Working from home
On 23 March 1973, Bart van Ruth and Jan Janssen, two ambitious engineers who worked for the machine manufacturer Haton, start a machine design office together: United Designers. Unisign for short. Initially, they work from a small room at home.
In the early years, Bart and Jan carry out engineering work for customers. They have not started making machines yet. They move from the home office to a room in the Old Town Hall and then to the Kerkstraat in Panningen. The first employees join the company.
A big step. Besides designing machines, Unisign starts to manufacture and assemble machines itself. We set up a workshop in a small unit in Panningen’s industrial estate.
First steps in machining
The two founders decide to go their separate ways. Unisign remains in the same building and takes the first steps in machining as mechanical engineering firm. At the Technishow in Utrecht, we introduce our first own machine: a CNC drill. A ground-breaking vertical, fixed-bed machine with moving column. At the trade fair, Bart meets a rep from the German company BAUTZ.
Success in the German market
Meeting the German agent proves decisive for Unisign’s breakthrough in the machining market.
Following the first orders in Germany, sales in German-speaking countries take off. From now on, Unisign focuses entirely on machines for machining.
First gantry machine
The production programme is expanded. Besides drills, we start making machines for milling as well as drilling. The gantry machine is born. We can now process larger products from all five sides. This enables us to tap into new markets.
Worldwide expansion - local presence
We start exporting to other European countries besides Germany. We grow into a global player, and supply and install our CNC machines all over the world. With a dedicated network or agents, we ensure a ‘local presence’ and have considerable knowledge of local markets. We start holding regular dealer meetings for knowledge transfer in Panningen.
Since the start of our company, innovation has been central. One example is developing our UNICOM range: flexible production systems with a pallet changer for milling, drilling and turning.
Enthusiasm and commitment
Our employees are dedicated and are devoted to technology and mechanical engineering. They are always looking for the best solution for our customers. But there’s time for relaxation too. Our staff association is very active and organises fun trips and sporting activities every year.
From father to son
In the year Unisign celebrates its 35th anniversary, managing director Bart van Ruth officially hands over to his son Paul. During the fitting anniversary celebrations, we give Bart the send-off he deserves.
Like his father, Paul is a technician at heart. He began working at Unisign in his spare time when he was 16. And after graduating, he gained experience in various positions.
Unisign Technology Centre
Another milestone. We move into a new production hall. This Unisign Technology Centre is impressive: 70 x 70 m and 13 m high. It houses our own machines, Unisign’s superpower. Machining on our own machines increases our knowledge considerably. We officially open the Technology Centre during our spectacular 40th anniversary celebrations.
Market leader in truck axles
When you see a lorry, the chances are the front axle was made on a Unisign machine. Our innovative UNITWIN machines make us the worldwide market leader for this application. Each year, about 1.5 million front axles for trucks come from these machines.
Proud of Unisign
During our 45th anniversary celebrations, we proudly show family and friends round our premises. The many visitors discover our exciting world of mechanical engineering and machining.
R&D department opens
Innovation plays an increasingly important role. We start our own Research & Development department. Our R&D engineers work on developments without a specific customer order. This leads to a revolutionary new machine design for the truck industry, which we unveil in 2021. Our UNIAXLE machine processes rear axles quickly and accurately in a single set-up.
50 years of knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm
Unisign is 50, half a century old. From engineering work in a small attic room to world player in mechanical engineering with all disciplines under one roof. In Panningen we design, develop, manufacture and sell high-tech CNC machines that travel all over the world. Our own experts commission these machines at our customer’s premises and we continue servicing them ourselves. And we continue to do all this with the great enthusiasm we have always had.