Insights 2020: Rafael Koenig, Weidmüller Australia
What key trends will have an impact on the growth of your industry in 2020?
From a technological point of view, the ability to securely extract, connect and analyse data in various forms and complexities is a field that has enormous potential for us in the foreseeable future. Digitalisation and data processing are essential parts of Industry 4.0 and Weidmüller has a strategic focus to realise IoT connectivity in industrial scenarios. From sensor to the cloud is a slogan that embraces our goal to provide simple user-friendly connectivity solutions.
Our products and solutions are vital in conventional power generation but also in solar and wind. The main challenges here are the ability to provide front-to-end support for our clients. In the PV segment alone, we have substantial dedicated engineering resources that not only design for our clients but also support commissioning and operation. The booming infrastructure sector demands similar efforts and Weidmüller offers a host of dedicated engineering and assembly services and solutions to meet customers’ expectations.
Last but not least the proximity to our customers is a key differentiator for Weidmüller. To realise a high level of service we continuously focus on the development of our key channel partners. Our collaboration with our national distribution partner APS Industrial (all states) as well as our regional partners Quador (Vic), Pacific Automation (WA), PRTS (NQld), Excell Control (NSW) and Cuthbert Stuart (NZ) is essential to provide the market with our products and solutions when and where they need them.
What is your industry doing to attract, upskill and retain talent?
We are a subsidiary of a German family-owned “Mittelstand” company. Our family character helps us to attract people who fit in while our technology focus demands lifelong learning. Together with our HQ where we operate our internal training organisation, the Weidmüller Academy ensures that our teams are equipped with the knowledge they need in their individual roles. The only effective way in my opinion to retain talent is to provide a work culture that is combining ambition with trust and respect and is challenging for the individual. Ultimately this leads to an enjoyable work environment that is not only fun but also produces high levels of success.
What difficulties has your business faced when implementing advanced manufacturing capabilities?
Helping Australian companies to adopt state-of-the-art technology advanced manufacturing is part of what we do. If you look at Industry 4.0 and digitalisation in general, these fields are growing exponentially in other parts of the globe due to the realisation that they are key to staying competitive. The relative isolation of Australia and the wealth created by its natural resources in the past often did not create the urgency to adopt the latest technologies. As part of a global network of companies within the Weidmüller Group we consistently benchmark our manufacturing operations to our company’s best practices in Germany, Europe and Asia. In addition, we are deeply engaged in collaboration with academia in various countries and disciplines to stay at the forefront of new technology and manufacturing trends. Industry 4.0 is making the production of low quantities (lot size 1) efficient; this in return will not only benefit us but make the local Australian manufacturing industry more attractive and revive the future of our manufacturing sector.
What effect could global economic uncertainty have on your business in 2020?
Being a global company, things that go on around the world certainly will also affect us at Weidmüller. However, we can only worry about things we can influence, and this is where we have decided to get involved in several activities that will hopefully contribute to our business situation here in Australia. We are deeply involved with the German Australian Chamber of commerce and I am a member of the foreign policy advisory committee which currently plays a supporting role in the negotiations for a free trade agreement between the EU and Australia. In addition, we have joined AIG’s Industry 4.0 task force which strives to support the technology adoption process in Australia. With a proud history of almost 50 years in Australia, Weidmüller is a committed member of the Australian electrical engineering community.
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