A sharper vision for papermaking
“Papermaking. Next Level” will rely on the precise networking of know-how, processes and communication between machines. Bertram Staudenmaier, CEO of Voith Paper, explains why.
Mr. Staudenmaier, what does “Papermaking. Next Level” mean to you?
Bertram Staudenmaier: Essentially, it is about being smarter, more networked, more sustainable, as well as more profitable in this increasingly digitized age. Our cutting-edge know-how, broad experience and technological leadership are shaping the future of papermaking, taking it to the next level. To secure our position and further development, we are continuously refining our processes to achieve a level that is flawless. We have a clearly defined approach for the near future and beyond.
Most importantly, our strong position is supported by our regional experts. We are close to our customers and support them with a comprehensive approach, offering intelligently coordinated solutions from one source, for all paper grades and over the complete life cycle. This true customer orientation is the real focus of everything that we do. With Voith as a partner, paper manufacturers can already prepare for the future today, and we will guide and support them to attain the next level of paper manufacturing.
How important is the client relationship?
Our vision for customer relations is to be focused on long-term partnerships based on mutual trust and respect. By favoring the long view and remaining loyal to our customers, we are able to meet new challenges together. As a full-line supplier, we are in a position to provide professional advice across the complete production process, and to use our capabilities to develop solutions that create added value for all paper manufacturers.
In the long run, this is the way to guarantee success for us both, for our customers and for us.
And in the area of services?
This is where we excel. Our portfolio of services is what connects the new machines, consumables and after-market business. Today, services already account for 60% of our business, while a third of our turnover is still generated by projects and new installations. This business will remain at our core, as the installed base provides the basis of our services for customers.
How do you meet customer expectations?
The technological knowledge acquired over the past 150 years at Voith is fully exploited to support our customers. They need trustworthy suppliers that act as consultants and enablers, and that deliver reliable, fully developed technologies to produce all qualities of paper as flexibly as possible in the most cost-effective way. With our new XcelLine paper machines, for example, we guarantee our customers a fast and easy start-up, pioneering technologies and fewer downtimes through an optimized interplay of all components over the entire life cycle of the whole machine.
What role does digital play?
A decisive one. The fourth industrial revolution is fully underway. Innovative technologies are connecting people, physical equipment and automation systems with the digital world.
We are continuously working on new Papermaking 4.0 solutions to improve efficiency, productivity and quality of the entire paper production process supply chain. By focusing on connected, smart solutions and processes, we are providing a clear added value for our customers.
For instance, our new OnCare AR features an assistance augmented reality module with video monitoring. Using augmented reality in this way significantly simplifies preventive maintenance and overhauls, for example, and also contributes to the streamlining of daily routine operations in paper mills. In 2017, our goal is to expand our range of digital applications. For this purpose, we created the new Voith Digital Solutions Group Division which brings together all our research, products and pioneering developments in the fields of IT, automation, software and sensor technology.
Could you give us some examples of forward-looking projects?
A major challenge for our customers is the quality of recovered paper. To support them we are continuously improving established solutions and working on Papermaking 4.0, as well as new technologies. For instance, in March 2017, we launched merQbiz, the first digital marketplace for recovered paper. Voith Paper is also helping to develop a radically new, sustainable and feasible pulping technology as a member of the EU research project Provides.
In terms of resource consumption, the reduction of energy demand is a crucial topic. What if, for example, we could reduce energy costs by 25%? It is possible with step-by-step improvements, and also by launching major new approaches.
After 13 years at Voith, I will be stepping down from my role as CEO at the end of 2017. It has been a demanding but rewarding and fulfilling period in my career. During my time at the company, the paper industry has experienced challenging and volatile times, but thanks to the skill, dedication and foresight of the whole management team, together we have built a company that is now in a strong position to meet the challenges of the future. I am proud of this legacy.
It remains for me to wish the company, my colleagues and our customers the very best for the future. I have every confidence that my successor, Andreas Endters, has the experience, passion, authority and expertise to drive the paper industry forward. Voith will continue to strive to find new ways for our customers to thrive, and not just to survive. The focus will remain on the next level.