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Helle Kinning

Intelligent lifestyle solutions: Häfele Functionality

Author: Helle Kinning, Marketing and distribution support specialist

2nd Jan 2014

Accuride seized the opportunity to have a brief chat with Mr José Lorca at the Häfele Head Office in Nagold, Germany. Mr Lorca is the Head of Product Management.

There’s a lot of talk in the B2B sector about Social Media and how it could be used beneficially – the same as in the B2C market. What is Häfele's take on that matter? Do you use it to communicate with your existing and new clients; how do you keep control of messages across the world and what do you get out of it?

Häfele already started with the "Easy-Link" web-shop in the 90s, which was quite new in those days for the B2B market.

Social Media is a megatrend and of course also offers great potential for Häfele.

We see our profiles in social networks as a way to expand our service and to talk to both new and existing customers.

The Häfele organizations around the world use Social Media and we can listen and react to our customer’s needs wherever they are.

Has Häfele seen any new business opportunities during the recent recession and how have you benefitted?

This has been a difficult time for people.

But those who have some savings would rather invest it in something lasting, something they can use in their everyday life, rather than sit and wait and see what’s going happen.

So they decided to spend their money on a new kitchen installation, for example, or perhaps added an extension to their house

What are the new emerging furniture/house/building trends & designs in Germany? How does Häfele respond to them; do they follow the trends or even create completely new ones? Do they have special research/new product development teams?

The trend for the past four to five years has been to combine various aspects of living space, for example, the kitchen and living room.

There has been a social change - life is more combined if you know what I mean. People work from home so they want to have a practical office that could turn into a living space or a bedroom.

At the same time, space gets more and more expensive. People are moving from villages to towns where space is also limited, so we can offer very smart and compact design solutions for every home. For example, your office desk can be turned into a bed in just a few seconds!

I would definitely say that we create the trends and not just follow them.

The turning point was Interzum 2007 when we started showing our products in lifestyle environments. We built real-life scenarios of a bedroom or kitchen where all the components were cleverly displayed. People came to our stand and found it easy to imagine how it could look in their own homes. We started offering not just a product but intelligent lifestyle solutions. We named it Häfele Functionality.

Häfele has its own product development teams and factories. We celebrate our 90th anniversary this year and have reached a 1 billion Euro turnover worldwide.

What is your favourite innovation from Häfele and why?

Oh, there are so many of them!

I think one of them has to be this office desk that magically turns into a bed, also our new swing up lift fitting ‘Free flap’.

You really need to visit our exhibition stands to see the concepts for yourself. These are all actually very simple and easy-to-install systems - but often the smartest things in life are simple!

Are there any completely new markets opening up that Häfele would like to get involved in?

Definitely Eastern Europe, India, China and Turkey. All these markets are rapidly growing and offering opportunities too good to miss.

So far, I would say our Dialock electronic lock system has opened new markets for us where we weren't involved before.

What is your strategy to protect good quality products like yours from the onslaught of cheap competition from the Far East?

EU legislation, which issues laws for certain quality standards and product life guarantees, supports to maintain quality standards.

But companies need to be savvy and astute. We obviously patent our innovations and invest in development. You always need to stay a few steps ahead of your competition for survival.

Brand name and what it stands for really counts. Customers want to feel safe when they purchase and have trust in the company they are buying from. We are also careful when we select our business partners and suppliers, such as Accuride.

Are there any new laws coming into force that Häfele could take advantage of?

From 1st July, you need to certify that your architectural products are fulfilling the EU standards* and that you follow them.

Manufacturing companies have to make a declaration of performance for the end user, which assures the quality standard.

In your role, what are your aims and objectives for Häfele?

I have been with Häfele for many years now. I enjoy being an innovator and to push innovations. My motivation is to see happy customers and to contribute to better solutions for furniture fittings and architectural hardware. (big smile)

*Construction products regulation EU No. 305/2011.

John Whittlesea

I want to replace the cabinet slides in my wooden drawer

Author: John Whittlesea, Technical support manager

22nd Nov 2013

We are often asked questions about replacing or installing cabinet slides. Most of the queries are about home projects for wooden cabinets or kitchen drawers.

So here are a few tips that we hope will help...

If you want to replace some old slides or upgrade your rollers to ball bearing slides then there some basic things that you need to know:

  1. What load will the drawer need to hold (include the weight of the drawer)
  2. What travel do you want? This is the amount that the drawer will open. Do you need to get right to the back of the drawer or will a 75% opening be OK?
  3. How much side space is available? This is the space between the inside of the cabinet and the drawer. You need to select a slide that will fit correctly in this space. Read more here.
  4. Slide length. We recommend that you use the longest slide that will fit .
  5. Width of drawer. Read more about fitting drawer slides to wide drawers here.

Selecting the right cabinet slide for your project

Once you know the answers to these questions you can go to the Accuride slide selector and work out which slides will be the most suitable.

For example, let’s put some answers in and see if we can work out which cabinet slide to use.

  1. Load – no more than 40kg
  2. Travel – at least 100%
  3. Side space - 13mm
  4. Slide length - 450mm
  5. Drawer width - 400mm

Cabinet slide features – available options

Now consider if you want a disconnect feature, hold-in, a self-closing slide – there are lots of options, so take your time and think about how often you use the drawer and which features will be of real benefit.

Many people now ask for a soft-close drawer. Accuride sells several versions depending on the drawer weight and width. Search for slide ranges with an EC suffix.

Watch our videos to see what these features do:


If in any doubt you can contact your local Accuride distributor or email our Technical Manager with your questions.

Download our slide selection guide pdf

Helle Kinning

Business opportunities – a growing market in India

Author: Helle Kinning, Marketing and distribution support specialist

30th Oct 2013

While a lot of English and Indians were glued to the TV, watching the “Ashes” cricket, Accuride managed to have a brief catch-up with our local Indian distributor VRVS from Hyderabad. Mr V B Manoj gave us a brief update on the exploding market in India.

Mr Manoj, please tell us a brief history of your company; what sectors are you involved in and what products do you sell?

We have 3 divisions; firstly we distribute various electrical components. Secondly we do contract work and thirdly we have an operation and maintenance business. We provide technical services and employ about 500 people but I plan to take the business on a new level and hopefully have around 2000 people working for us.

That is very ambitious! What are the main growth industries and markets in India? Has there been a change in the past 5 years?

I think the current GDP growth is about 6%. The growing industries are power, consumer retail, white goods, infra-structure and housing. But I tell you - in India almost everything is growing! If you don't mind me saying, it is like a "New China" but most of the manufacturing is for the exploding local market and not just for exporting.

That leads me to the next question, that why would foreign companies come to India? Is it just about a cost effective labour?

Yes and no. The labour costs are obviously more attractive than Central Europe but as I said, most of the production is actually for providing the local market needs. The largest age group in India is between 25-40 years, which is obviously the most productive working age, so we have the right kind of people to do the work.

What are the biggest social and cultural differences lets say between India and Western Europe? Any examples?

Networking, networking, networking! Connections are important. I think India is actually extremely conservative. We have lots of manufacturing and are the world’s largest producers of steel.

Another difference is the use of internet which is not used as widely by everybody as in Europe. It is growing, but not everyone has access.

The most important household item in India is… a good old TV! People may be living in the poorest home but they have a TV in the corner. That brings me to the next huge difference between Europe and India - the B2B markets advertise themselves on TV but in Europe it is mainly aimed at the consumer market.

TV has also changed purchasing behaviour and as a result more and more people are using online shopping.

What advice would you, as a local, offer to Westerns companies who are interested in coming to trade in India?

We have a huge market potential and new markets. Why not produce a product for the local market that perhaps doesn’t exist in India yet? That is a great opportunity.

You are such an enthusiastic person, what is your motto in life?

Be good and do good!

VRVS Electrical Solutions Pvt Ltd

Sue Witkowski

Is your home office as comfortable as it should be?

Author: Sue Witkowski, Marketing services manager

15th Oct 2013

You may work from home, have children playing video games, or have a workstation in a spare corner. It is unusual to find a desk and chair that will suit everyone in the family and often laptops or gaming consoles are used while sitting on the sofa.

We all need to be comfortable. I know that if I sit for too long in one position that I get very stiff. If I slouch around on the sofa, I get neck and back ache.

It is obvious that poor posture can cause back problems, but there could be other issues with neck, arms, hands and eyes.

For example, just sitting with pressure on the back of your knees and thighs can restrict blood flow – think about how this affects small children sitting on your office chair with their legs swinging clear of any support.

Sore eyes or headaches can also result from poor positioning of a screen or bad lighting.

When a computer is set up in your work environment it is normally subject to health and safety regulations related to working with Display Screen Equipment (DSE). But how many of us think of this when we buy a PC or laptop for use at home?

Does your home office desk and workstation suit the whole family?

We are not suggesting that the regulations apply to you at home (unless you are employed as a home worker, in which case refer to your own employer’s health and safety policy). But it makes sense to make sure that your family is not at risk when using a PC, laptop or gaming console in the home.

Making the computer comfortable for a 5 year old to use as well as an adult takes some planning.

Here are some suggestions.....

Adjust your chair height so that your feet are flat on the floor. This will keep 90° angles at your ankle, knees, hips and elbows. The arms should hang from the shoulder in a relatively relaxed position allowing the forearm to be nearly horizontal and your wrists in a neutral position. Try and keep your lower back supported, but also shift your position regularly or stand up and move around so you don’t become stiff.

place mouse near to keyboardAlter the height of your chair or desk to get this right. If you don’t have this adjustability, consider using a height adjustable keyboard tray and footrest.

Don’t let your children’s feet dangle in mid-air – use a box or low stool as a footrest.

Place mouse near keyboard. Place it nearby and easy to reach to keep your shoulder and arm relaxed. You may also want to have the option of using the mouse on the either side of the keyboard.

Keep your screen about 600mm away from your face. When seated correctly and looking straight forward you should be looking at the top edge of the monitor surround. (A telephone directory makes a very good screen stand or footrest.)

If your desk is too narrow you can use a keyboard arm or tray to move you away from the screen.

Try to reduce any unwanted glare in the screen by re-positioning the lighting.


You’ve spent all day at work sitting at a computer then you come home and get the laptop out on your lap playing computer gamesor on the coffee table. Or possibly you’re on a business trip and using the laptop in your hotel room.

I bet that wherever you are using a laptop that you are stooping over it with your shoulders hunched and hands cramped together on the keyboard.

Consider investing in a desk and chair. Put your laptop on a stand and use a separate keyboard and mouse. This will help to get the screen to the correct height and place all the components in a much better position for you to use.

If you’re relaxing on a sofa you may find that a laptop table or tray will make you more comfortable.

Video games

Often people play video games with their head pushed forward and shoulders rounded.

If you or your children are spending time playing computer games then it is probably worth while investing in a better chair or lumber or arm supports. There’s plenty of advice around on the web and the cost of these items is nothing compared to the gaming equipment or your family’s health.

Finally, remember that even an ‘ideal’ posture will become uncomfortable if held without variety for long periods.

There’s lots of good advice on the internet about good posture and ergonomic products. You may also wish to refer to the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work for more information.

Images courtesy of Sixninepixels and Stuart Miles at

Helle Kinning

Thinking global, acting local; a business story from Switzerland

Author: Helle Kinning, Marketing and distribution support specialist

30th Sep 2013

Once upon a time, on a very hot summer afternoon, I went to Switzerland to talk to HW-TEC, who look after the industrial market there, and spoke to their new MD, Patrick Nauer and area sales manager & engineer Beat Schwizer.

Please introduce yourselves.

We are a 30 year old family company, privately owned. We are involved in automation, packaging, machinery, medical, automotive, robotics and the automation industry.

How do you decide what companies to work with as partners and what products to sell? Why Accuride?

The companies would need to have the same passion, attitude and product quality as we do. We decided to work with Accuride as we already work with Rollon linear systems and Accuride filled the missing product gaps.

You have an impressive and large Quick Ship programme with slides available from stock, which fits well into our quality range. Short delivery time is and will be more important and will be a key factor for business.

And the people at your company make the difference as well; it would be hard to deal daily with people you don't get on with.

Any particular differences about the Swiss market compared with other EU countries? For example, culture, market sectors, laws?

Yes, we have some different laws in comparison with other EU countries. I would say, in very general terms, that the Swiss market is known for producing very special fine mechanical machinery in very high quality and precision.

For example, everybody has heard about our famous Swiss watches, but we are also known for robotic handling systems for the medical market. I would also say that Switzerland has more engineering companies for the size of the country than anywhere else in Europe.

But what is also different in comparison with England, for example, is that we have 26 cantons (member states of the Federal State) within Switzerland and each one of them has its own constitution, legislature, government and courts. So if you happen to have lots of money, you may consider in which canton to live depending on how much tax you want to pay...

Yes, a lot of people in Europe think you Swiss are all millionaires.

Well (laughing), it’s because we also work very hard and long hours - but people tend to see only the outside glamour, not all the hard work that goes on in the background. But unfortunately we are not all millionaires!

Has the global recession also impacted Swiss business?

Yes, definitely. We need to export - our own country and market are not that large. Some Swiss companies export 90-100% of their production, so when the collapse happened in the EU, we were affected by it.

The EURO became too weak - or the CHF too strong. The result was that Swiss products became over 20% more expensive! The combination of a recession and having expensive products was an extreme situation.

But I don’t think that the recession within Switzerland was too bad. Although I’d say that recovery has taken longer than in Germany. Having your own currency can be both a blessing and a curse.

Are there any opportunities that have come out of the recession?

Because the recession was not so bad within Switzerland, it didn't create so many new opportunities either. Some companies went into the solar and wind turbine industry as a new opportunity. Well, that applies to all trendy renewable energy industries.

The food industry grew as people started cooking more at home and perhaps eating out rather than going on holidays abroad; but I think this happened in other countries as well.

Unemployment is 3.55 percent at the moment, so being a small country can be beneficial.

And we have amazing chocolates as you know, so if life is not looking very happy eating chocolate always helps! (laughing)

How has HW-TEC remained successful during these times?

Our turnover suffered a little as companies were not investing much into new machinery and other products where our goods are installed - but luckily we didn't have to make any redundancies. Everybody within our company can multitask, even the men! (laughing again!) Staff are capable of doing different jobs.

What are your future plans? Do you see any emerging opportunities?

Future plans? Holidays you mean? (even more laughing) We expanded our staff; we have a new MD and a sales manager for the French speaking side of the country, as that is where we want to grow.

We also plan to increase our marketing activities via a new website - allow our clients to download product drawing files, do more mail shots, etc. It is important not to be satisfied, even if your business is doing well, but always look for new opportunities and find new customers.

What are the general growth opportunities in Switzerland?

The renewable energy industry perhaps? Sometimes new EU laws create new demands for the machinery industry and we are, of course, influenced by what is happening in the EU.

What is your strategy to protect good quality products like yours from the cheap competition from the Far East?

Luckily, a lot of Swiss companies prefer to deal with other local companies. A local market can offer good delivery times and, as Swiss products have a reputation for very high quality, you obviously need components within your final product to match that.

Swiss companies also prefer flexibility. If you are dealing with the Far East you can’t always get the specifications you want or the delivery times you need.

How do you develop new relationships with clients in Switzerland and/or Europe - web advertising, exhibitions, mailings, knocking on doors?

We are going to lots of exhibitions to find new customers. If we have luck with one company in an industry, we simply Google to find out who else is in that same industry and might be interested in our products. Sounds simple, but there is no need to make life complicated! We also encourage our staff to read industry related technical magazines and web articles to get ideas.

Patrick, in your new role as MD, what are your aims and direction for HW-tec?

Definitely update our marketing activities. For example the website, newsletters, new server, better support for our staff with updated in-house programmes to allow them to work in a more efficient manner. I want them to be able to serve the clients faster and spend more time dealing with clients in general, rather than wasting time on paperwork.

Are there any successful case studies you would like to share?

Where do we start? Accuride products are sold daily into so many industries, we could write a different blog story just for that.

But I think we are a distributor who not only sells your product but also invents new ones for you. We always pester you with new ideas! (big grin) We worked very closely with you in developing your linear system 0115RC slide which has opened new markets for everybody.

And finally - what is your motto for life?

Beat - Be happy!
Patrick - agree! Positive thinking! Find opportunities in life.

Case studies...

Aluminium slide for access to heavy equipment in train

Accuride’s distribution partner in the Czech Republic, Arcus Engineering, has been working closely with Kolejové pohony, a.s. to provide a viable...

> Read more

Aluminium slide for access to heavy equipment in train

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