Employees and customers are the family company LEMKEN GmbH & Co. KG’s most important capital. In addition to highly specialized expertise in the processing of steel for use in the manufacture of ploughs, drills and saws, they provide the essential guarantee for the company’s worldwide success. This philosophy was also readily apparent when Indian MP participants visited the company’s plant in the Alps in late April 2015. The participants were greeted personally by the company’s export manager Jens Moska, who directed the company visit, as well as by CEO Viktor Lemken and Anthony van der Ley, managing director, all of whom made the time for a company presentation. This made it especially clear how important the personal presence and availability of company executives to the workers is for leading a family company successfully through its seventh generation and still keeping it in family hands. In particular, the fact that every day the Lemken family sits down to eat with the workers in the canteen and is available for questions amazed the visitors, themselves largely representing family-run businesses.
A subsequent tour of the plant clearly reflected the impression that the visitors had gleaned thus far – and not just because the export manager personally knew so many of the workers. Detailed information about the company and its current order volume and revenues is posted in all areas of the plant for the purpose of keeping the employees up to speed about the successes based on their labour. A continuous quality management system with which the workers can check and record the quality of each individual piece of machinery, also acts to make everyone accountable for the finished agricultural machines. This provides the workers with additional motivation.
But the guests from India were not only interested in staff management methods, they were also very keen to learn more about the production itself. Their tour of the complete production cycle started with the delivery of the steel and the initial quality controls, which make use of a mobile spectral analysis device to assess the quality of incoming steel for production. The company’s facilities for hardening and tempering the steel left quite an impression: The latest robot technology works side-by-side with presses that are nearly a century old, but which still manage to fully satisfy the company’s quality requirements and processing standards despite their age. The modern and fully transparent system for cathode-based bath plating that gives the steel parts both their typical blue colour and protection against corrosion was another source of astonishment. Besides their dimensions, it was the energy efficiency of the facilities that was especially interesting: a heat exchanger is used to recapture much of the energy, and the excess energy can be transferred to other processes for use in heating and cooling. The tour continued with an inspection of the three assembly lines, where the machines are individually assembled by hand. The tour ended at the loading dock for lorries and containers, where the ploughs, drills and saws are prepared for domestic and international shipment. There is no company storeroom for machines because all of the parts are made to order.
Lemken also has a modern plant in India, and the company is currently looking for additional suppliers of light parts of metal and plastic. Some of the MP participants might be potential suppliers or producers, and managing director van der Ley offered the Lemken procurement contact information in India as an additional surprise after the tour had wrapped up.
By Christina Morgenstern
Konsortium trAIDe GmbH, Cologne