How a STIHL saw chain is made

What you need for good cutting performance is a high-quality saw chain. Another important factor is how the engine unit, the guide bar and saw chain interact. STIHL manufacturers all of its saw chains itself so it can guarantee that these factors are in perfect harmony. They are made using specially developed machinery in the STIHL factories in Wil and Bronschhofen in Switzerland. Customary Swiss precision ensures that the saw chains are produced to the highest quality standards. A number of processes have to be carried out before a saw chain is ready for action. We took a look at how a saw chain is made, from the raw materials right through to the finished product.

The cold-forming setting machines form the rivet bolts for the saw chains.

The cold-forming setting machines form the rivet bolts for the saw chains.

The rivet bolts are an essential part of the chain. The wire used to make them is delivered on spools. After an incoming goods inspection, the rivet bolts are then cold formed.

The steel strip is fed into the blanking machine.

The steel strip is fed into the blanking machine.

All blanked parts on the saw chain are made from steel strips. Once this steel has passed the quality check, it is approved for production. The cutter, connector and the drive link are blanked from the raw materials in the blanking shop.

A toolmaker checks the blanking tools he is working on.

A toolmaker checks the blanking tools he is working on.

All STIHL employees are responsible for the quality of whatever they produce. Toolmakers, for instance, examine whether the tools deliver the high quality standards that are expected of them.

A close eye is kept on the parts being fed into the hardening furnace.

A close eye is kept on the parts being fed into the hardening furnace.

Hardening the parts in the hardening furnace is just one of the many production steps required to produce perfect parts for STIHL saw chains.

STIHL employees proudly show off the ground cutters.

STIHL employees proudly show off the ground cutters.

The next step after hardening is grinding the parts. Each cutter is ground individually and automatically stored. This takes place on special machinery developed in-house at STIHL.

A basket of ground cutters is placed into a washing plant using a hoisting crane.

A basket of ground cutters is placed into a washing plant using a hoisting crane.

The chain’s components are cleaned and preserved several times during the production process. Now they are ready for assembly.

A finished saw chain is prepared for inspection.

A finished saw chain is prepared for inspection.

Quality assurance is a fundamental part of day-to-day work in the chain plant. Individual parts as well as the finished chains are inspected at random.

The chains are carefully placed into the packaging machine.

The chains are carefully placed into the packaging machine.

Some of the chains leave the plant as finished products that have been cut to length, known as loops. The packaging machine ensures that the chains are placed in the boxes correctly.

The chains are stored in and loaded from the logistics department.

The chains are stored in and loaded from the logistics department.

The logistics building, featuring a high-rack storage area, was opened in 2013. The finished chains are stored here in 100-foot rolls.

Technicians in the maintenance department check up on the chain plant’s machinery.

Technicians in the maintenance department check up on the chain plant’s machinery.

With the kind of machinery used in the STIHL chain plant, it’s absolutely essential to have a skilled in-house maintenance team. The maintenance technicians remove any problems and perform maintenance and repairs to the machines.

An employee checks the values on the drainage system.

An employee checks the values on the drainage system.

Environmental protection is a key issue in the STIHL chain plant. Regular investments in wastewater treatment systems in both chain plants are evidence to this. Any heavy metals and other residues are removed from the wastewater in order to meet statutory wastewater regulations.

Around ten young people begin an apprenticeship at the STIHL chain plant every year.

Around ten young people begin an apprenticeship at the STIHL chain plant every year.

A range of apprenticeships are on offer at the chain plant. There is even a separate apprentice workshop on site. This guarantees the plant a reliable supply of highly trained specialists for the future. This is of fundamental importance, as Managing Director Joachim Zappe explains: “Our products enjoy success all over the world and live up to the high quality that STIHL is known for. Every single member of our team makes their own contribution to this – and that is a great source of pride for me.”

Joachim Zappe, Managing Director STIHL Kettenwerk Switzerland

Joachim Zappe, Managing Director STIHL Kettenwerk Switzerland

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