Seventy-five years of DESMA innovation
In this anniversary year, we take a brief look back at the history and achievements of this well-known name within today’s shoe industry.
Germany-based footwear machine producer DESMA is celebrating a notable achievement year – its 75th anniversary. The company was founded by Herbert Ludwig in June 1946 as Deutsche Schuhmaschinen & Co UE Ludwig KG, manufacturing equipment under the ‘DESCO’ brand.
During the next decade, the company developed a vulcanising press that was to revolutionise shoe production. This joined the sole and the upper in just a few minutes and thus paved the way for the pioneering process of direct soling. In 1953, the brand name was changed to ‘DESMA’. The company continued to optimise the process over the years that followed and, in 1959, the first direct soling machine for pasty polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was designed, to be soon joined by a machine that used granules.
In 1960, DESMA developed further processes in the fields of rubber injection and foaming technology and by 1970, the company had become a market leader in shoe machinery and moulds, especially due to its advanced Polyurethane (PU)-PVC technologies. During the 1980s, DESMA introduced robots to assist the production processes. According to a company spokesperson, machine and robot were integrated into a network long before anyone had even begun to think about ‘Industry 4.0’. So far, DESMA has ‘upgraded’ more than 1,500 robots with the software and tools needed to meet the demands of the footwear manufacturing industry.
The tasks which began with manually-operated machines are now performed by complex, highly automated rotary tables with up to 36 different work stations. The success can be expressed in figures – every tenth pair of the 24 billion pairs of shoes that are sold worldwide every year is reportedly produced by the direct soling process.
Investment and expansion
As part of the company’s 50th anniversary in 1996, DESMA made considerable investment in design technologies and in its mould shop. In addition, advanced machine control concepts and new processes for shoe and sole production were developed.
Stretching overseas in 2003, a ‘Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise’ (‘WFOE’) was established in Guangzhou, China, to specialise in the rapid supply of spare parts and the provision of technical service. In June 2020, a new ‘Factory of the Future’ building was completed on the DESMA premises. This production complex covers 12,000 square metres with three bays and a three-storey building with 4,500 square metres of office space.
Numerous customers now entrust their production to DESMA automation solutions. A key role is played by the company’s Automated Material supply with Integrated Robots system (‘amir’). In addition to automation, DESMA has also developed innovative solutions in response to the megatrend of customisation. New injection techniques and its mould-making shop is said to enable the company to offer a wide range of designs and colours, combinations of highly diverse materials as well as different degrees of hardness and shock absorption.
Sadly, the planned anniversary celebrations were postponed due to the pandemic, but even this cannot remove the shine from so many years of innovation and achievement.
This article was originally published on page 22 of the September 2021 issue of SATRA Bulletin.
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