Digitalization challenges and solutions for mid-size companies was discussed by Uhlmann, a packaging OEM, and Wittenstein, a servo technology specialist. Both companies can be regarded as hidden champions in their respective niches. Uhlmann is the leading packaging OEM for the pharmaceutical industry. Wittenstein is a specialist on high-end and customized servo technology solutions, being it aerospace, oil & gas, or medical applications. Both companies are of comparable size with around 2000 employees.
Uhlmann’s digital concept is strictly oriented towards customer needs, solving real life problems, instead of generating high-level concepts. Still, the company has a clear picture in mind when it comes to digital business, spanning from business models and services over digital products, to digital sales concepts. Examples included using virtual reality as a training accelerator and using augmented reality to speed up maintenance, trouble shooting, and on-site work. Next to speed, this also can increase the quality of the work. The key lies in the integration of machine related information and the MES / ERP system, otherwise the full potential cannot be reached. All this is always related to customer needs.
Wittenstein reported on a challenge we all are facing, the war for talents. Especially, when the requirements now including digital skills, in addition to the traditional skillset. How to persuade talents to work for a mid-size technical company, which is not located in a fancy city? As a participant noted: “We are all fishing in the same pond!”. The company is expanding to new fields, opening offices in Augsburg and Munich, in addition investments have been made for a good working environment at the HQ and production facilities to keep the talents once found. Again, digital services will enable remote access to leverage the experts available. For all this, a set of soft and management skills are needed, which is even more challenging than the technology itself.
The bottom line is striking. Two technology-centric companies, prototypes of German engineering, put the human in the center of their strategy for the next years.