Innovation – A Step towards the Future
The practicalities of how a medium-sized enterprise implements Industry 4.0 was of interest to 17 managers from Ukraine and Moldova who travelled to Wörth in Bavaria, in February 2019, to visit the company GEWO Feinmechanik GmbH. Founded in 1981 as a sole proprietorship, today the family run firm has more than 360 employees working for it. “It is really impressive how the company grew from a small one, to the size of today. They managed this from their own resources”, stated the Moldovan manager Nadejda Cornetel who was visibly impressed.
GEWO specialises in the manufacturing of complex, elaborate components for the semi-conductor industry and for aerospace, medicine and research. But the firm also produces precision parts for electron microscopes. In 2013 a second factory with a large clean room was brought into action, which in the meantime has been equipped with a fully networked production line. Since 2016 GEWO has been tapping into a new line of business: the production of 3D printers for industrial purposes. Martin Stangl, a sales engineer at GEWO, presented the innovation project and its individual stages of implementation to the managers.
The firm had been looking for a new market niche for quite some time, in order to establish itself in the sector in a forward-thinking way. The management team identified 3D printers as a technology of the future with significant market potential. The target therefore became to produce and roll out the first 3D printer with very high precision for industrial purposes. At the start of the project in 2016, the technology was still very new and other enterprises’ technological advances were not significant. GEWO began with classic market research and at the same time established a team of engineers, designers and programmers. What was also important was to set up a network with other firms such as material manufacturers and producers of filler materials. Stangl emphasised that the project was tackled with absolute conviction and was supported and given a high priority by the company’s management.
The speed with which the project was implemented also stunned the Ukrainian and Moldovan managers: it only took nine months from the start of the project to the sale of the first protype. Since then, the printers have been continuously optimised. Above all, meticulous work is still being carried out on increasing the printing speed and precision.
“I liked the innovation strategy used in the company, oriented on the quality control”, summarises the Moldovan entrepreneur Valeriu Gutu. Furthermore, he is impressed by the benefits which the company offers its employees. In addition to technical innovations, GEWO pays particular attention to the well-being of its employees: from occupational health management through to further education options.