"Only those who know the past, have a future"
– Alexander von Humboldt
A lot has happened since watchmaker Hans Schmidbauer set up the precision machine factory Elma in 1948.
While the company has retained its name Elma – short for "electric machines" – until today, the small watchmaking company has changed into an internationally active and very successful family-run business.
Read on to learn more about Elma's history.
Founding Years and Company Development (1948 – 1965)
The watchmaker Hans Schmidbauer founds the Präzisionsmaschinenfabrik Elma (short for “electrical machines”). The first Elma product is developed under the name Super Elite. It will become the world's best-selling watch cleaning machine.
Elma becomes an internationally renowned organisation. The product range now includes 5 devices which are sold throughout Europe and in some overseas countries.
The first two fully automatic watch cleaning machines are produced. The Junior and Senior models quickly become the epitome of efficient watch cleaning.
By developing and patenting the universal engraving machine Elmagrav, Elma creates a new focus in its product range. Elma devices are now available in 60 countries across 5 continents.
New Markets and Technologies (1965 – 1983)
The first ultrasonic cleaning devices with tube generators are designed and manufactured, opening up new cleaning methods and sales opportunities in the jewellery, dental, optical and laboratory sectors.
Elma continues to grow in line with its product success: inauguration of the new administrative building on Kolpingstrasse in Singen. This year also sees the creation of yet another best-selling product:
The Vacmatic is the next step in fully-automated watch cleaning machines.
The Watch Research Institute of the Soviet Union awards Elma a gold medal for the technical design of the Vacmatic watch cleaning machine. The medal is presented during the international trade fair Inchasmach in Moscow.
Founder Hans Schmidbauer turns management over to the second generation, his son Manfred H. Schmidbauer.
With Transsonic, the latest in ultrasonic devices, Elma secures its technical advantage.
Expansion of Production Facilities and Production Optimization (1983 – 2009)
A new production hall with focus on the development and manufacture of cleaning chemicals is built in Mühlhausen.
Another new building is added: A new production facility for devices and cleaning systems is built on 4000 sqm on Gottlieb-Daimler-Strasse in the industrial area of Singen.
Elma receives its first certification for DIN EN ISO 9001:1994. This is the foundation for the verifiable standardization of quality management.
As part of the continuous improvement process, the Kanban production system is introduced for series production to meet the growing demands of production and inventory management.
The best-selling series Elmasonic E, S and P are launched and meet strong demand in many industries and markets. The ultrasonic devices in this series can carry out a variety of cleaning tasks in a user-friendly manner thanks to intelligent integrated features.
Elma's entry to the medical/hygiene market brings with it more stringent requirements in terms of product safety and warranty, which is why the Elma quality management system now includes DIN EN ISO 13485:2003 certification for the manufacture of medical devices.
Innovations (2009 - heute)
With the highly successful introduction of the Kanban production system, Elma sets an example for best practices, and the company is awarded the TOP Innovation Award by the German Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology.
The Elmasolvex series is the latest watch cleaning machine and comes in three versions. The explosion-proof Elmasolvex VA is unique in the industry.
This year also marks the commencement of the construction of the largest building in the company's history. The production centre was completed in 1991, and is now extended to include a hall and a five-storey administration building to become the company's future headquarters.