“The results are impressive”, interview with Dr. Wolfgang Schmitz, Regional Executive Europe
CCA: Dr. Schmitz, Oerlikon Balzers is generally accepted as leader in surface coating technology. You are present around the world with more than 100 coating centers and offer a wide range of services for coating of tools and components to your customers. Are there any challenges left?
Dr. Wolfgang Schmitz: For years, we worked hard for our market position of today. If you want to offer high quality coatings for different applications, you have to invest in development capabilities and necessary equipment. This comes at a price, particularly at locations such as Liechtenstein and Switzerland. For keeping our market position on base of this cost, we face the continuous challenge of optimization in product performance as well as service quality.
CCA: That sounds exciting. But what is your approach to that?
Dr. Wolfgang Schmitz: For efficiently handling our business complexity in the company, we already successfully carried out several projects, but most often, they focused on single aspects. With the background of a strong Swiss frank (CHF) since the beginning of this year, we decided to look “full scope” at our processes. Therefore, the 360°-analysis gives the best suitable way for identifying systematically any potentials in all corporate divisions.
CCA: So, you want to review the processes. In this case, why is a comprehensive Lean initiative not good enough?
Dr. Wolfgang Schmitz: Potential efficiency gains on the side of the market should be worked on, too. Therefore, we reviewed future focus markets once again and checked strong and weak points in our sales organization. In addition, we reassessed effectiveness and efficiency of our distribution channels. The result is impressive. Now we have a complete guideline: which market is to be served from which location, with which technology and by which organization.
CCA: Sounds good. What about the cost?
Dr. Wolfgang Schmitz: Well, here we actually utilized typical Lean methods. We carried out a value stream analysis in production, processes in administration were optimized using Swimlane analysis and Activity Based Analysis. Now, we will use identified potentials to benefit our additionally named focus markets.
CCA: So, altogether an enhancement in added value?
Dr. Wolfgang Schmitz: Yes indeed, it certainly is. The systematic approach was important to us, while looking into detail and actively involving our people in process optimization. This approach was used by CIM Aachen, our partner.
CCA: Where do go from here?
Dr. Wolfgang Schmitz: Currently we work on implementing the created roadmap and we already experience first success. Also, this project and its procedure is our blueprint for further locations. So, this is our next action.
CCA: Dr. Schmitz, thank you very much for your time. We wish success in the following execution to you and your team.
Dr. Wolfgang Schmitz: Thank you!