The Changing Face of the Supplier Industry
Climate change, automation, the coronavirus, the US election – 2020 was fraught with challenges for the German economy that will continue to impact the industry in the years to come. VINCORION Insights spoke with market experts about the trends and opportunities.
Whether in the air, on land, or at sea, 2020 was not an easy year for the products and solutions offered by the German and international supplier industry. And at the same time, tremendous opportunities for new processes and solutions have emerged. Whether in their supply chains, in production, or with respect to the way they interact with customers, very few companies and markets were prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Multimedia Online Showroom for Customers and Partners
“The business environment has changed forever,” sums up Thomas Paustian, head of the Customer Support business unit at VINCORION. By the spring of 2020 at the very latest, it was clear that flexibility, agility, and a pragmatic approach were must-haves for the entire materials management sector and ultimately for the manufacturing industry as well. The coronavirus significantly accelerated the digitization of work processes and customer relations activities across national borders and entire continents. “With our virtual acceptance test and our VINCORION online showroom, we’ve implemented new processes and tools that allow us to reliably support our customers, even in the era of COVID-19,” explains Philippe Euzennat, head of the Power Systems BU.
VINCORION invested heavily in 2020 in order to keep up with the times and respond to changes with flexibility and agility. For example, the company developed its own state-of-the-art PCB assembly line in order to meet the enormous demand for power electronics even more efficiently in-house. Establishing manufacturing execution systems (MES) throughout the entire process chain, from development to production to customer support, will continue to keep the mechatronics specialist busy in 2021. This is a process that, above all else, benefits the company’s customers.
Climate Change Impacts the Defense Market
One of component supplier VINCORION’s long-standing partners and customers is the German armed forces, which celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2020. Power supply and predictive maintenance are topics just as relevant to it as to the entire defense market. After all, even if the CO2 emissions from military equipment are negligible compared to the overall carbon footprint: “Combating climate change is important in the military as well,” explains Astrid Biesterfeldt, head of the Energy & Drive business unit. This is why hybrid power systems, hydrogen technology, and fuel cells also play a key role in VINCORION’s research and development activities. “Our expertise can be put to excellent use here, for example when it comes to field camps.
But hybrid power solutions will also dominate the military vehicle sector in the coming years, for example in combination with a Powerpack powered by diesel or, in the future, also synthetic fuel.”
In addition to power management, VINCORION also continues to focus on drive and stabilization technology in the military sector – while always keeping an eye on shifting, global deployment scenarios. Mobility and flexibility are guaranteed with the modular solutions that the mechatronics specialists in Altenstadt, Wedel, and Essen develop and manufacture, which are always designed with an eye to the entire product as well as life cycle. But even if all the technological requirements have been met, in many respects it is the politicians who will ultimately be the deciding factor: “We are not only competing with the world economically, but also strategically,” emphasizes VINCORION Managing Director Dr. Stefan Stenzel. “Major German and European projects such as TLVS or FCAS are driving innovation and are a significant contribution to NATO. Our supplier industry has all the competencies ready and waiting, but it needs a clear political signal in support of the pending major procurement programs.”
From the Product to Maintenance, Modularity Creates Efficiency
While VINCORION successfully develops state-of-the-art, tailor-made, rapid solutions for the specific requirements of customers around the world, another of the company’s competencies is also crucial: long-term obsolescence management and module overhaul, particularly in the military sector. “Our customer support technicians are experts in maintaining nearly all of our platforms and systems so that they will continue to operate reliably and durably for the next 30 years,” explains Thomas Paustian. Similar to the design of products and solutions, modular processes are increasingly being used in customer support as well. This makes maintenance even more efficient for customers in the defense, civil aviation, and railway industries.
Security, flexibility, durability, and sustainability will continue to dominate the defense, rail technology, and aerospace markets in 2021 and beyond. “With the knowledge and skills gained over 60 years and our dedicated engineers, we look forward to playing a leading role in shaping these trends,” says Dr. Stenzel.