Keeping Up with Competition Through Innovation and Efficiency

How can small and medium sized enterprises in Germany keep up with competition despite high employment costs and a lack of resources? Through innovations, efficient processes and the highest quality demands – as 19 Vietnamese managers now know, after their four week-stay at GICON-InTraBiD GmbH in Dresden. The participants of the BMWi’s “Fit for Partnership with Germany” Manager Training Programme became familiar with a variety of examples for this during visits to enterprises in Saxony and other federal states.

The Textile Industry Is an Innovation Pioneer

Hoang Huong Giang is the Sales Manager at the firm Garment 10 Joint Stock Corporation in Hanoi. She was visibly impressed by the innovation in her field in Germany, which was demonstrated by the Executive Scientific Director Dr. Yves-Simon Gloy at the Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI), in Chemnitz. The research, applications and knowledge transfer cover the complete textile supply chain from fibres, to yarns, right through to finished textile products whereby the surfaces and functions, and also the structure of the textile creations are other areas of focus. At the specialist trade fair Texprocess in Frankfurt, Giang saw complementary “new developments in all the different areas of textile and clothing production, including automated cutting and sewing systems, as well as 3D development technology for patterns and first drafts”, she explained, underlining her decision to make more investments in her 12,000 strong business.

Virtual Reality at a Carpentry Firm

A similar approach to keeping up with the competition was described by Robert Jähnen, who works for dieMeisterTischler (theMasterCarpenters) in Wilsdruff, a carpentry firm which is normally characterised by tradition. At this firm, the drafts for construction and material planning through to the work instructions for the CNC-controlled cutting are simulated and produced on the computer, right from the moment the idea is conceptualised. Virtual reality is the magic word which enables the customer to admire their interior design and furnishings, life-size and 3-dimensionally, long before the first cuts have been made for the individual elements. The made-to-measure carpentered furniture produced in this way is in just as much demand for private households as it is for furnishing complete offices for IT firms, administrative buildings and the yachts for the jet-set. Only being a creative and productive service provider is however no longer sufficient for the team which surrounds the firm’s directors, Nico Deutschmann and Mario Schöne. Thanks to Pavel Plus – a flexible and adjustable wooden pavilion module system for individualised garden design – dieMeisterTischler have developed and created their first market-ready, own brand product.

Ideas for Their Own Enterprises

As could be seen in the Vietnamese managers’ closing presentations, they uncovered a multitude of ideas and considerable experience at the enterprises they visited regarding how their own competitive edge can be strengthened. There were plenty of suggestions for changes and improvements in their enterprises back home, the general tenor was: for example in the relatively low number of workers used in fruit farming for comparable areas of land in Saxony compared to Vietnam, in the highly effective barcode-based warehousing system used at DB Schenker in Radeburg and for the Jungheinrich used-machines service in Klipphausen, or in the specialised and therefore competitive niche production of circuit boards rather than mass produced products. And not least, through the close relationships between research and development at university institutions and the medium sized enterprises.

The logistics manager, Tran Quyet Thang, summed up the insights gained by the group in his assessment of the situation that “the small and medium sized enterprises in Germany are familiar with the ways and means to combine tradition, innovation, quality and efficiency” thereby achieving competitive advantages, also internationally.

GICON-InTRaBiD GmbH Dresden