During a recent interview with Dr. Detlev Seidel, Managing Director Piller Group, and a regional newspaper. Here are some of the responses to those questions published in the German language newspaper:
Media: The Piller Group is an established player worldwide. But how does an industry giant get through these difficult times?
Dr. Seidel: For us, there were two areas. Firstly, service management and the associated travel management.
Media: Why these areas?
Dr. Seidel: About a third of our staff are employed in the service department. Then last spring almost all outside visits were cancelled. Even within Germany there were travel restrictions. There was a lot of coordination to be done.
Then we had to tackle the different regulations and almost every customer had their own hygiene concepts. Managing that was a huge effort.
Media: How did Piller react to this as an organisation?
Dr. Seidel: We set up a Corona Committee in the company. The works council and the company doctor were involved. In this committee we not only discussed how the restrictions affected the different parts of the company but we were also able to ensure the immediate and consistent implementation of the measures.
Media: How did you restructure the work?
Dr. Seidel: Our employees worked from home wherever it was possible. This was not possible for production workers. Here, we relied on the consistent implementation of the distance rules and compliance with the mask requirement. Our aim was to implement the motto “Nothing protects quite like Piller” in this area as well
Media: Did working from home change anything?
Dr. Seidel: All the informal conversations that used to quickly resolve some issues disappeared. Communication has become more formal because you have to make appointments for video conferences. Above all, we first had to create the infrastructure for it and get thousands of software licences for all the locations.
Media: How has communication changed in the company?
Dr. Seidel: As I said, the works council is represented in the Corona Committee. Because works meetings were no longer possible, we resorted to the tried and tested means of “posting notices” for production. We also had to go on short-time work. But our employees have confirmed to me again and again that they felt well informed and in good hands.
Media: How has communication with the customers changed?
Dr. Seidel: Our service staff were not allowed to go to the customers facilities, and they were not allowed to come to us. We relied on digitalisation and video conferencing. But it was a big effort to provide video transmissions of sufficient quality and care.
Above all, the service also changed. Because our staff was not allowed to travel, our clients had to do some of it themselves. To do this, we made tutorials. Above all, we got more involved in the area of remote maintenance. We implemented many things here faster than planned and set the first parameters in the Corona period.
Media: What will this remain going forward?
Dr. Seidel: Some things will remain in the areas of communication, both internally and externally. Many clients look forward to visiting us again. Other clients respond strongly to the means of video conferences and tutorials. So we’re becoming more diverse here.
Changes in our project work will also remain for the most part. We have also used the time to develop new products. Now we will bring these to the market and soon produce them in large numbers.
Media: As a globally active company, has Piller been particularly affected by the crisis?
Dr. Seidel: Of course, we also had to take a beating. Some of our customers have postponed or even stopped projects.
But we don’t want to complain. There are sectors of the economy that have been hit much harder. Just think of the catering industry or the retail trade. Just one example. Our customers usually travel here for the product acceptance test and spend the night locally. That was no longer possible, which meant losses for the accommodation providers. We have suffered losses, others still have existing problems. That is why we are looking ahead with confidence.
The biggest barriers in the crisis have been overcome: Dr Detlev Seidel is now looking ahead with confidence, and with the entire team behind him.
Piller was founded in Hamburg, Germany in 1909 by engineer Anton Piller. Employing around 1000 people worldwide, Piller is headquartered in Osterode, near Hanover, Germany, with subsidiaries across Europe, America, Asia and Australia. Piller occupies a unique position, being the only company to produce both types of electrically coupled UPS technologies and with kinetic energy storage or battery options. The company also manufactures aircraft ground power units, 50/60Hz frequency converters, static transfer switches and specialist marine generators. With more than 7000 kinetic energy storage devices and over 6000 high power UPS units installed, Piller has more than 300 service personnel taking care of clients across 24 countries. The Piller group is a wholly owned subsidiary of the multi-disciplined global UK engineering and industrial group, Langley Holdings Plc. In 2016, Piller acquired Active Power Inc., the flywheel energy storage specialist.