Time is money in contract manufacturing, and lot sizes from 1 to 10,000 make the processes more complex. Patrick Genkinger, production manager at Steinhart Metallwarenfabrik, faces these challenges every day. "We supply a large fitness equipment manufacturer, a tractor manufacturer and the TRUMPF company, but also around 250 medium-sized and small customers," he explains. "Everyone insists on quality, short delivery times and high delivery reliability." The company has therefore relied on comprehensive automation of production from early on. But fast production processes alone are only half the battle. "Fast and uncomplicated service is just as important," says Genkinger. "When service is required, first you have to look for the nameplate to get the machine number, or spend hours poring through catalogues to look for the order number for a spare part – I don't have time for that nowadays."