Security meets aesthetics
Family-owned company Sommer, from Döhlau in the Hof district of Franconia, has developed its own profile systems for the production of aluminium facades and steel structures. Almost always featured in windows and doors: Roto hardware technology.
More than 130 years ago, Eduard Sommer founded a metalworking shop in Hof, which the generations after him would transform into a successful metal and steel construction company of national and international renown. Today, it is active in facade construction, building security, high-security technology and hazard prevention. The company manufactures project-specific facades, building elements and security systems from a variety of components that it designs and manufactures itself.
Scope for innovations
With more than 465 members of staff, Sommer covers the entire value chain from product development through to preassembly of facade elements, for example, at the Döhlau site. Over 60 patents document the inventiveness and passion for innovation which spurs on the family that owns the company. “Perhaps this is why Roto is such a good match for us,” grins Oliver Sommer.
“A coming together of inventors.”
Oliver Sommer and his sister Iris Sommer-Pechstein have managed the family-owned company since 2002. From the very beginning, their aim was nothing less than internationalisation. Subsidiaries have been founded in the United Kingdom, France and the USA, while successful sales cooperation was set up in Russia. Among customers, there is a clear demand for the “Made in Germany” product quality that Sommer represents.
Making the impossible possible
In the facade design business area, the aim was nothing less than to “make the impossible possible”. The around 100 specialist planners at the company excel in producing even highly complex shapes using the Sokaltherm® aluminium profile system, supported by 20 engineers and structural specialists. “Roto is involved in designing the individually tailored windows and doors.” And the partner’s hardware was also used to construct steel doors.
More than 1000 jointly developed Roto hardware configurations are stored in the databases at Sommer. “And quite a large number of them can now be found in the Roto standard range,” reports Heiko Straub, Head of the Roto Aluvision Object Business. He has been coordinating the cooperation for four years. Many architects who ask Sommer for facades or building elements will go on to use specially developed designs multiple times. This gener- ates publicity and increases the demand for specific hardware.
Tall and narrow
“For example, ventilation flaps are a topic that we picked up on very early,” adds Oliver Sommer. “In high-rise buildings, they ensure natural ventilation of rooms in cases where windows cannot be opened freely for safety reasons.” But especially when constructing tall, very narrow sashes, the design of the hardware is crucially important for functioning and durability.
“We found the solution with Roto.”
Sommer still generates two thirds of its company turnover through projects involving Roto hardware. This is why they maintain a close partnership for development and testing.
The businessman is certain: “In the same way that tyres and drive technology for the family car of tomorrow are developed and tested in car racing, our hardware experts use Roto solutions that often gain widespread traction on the market after just a short time.“
Constantly increasing weights
For years now, Sommer has required hinges for sashes with heavy glazing far more often than other window manufacturers. “Windows with bullet-proof glazing result in high weights, just like triple-glazed sound insulation elements,” explains Oliver Sommer. His team and Roto have therefore concentrated on meeting this requirement. “Nowadays, a hinge side for sashes up to 200 kg as standard is used by many window manufacturers, but this development is by no means finished.” Oliver Sommer now expects to see a large number of sashes weighing up to 300 kg in the industry given the increasingly stringent sound insulation requirements.
Sustainable construction and refurbishment
The entrepreneur is optimistic about the future of aluminium window construction, including in the market for standard building elements: “Sustainable construction has become an important issue in most of our sales markets. And for this, you need windows and doors that can be dismantled into their separate materials during demolition. With our products, this is not a problem; what’s more, our industry is much more advanced than others when it comes to recycling, for example of aluminium.“
Oliver Sommer believes that the only thing that could slow down the industry’s positive development could be long-lasting procurement problems. This is why a supplier like Roto is an important support, as its delivery ability and adherence to delivery deadlines, more than anything else, are “really decent”. No matter how difficult the future might be, the family-owned company will do everything in its power to improve its adaptability and performance.
As part of the “Sommer agile” project, the company is working on digitising its processes. “I dare say that medium-sized companies have huge potential for increasing their efficiency through digitalisation.” Is there the potential to collaborate with partners outside the company? “Definitely,” agrees Sommer. “For me, it’s a certainty that we will work closely with Roto when optimising processes too.”