its reputation, for parts as well as for assemblies carried out in-house. Indeed, a new trend appears, still anecdotal for the moment, which consists in requiring a capability rather than tolerances in relation to the dimensions to be respected. This means that a production process that drifts is no longer acceptable and that it is necessary to work in "centered side".
The initial project launched in Switzerland consists of the search for software to better manage production and have a follow-up to guarantee said centered ratings. On the recommendations of its service provider Ovale Performance (training, organization), Azurea is interested in the APC software solution developed by the French publisher Ellistat based in Haute-Savoie. The software is recognized as efficient, easy to use and intuitive.
APC is easy to use and intuitive, accessible to unskilled operators. APC is used for quick tuning and production tracking. But Vincent Skrzypczak insists on the fact that it is necessary to have a quality production tool (measuring means, machine tools, etc.) and that the work of preparing the APC program is very important. For example, matching the number of tools and proofreaders, specifying linked dimensions, etc.
60 APC licenses for productivity and " Azurea Quality "
Today, the Azurea Group has 60 APC licenses, one per machine. Vincent Skrzypczak comments: "All you have to do is measure the part, enter the data into APC, which automatically makes all the corrections at once. This makes the work of employees much easier. Before APC, if the drift remained within tolerance, the adjuster had two options : refocus the rating or leave so, within the limit of the acceptable. With APC, the rating is always centered. We achieved our quality target and improved our productivity as the set-up time decreased by around 50% and the company's overall scrap rate by around 30%. »
In addition, in the event of a regular drift on a machine, APC highlights the fact that there is a problem to be solved on the machining process, the risk of missetting made by the operator being completely eliminated with the use of the software. "APC has allowed us to produce the right quality ," adds Vincent Skrzypczak . The software provides capability data. If it is not good, the process must be improved. Conversely, if it is very high, it is necessary to space the controls. For some parts, we went from 6 checks to only 3 per day. In order to go further, namely that the corrections are sent directly to the machine by APC, Azurea is waiting for the unlocking of the OPC-UA option by the machine builder.
Vincent Skrzypczak is also very satisfied with the relationship with the Ellistat team. "The work and exchanges with Ellistat, during the first six months, brought us a lot. Even today, in case of doubt about a part, their support service is very responsive, we get an answer within half a day. Regular updates make it possible to have a tool in constant evolution. The ease of use of the software and the proximity to Ellistat represent a real winning duo. »