While uncertainty still looms over the political and economic environment, innovation leader Leuze is demonstrating creativity and is taking the role of a forerunner through the use of "alternating quarantines." Result: the numbers are on track in spite of the pandemic. Short-time work is not currently an issue.
Figure 1: Ulrich Balbach, CEO at Leuze, looks focused into the future.
Leuze, the high-tech company from the Swabian town of Owen/Teck, has demonstrated many times over that it is inventive and innovative when it comes to developing new products, technologies and solutions. This is evident by looking at the number of patents registered: more than 200 in the past ten years alone. Creativity and innovative strength continue to be called for during the corona pandemic: instead of complaining and debating, think ahead, act early on and proactively, take your own path and follow it consistently and confidently. This is how the innovation leader is defying the recession forecasts for the German economy.
"Alternating quarantine" as a recipe for success
The term "alternating quarantine" recently coined by Israeli virologist Dr. Baruch Barzel simply means: working alternately with a rotating shift model. Leuze adopted this concept for its own use already in mid-February and successfully implemented it first at its Asian locations, then systematically at all of its locations around the world. Divided into subteams, employees in both production and logistics as well as the Sensor People in the technical or commercial areas work without encountering one another personally, changing alternately. "Thanks to the discipline required of the employees and the corresponding technical equipment, it is functioning very well," sums up Ulrich Balbach, CEO at Leuze, with satisfaction after what has been 10 weeks. "The situation is being regularly examined and adapted. Country-specific situations, lockdowns as well as government directives will, of course, be taken into account and observed," he explains. In this context, employees in, for example, China, India or even in foreign countries within Europe, worked for a time only from their home office. Business trips were put on hold already at the start of the year as was participation at trade fairs for the protection of our employees. Staff and customer meetings took place only online during this time. Alternatively, customers were offered "virtual trade fairs" and webinars in order to nevertheless inform them of the new Leuze technologies and products. "The new online formats were very well received by our customers. A concept that we are sure to make further use of in the future in addition to our live activities," says a pleased Salvatore Buccheri, Managing Director of the sales company in Germany. The first lockdown relaxations are now occurring in Asia and Germany: effective immediately, customers can again be visited in person provided the required protective measures and hygienic regulations are adhered to.
2019 – another record year
The past business year was once again a record year for Leuze. Contrary to the generally negative economic forecast, this is a very positive result for the company, which continues to expand. 2019 concluded with growth in the mid-single-digit range. "We are, of course, also currently feeling the effects of the corona crisis," says Balbach. "But fortunately, these do not occur at the same time and to the same degree at our locations around the world. These are the advantages of an internationally active global player," he explains. The family-run business produced at full capacity and briefly filled the warehouses in order to continue to make deliveries. The calculation paid off: customers and suppliers received their orders worldwide, nearly all of them without delay. "This is especially important in, for example, laboratory automation or intralogistics, where we make our contribution to sustain system-relevant delivery chains," he proudly adds. The positive numbers allow us to make all investments in global structures as planned. The construction of the new Leuze distribution center in Unterlenningen near the company headquarters is also advancing with great strides. Its completion and commissioning are planned for July. "Unlike many other companies, including many within our industry, we currently see no reason to consider kurzarbeit. On the contrary: skilled and qualified employees are always wanted and needed, especially as Leuze has ambitious goals," reveals Hannes Horlacher, Director Human Resources Global at Leuze. This also applies for the commercial and technical apprenticeship professions and dual degree programs for which the application phase is just getting underway for the 2021 start of training.
Leuze repositions its brand
Innovation leader Leuze oriented the entire company toward a proactive differentiation and focusing policy and clearly defined what innovation means for the company: the technology is to be designed in such a way that a concrete benefit and added value arises for its customers with respect to their specific application. "This, paired with our in-depth application know-how in our focus industries – that is our strength and what differentiates us on the market," explains Balbach. This is also reflected by the new "Leuze" brand: clear, innovative, focused, confident, with the additional "electronic" deliberately omitted. With "Safety at Leuze," Leuze is increasingly placing focus on its large range of products and services in the area of safety at work: "Safety at Leuze" represents a well-matched safety product portfolio, in-depth and many years of experience in safety consulting in the engineering and design of safety solutions as well as a wide selection of safety services for many different types of machines and systems. "Our vision, as a forerunner, is to make our customers successful for the long term in a constantly changing industry. Your success is our motivation. We set new technological standards and develop the innovations of tomorrow both for and together with our customers. Determination and passion for progress and change – that is what characterizes the Sensor People."
Figure 2: A passion for technological progress and change is what characterizes the Sensor People.