When openness pays dividends
Cover story . The knowledge of transfluid®: a driver of success for tube machining
The constant drive towards growth and market share, and the struggle over pricing structures and technological benefits are a ripe breeding ground for corporate espionage and plagiarism. Globalisation, the internet and smartphones play a huge role is promoting this growth. Small wonder then that the middle classes are moving heaven and earth to stop others seeing what cards they are holding.
A certain reserve is of course understandable. Knowledge is the most valuable capital of our time – rightfully so – and capital must be protected. However, when it is viewed as capital, knowledge is little different from money – it can only be multiplied by making clever investments. To do so, it is first necessary to open the vault. This is something that we in Schmallenberg understand, in spite of our heavenly earthly surroundings, because transfluid® is committed to transparency. This is how we can profit from knowledge, and use it to create the advances which remain out of the reach of the competition.
The tube specialists not only offer you special products, we see knowledge transfer as being a valuable and central component of our portfolio. This is why we put on special workshops on pipe bending technology for customers. The workshops have two major focuses: “Design“ and “Optimisation of production and increasing quality“. Whether the subject is the adaptation of manufacturing processes, cost-effective design of tube systems, the improvement of throughput rates and the flow of materials, the possibilities and limits of tube machining, or troubleshooting – the transfluid® workshops are always practically oriented and tailored to the needs of the participants. And they are open to all; anyone can use our knowledge transfer to further their own success. The exchange of knowledge between different sectors is also important to transfluid®, as this is the only way to learn what moves other companies.
In order to promote dialog with customers and business partners, and to make it profitable for all, transfluid® invites experts on the exchange of ideas and on the mutual quest for new opportunities to its Innovation Days. Each Innovation Day is dedicated to a particular focus. This framework is used to highlight trends and point up ideas for the future. Exciting discussions are the chance to make valuable contacts are a given.
Without a doubt, the healthy development of this Schmallenberg mechanical engineering firm owes a lot to its openness and transparency. transfluid® has made intelligent investments in knowledge; knowledge which is paying dividends not only for customers, employees and the market as a whole, but particularly for transfluid® itself. We interviewed transfluid® Managing Director Gerd Nöker, who explained to us the factors which are ultimately responsible for bringing about and promoting openness.
t time(s): Mr. Nöker, what does the term corporate openness mean to you?
Gerd Nöker: To me, openness means having a healthy balance between give and take. If someone wants to be open, they have to accept... they have to be prepared not only to embrace new ideas, but also to have the desire to handle them. They must likewise be willing to share the expertise which they gain. We would perhaps also call it constructive dialogue.
t time(s): How can we see this openness at transfluid®?
Gerd Nöker: Corporate openness is an important part of our culture at transfluid®. Our driving force is the development of solutions which take our customers forward. In order to develop solutions, you have to act with openness. I have to be prepared to understand the customer and their world – this demands openness. I also have to be willing to put myself in the customer's place when looking at their problem. Otherwise I won't be able to develop a solution, and I will get no further. Even that requires a certain measure of openness. However, we believe that that is not enough. To us, openness means not only developing solutions, but also relaying what we learn during the process. This certainly differentiates us from other companies. But this is the very driver of our success. We use feedback from customers and from the industry as a learning opportunity, and allowing feedback requires openness from both sides.
t time(s): How do you encourage feedback from customers, and particularly from the industry?
Gerd Nöker: Workshops, events, seminars. By now we are firmly convinced that knowledge is far more valuable than technology. I need knowledge to be able to develop solutions, and I can only obtain such knowledge by exchanging ideas. This is why we spend the whole year on the road, holding workshops and giving talks. This shows the industry where we are at right now, which problems we have solved, and which are still to be overcome together. This is particularly where the exchange of knowledge helps.
t time(s): So by this reckoning, that would make the Innovation Days a knowledge exchange?
Gerd Nöker: Exactly. The event is indeed about new innovations, as the name says. However, as opposed to trade fairs and conferences, we are not necessarily solely concerned with peddling our own innovations, but rather in promoting the exchange of ideas, in order to have discussions with the industry about areas where there is the potential for innovation. Above all, the Innovation Days are intended to inspire people, through their spirit of openness, to work on solutions with a fresh perspective, and to share these different perspectives. So knowledge exchange is a perfect match.