A Sharpened Capacity for Innovation is the Key to Market Success
The pandemic, the transformation in the automotive industry as well as chip shortage are major challenges for the light metal foundry industry. Dirk Seckler, Managing Director of Albert Handtmann Metallgusswerk GmbH & Co. KG is convinced that the next few years will remain challenging and explains which strategies will ensure long-term success for the company.
About Dirk Seckler
The much-cited transformation process has rapidly gained momentum. We believe that the years ahead will be very challenging. As the largest family-run foundry in Europe, the slogan “Ideas for the future” accurately describes what we need to do if we want to continue to operate successfully in the market in future. The past months stand as proof that Handtmann is valued as a reliable partner. This is a solid foundation we can build on to emerge from this process of change stronger than before.
As Managing Director of Handtmann, how do you assess the current situation in the industry and for your company?
Dirk Seckler: The coronavirus crisis and the process of change in the automotive industry continue to dictate our markets. The much-cited transformation process in favour of hybrid, electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles has rapidly gained momentum. In this context, we are seeing a much faster drop in call-off figures for our traditional combustion engines business. In addition, the current chip shortage is further aggravating the sales market for our customers. The increased market uncertainty and coronavirus-related market volatility require us to respond on a daily basis to impacts and changes and to draw the right conclusions. We believe that the years ahead will be very challenging. However, the past months also stand as proof that Handtmann is valued as a reliable partner. This is a solid foundation we can build on to emerge from this process of change stronger than before.
What conclusions do you draw from the tense situation, and what elementary strategy components for a successful future direction are you pursuing at Handtmann?
We need to continuously adapt to the market conditions and prepare the ground for additional orders. If we want to be successful in the market in the future, we need to sharpen our capacity for innovation. For us, this means that we need to continuously develop – especially in the areas of organisation, production and innovation – in close cooperation with our customers. We invest an above-average amount in the training of our employees in order to be able to efficiently apply new and innovative production technologies. The areas of technical development and business development have become increasingly important for us in order to be able to cope with all future types of propulsion. We can also leverage from the synergies within the international Light Metal Casting Group and Handtmann Systems Engineering.
In light of such radical transformation, it is essential to not only sharpen our capacity for innovation, but to also launch new products on the market that let us participate in the transformation process. This capacity for innovation is reflected, for example, in the current Handtmann projects of building a pressure die cast single-piece rear axle carrier, segmented electric motor housings or battery modules and also ready-to-install high-voltage storage units.
Handtmann has won the "SUSTAINABILITY AWARD IN AUTOMOTIVE 2021". How did you manage to stand out from the competition?
Sustainability is a central element of our strategy. Handtmann pursues ambitious goals and we therefore want to significantly reduce energy and water consumption as well as waste along the value chain together with our partners and customers. We have installed the latest, technologically most efficient equipment and an innovative, energy-saving heating and cooling concept at our newly established site in Kechnec, Slovakia. What's more, the plant will be 100 % process wastewater-free. We have built the most technologically advanced foundry in Europe and set new standards in terms of sustainability. Out of a total of 50 contenders from the automotive industry, Handtmann was announced the winner in the “Operations” category with the project “Green Foundry Kechnec – Handtmann sets new standards”. We managed to combine environmental protection with economic efficiency in a single project. We are therefore proud that our efforts have been rewarded with an accolade and that we were able to prevail against notable competition.
To remain successful on the market, companies should always look ahead. How is the corporate strategy and philosophy anchored in the Handtmann slogan "Ideas for the future"?
As the largest family-run foundry in Europe, the slogan “Ideas for the future” accurately describes what we need to do if we want to continue to operate successfully in the market in future. The primary goal must be to secure our future. Especially in the context of such major changes, the focus must be on new competitive products both for the core automotive segment and other sectors. We need to continuously adapt to the market conditions and prepare the ground for a successful future with new ideas. In the aluminum and magnesium casting sector, the Handtmann Light Metal Casting and Systems Engineering divisions are a strategic partner to the automotive industry for drivetrain, chassis and body. As independent companies within the Handtmann Group of Companies, we cast, machine and assemble light metal parts and entire systems. As a cooperation partner, we develop intelligent systems and efficient solutions for the mobility of today and tomorrow. As a full service provider, we support you from the idea to market maturity. Our development and design activities that cover everything from prototypes to overall systems. The results of our intensive cooperation with the top OEMs in the automotive sector play a significant role in their value chain and during strategic planning. With more than 145 years of success behind it, Handtmann has often shown how expertise and plenty of experience can deliver workable solutions to complex challenges, even in difficult market phases. Strategic planning is the way to the future. We transform visions into goals, evaluate ideas, realize projects. Product strategies and problem-solving processes go hand in hand at Handtmann. In addition to our engineering expertise, our complex mechanical processing as well as component and system assembly complement a consistent product strategy. We break new ground. For us, thinking ahead together means efficient mobility made by Handtmann.