The Group comprises four companies, three of which are based in Switzerland: Azurea Technologie Horlogere SA, Azurea Microtechnique SA (medical) and Azurea Jauges SA (metrology). The last entity, Azurea Unipessoal Lda, was created to support Swiss companies and is based in Portugal (Porto). A brief history to remind us that the 1era he company was founded in 1914 by Célestin Konrad, in Moutier (Switzerland - Bernese Jura). It originally specialized in the manufacture of watch components. In recent years, the company has created and acquired sites enabling it to expand and diversify under the name of Azurea Holding SA, and has been managed since 1995 by Mr. Daniel Uhlmann.
The key to success ?
This development enables the Group to respond innovatively not only to the demands of the watchmaking industry, 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 highly complex parts and assemblies. Investments in high-quality production tools and the involvement of everyone concerned, in particular around Ellistat's APC (Automated Process Control) solution, in use since 2020, guarantee more efficient production management. Azurea Unipessoal LDA celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2022, with over 8 million euros invested in this Group production unit, which boasts a total of 30 Tornos CNC bar-turning machine tools.
As Vincent Skrzypczak, CEO of Azurea Unipessoal LDA, explains: " The Group's core values are innovation, independence, respect, ambition and success. Investment choices are technically oriented and customer-focused. The Group has no sales force. The managers of the various entities are historically in direct contact with customers. " As an example of innovation, he adds : " In today's context, we offer our customers services that go beyond the simple manufacture of single components to include more complex assemblies and functions. In addition, we give a lot of room to young people within the Group, particularly those coming from technical apprenticeships and engineering schools, to create a real dynamic and also to offer interesting career prospects. "
Medical sector stand out for the quality and complexity of their parts
In 2009, through the acquisition of a third-party company, the Group optimized the division of roles between each company and focused on the medical sector. While the watchmaking business is concentrated almost exclusively 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 it produces.
Azurea Microtechnique SA is ISO 13485 certified and meets customer requirements in terms of traceability and validation of all production processes. Upstream of production, due to its complexity, a great deal of work is carried out in preparation for the realization of the part. Azurea is able to offer prototyping of around 50 parts before launching production of several thousand parts per year. Production constraints for parts and assemblies are linked to dimensional aspects, with tolerances of 5 microns, as well as aesthetic and functional aspects. The parts produced for the medical sector cover a wide spectrum, from parts for operating robotics and tools for orthopedic surgery to connectors for brain implants.
The search for a simple, intuitive solution to meet capability requirements
In 2020, in response to changing customer requirements in terms of part quality and precision, the company is looking for a solution to guarantee the "Azurea quality" for which it is renowned, for parts as well as for assemblies produced in-house. Indeed, a new trend is emerging - as yet anecdotal - which consists in demanding capability rather than tolerances in relation to the dimensions to be respected. This means that a drifting production process is no longer acceptable, and that we must work with "centered dimensions".
The initial project, launched in Switzerland, involved the search for a software solution to improve production control and monitoring, in order to guarantee the said centered dimensions. On the recommendation of its service provider Ovale Performance (training, organization), Azurea chose the APC software solution developed by the French publisher Ellistat, based in Haute-Savoie. The software is recognized for its performance, ease of use and intuitive operation.
APC is easy to use and intuitive, accessible to unskilled operators. APC is used for rapid set-up and production monitoring. But Vincent Skrzypczak insists on the need for quality production tools (measuring equipment, machine tools, etc.), and on the importance of preparing the APC program. For example, matching the number of tools to the number of correctors, indicating the dimensions involved, etc.
60 APC licenses for productivity and safety 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 and it automatically makes all the corrections at once. This makes employees' work much easier. Before APC, if the drift remained within tolerance, the setter had two options APC: recenter the dimension or leave it as is, within the limits of acceptability. With APC, the dimension is always centered. We've achieved our quality objective and improved our productivity, since set-up time has fallen by around 50 % and the company's overall scrap rate by around 30 %. "
What's more, in the event of regular drift on a machine, APC highlights the fact that there is a problem to be solved on the machining process, the risk of incorrect setting by the operator being totally eliminated with the use of the software. " APC has enabled 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's very high, we need to space out the checks. For certain parts, we have gone from 6 checks to just 3 a day.. " To go a step further, i.e. to have corrections sent directly to the machine by APC, Azurea is waiting for the machine manufacturer to release the OPC-UA option.
Vincent Skrzypczak is also very satisfied with relations with the Ellistat team. " Working and talking with Ellistat over the first six months was a great help. Even today, if we have any doubts about a part, their support service is very responsive, and we get an answer within half a day. Regular updates ensure that the tool is constantly evolving. The ease of use of the software and the proximity to Ellistat are a real winning combination. "