K.S.: This award is very important for us. We were certainly surprised that we were voted into third place. Compared with the other two award winners, we are a small company and not that active internationally. The award shows us that our customers are satisfied with us.
K.S.: Naturally, our priority is service, and in broader terms, the customer. In February last year, we worked out our Rehart values in our team and presented these to the workforce in September. My son Philipp was in charge of this.
P.S.: For us, it was important to clearly define our values, which we actually live out on a day to day basis, for our employees. For us as company managers, both our customers and our employees play a central role. We have also defined this in our corporate values:
Every individual is valuable
The customer comes first
For each other and with each other
A win for everyone
We should like exemplify these values and be a model for our employees.
We are committed to offering our customers the most suitable solution for them. That applies both to wear protection and extruder optimization, our two core businesses in the clay brick and tile industry. We have been active in extruder optimization for around 20 years, have optimized over 300 extruders worldwide and have gained a great deal of experience. And that on almost all makes of extruder on the market in the brick and tile industry. This know-how is, of course, channelled into our new developments.
K.S.: From the first day, with the founding of the company, we have lived out the service concept. We have offered a collect and return service for our customers to be able to quickly return their parts into the production cycle. We have our own two drivers for this. In an emergency, one drives off immediately and we don’t ask: “Are you paying for this?” This has certainly contributed to making us successful in the branch.
K.S.: We have noticed that our customers are very guarded when it comes to monitoring machines and equipment. They don’t want people from outside looking into their machines.
Naturally, as part of an extruder optimization, we measure all the parameters on site, pressure, power consumption, column speed, screw velocity, etc., but only as a snapshot. Then we optimize and record the data again. So, we don’t permanently monitor the extruder.
That isn’t necessary for optimization anyway. Only in two of the 300 optimized extruders have the values not been quite right after.
P.S.: I see that in a similar way. In the clay brick and tile industry, predictive maintenance still has a lot to do with the human factor, The factories often have very experienced employees who know exactly when something needs to be done.
But the shortage of skilled professionals will certainly call for a rethink in our industry. Digitalization and machine monitoring can provide certainty here. I think we shall all have to face this, whether it is in the brickworks and with us in mechanical engineering, too. This issue tends to concern our subsidiary Petersen more, which builds machines.
K.S.: If you are talking about experienced employees, that is also always an issue for sales. Many companies are already experiencing difficulties in finding suitable employees. Here, fortunately, we have very low fluctuation and ensure in the case of change a smooth handover between the employees so that the customer always receives optimum support.
P.S.: We are always being invited to customer seminars, training sessions and hold presentations there to further train employees on site. During commissioning of Petersen machines, we familiarize the customer with any special features and aspects so that he can always operate the machine with the optimum parameters.
K.S.: We are also always inviting customers to Rehart to update them on wear protection. We inform them about possible optimizations and present different wear products with their advantages and disadvantages.
P.S.: The management team have to live out the service concept for the employees. That also means helping out ourselves if needs be. In 2018 I was responsible for a major contract for which we had estimated a delivery time of 17 weeks. But the customer needed the order in five weeks. For our employees, it meant amongst other things Saturday work. Once when we urgently needed parts and no driver was available and I don’t have a licence for a lorry, my father drove with me on Saturday. That is typical of us as a family-run company, that we all pull together and sometimes take on unusual jobs.
K.S.: For us as wear and optimization specialist, after-sales service is the real issue. We supply not only machinery and equipment, but optimize existing extruders. Optimization means the machine delivers the optimum result for every product size.
P.S.: We always try to respond as fast as possible, in the case of plant shutdown, that means straightaway.
K.S.: We once had the case of a spur gear being broken in a press. Then a Petersen employee rebuilt the complete spur gear with replacement parts from the other supplier in just a week.
K.S.: When a customer isn’t satisfied with us, then we take a very proactive approach. We had a case where we were not able to deliver fast enough. I personally drove there and listened to the customer as he told me about the matter, I made a quick decision on site and implemented it, too. Everyone makes a mistake or doesn’t keep a date sometimes. If the customer, however, has the feeling that we are looking after him and not leaving him on his own with the problem and respond immediately, he is usually satisfied.
P.S.: We ask our customers, of course, during our visits. And we often visit our customers. At the last ceramitec, we also conducted a customer survey.
K.S.: In this, 76% of our customers rated us as reliable and were very satisfied with us. Other ratings included high quality with good price-performance ratio as well as efficiency and innovation. 81% of our customers would very probably recommend us to others.
K.S.: Our motto reads “Being closer to the customer”, we shall continue to remain true to that. Our employees are often visiting their customers, in many cases once a month. For us, this close relationship to the customer is very important to respond quickly whenever necessary.
P.S.: On our agenda is also the topic of digitalization. We consider what aids we can use to better support our customers. Perhaps with an app to enable ordering of replacement parts more comfortably? We are already in talks on this.
K.S.: An important aspect for us is to further extend our warehouse to be able to react quickly if needed. That is very important for Petersen, but for Rehart, too.
In 2018, we had a very good year, with the highest sales in the company history. However, our lead times suffered because of this, that won’t happen to us anymore. We therefore produce to stock and will build a new warehouse that will be available for us in the first quarter of 2020.
Up to now, we have used automatic welding machines to weld the screws. Another highlight is the installation of a welding robot. We are working together with a Japanese robot manufacturer. The goal is to use a robot to complete two different processes of deposition welding in one working cycle. The robot will independently change the tool. This process doesn’t exist yet. With our plant in Schnelldorf (Schnelldorfer Maschinenbau GmbH) we have ourselves great know-how in welding technology and want to shorten the handling time. Goals are an improvement in costs, time and quality. In autumn this year, we want to go into operation with it.
The interview was conducted by Zi Editor Anett Fischer.