What is now a global company with sales of over 500 million euros first started in a small garage in the idyllic town of Lauffen am Neckar. In 1945, the amateur inventor Friedrich Schunk from Swabia opened a mechanical workshop here under the simplest of conditions with a second-hand lathe. With contract work such as spare parts production or machine repair, he created a livelihood for his family – and laid the foundations for the future global player, SCHUNK.
One of Friedrich Schunk's greatest assets was his ability to find a solution to problems of any kind. Even then, the name SCHUNK stood for innovative inventions, such as a lampshade punching machine. Hard-working, helpful and with his own high quality standards, Friedrich Schunk went his own steadfast way.
The leap from craftsman's workshop to manufacturing and industrial company followed in 1964. In the new building, a 300 square meter hall in Lauffen's Bahnhofstrasse, around 3,000 clutch drums and flywheels a month were initially machined for the NSU Prinz 4. A model of the Prinz 4 from this series now stands in the entrance area of the administration building in Lauffen as a reminder of the early days, proving to be a real eye-catcher for our visitors.
The son of the company founder, Heinz-Dieter Schunk, joined his father's company in 1964 at the age of 22, bringing with him a powerful sales drive. By introducing his own product lines, he laid the foundation for Schunk's success.
"Only innovations will move a company forward" – this philosophy of the company founder Friedrich Schunk was actively pursued by Heinz-Dieter Schunk. With the establishment of the chuck jaws for lathe chucks product range, SCHUNK became a partner to the processing industry in the field of workpiece clamping. Placing the highest quality demands on its own products and continuously pursuing further development of the product range, SCHUNK entered a new era.
SCHUNK also set out to become the international technology leader in the field of tool clamping. The development of hydraulic expansion technology and the introduction of the TENDO revolutionized the market. Another milestone was reached with the TRIBOS polygonal clamping technology tool holding system for automated parts machining. For SCHUNK, the future was automation.
In 1982, Heinz-Dieter Schunk had an idea for another business unit after visiting a trade show. He saw the first robots with a gripper, whose weight had made the robot arms quite unstable. It quickly became clear to him that the market needed a lightweight and simple solution. SCHUNK was one of the first manufacturers to develop standardized gripping technology.
Increasing demand in North America made the next stage of internationalization necessary in 1992. Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, becomes the third foreign sales office.
In 1994, SCHUNK acquired Hage GmbH in Mengen, the forerunner of what is today H.D. SCHUNK GmbH & CO KG, and expanded the product portfolio to include the lathe chuck range.
Today, Kristina I. Schunk and Henrik A. Schunk, the grandchildren of the company founder, are leading the family-owned business into the future. They have set SCHUNK the task of making global productions across the entire world more precise, economical and reliable. The customer base includes all the well-known companies in mechanical and plant engineering, robotics, automation, assembly handling and the life science industries.
Automation, digitalization and networking are driving dynamic change. SCHUNK is a part of this evolution and is responding with digital services, smart functions and enhanced applications.
With its innovative CoLab robot application centers, SCHUNK is offering an important building block for planning and implementing industrial automation and robotics tasks. This is particularly beneficial to newcomers in automation across the globe, but experienced automation professionals also stand to gain.
With services and software modules, SCHUNK is making it possible for customers to get started with automation – plug and play, "install and forget" solutions that simply work as they should. Digitalization has made it possible for customers to plan and design their own solutions and processes partially independently. The pioneering spirit of the company's founder and the guiding principle of all three generations – always offering the customer the best – are carrying SCHUNK into the future.