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Spangenberg, 20 December 2021: — WIKUS is positive about the coming year. Europe's largest manufacturer of band saw blades is confident that the Spangenberg site, headquarters of the internationally active company, will grow sustainably. Nevertheless, issues such as the global economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the steel crisis will remain for the time being. But what specifically moved WIKUS in this business year? What were the challenges and what will WIKUS do in 2022?
Highlights 2021: EMO MILANO and the new bimetal product portfolio
There was great pleasure in the personal exchange with customers and partners at the world's leading trade fair for metalworking EMO in Milan, especially after the long restriction on travel.
A highlight at the EMO was the first-time presentation of the sharpened bimetal product portfolio (Figure 1). The band saw selection in this area was adapted to suit the application and the focus was placed on only one central product in performance level 1 and two solutions in performance level 2. The technologically optimized products include the MARATHON® M42, PROFLEX® M42 (each level 2) and PRIMAR® M42(Level 1), band saw blades, which together cover almost all common applications in the bimetal sector. In addition to the simplified band saw selection, the customer-oriented upgrade offers special added values that are specifically tailored to individual requirements. Usersthus benefit not only from the saw factory's technological innovation leadership, but also from demand-oriented services in the areas of process optimization and technical advice.
The benefits of long-standing partnership and reliable supply chains became apparent when the effects of the strained global economy were felt in the middle of the year. WIKUS compensated for the decline in steel production worldwide and the increase in the price of raw materials, for example, by increasing production capacities and investing in the optimization of manufacturing processes. Thanks to these targeted measures, WIKUS was largely able to cushion the impact of the steel crisis on customers and ensure supply capability. The focus was always on solution- and service-oriented dialog to ensure productivity at customers and further optimize process costs in their production.
In order to position itself as a company with a secure long-term future and to meet customer needs even more effectively, WIKUS has implemented structural measures in sales. New strategic positions have been created, enabling even closer integration of customer support, market-oriented product development and technical consulting. In close cooperation with long-standing partners, dealers and customers, product and service performance will be further improved.
In addition, the newly established Technical Competence Center (TCC) with its international network supports customers in complex technical issues, and the WIkademy® also offers training courses on various topics related to the sawing process.
The new online offer of the WIKUS training center enables all interested parties to attend extensive and location-independent training courses in addition to the face-to-face training courses in order to leverage previously unused efficiency potential in the sawing process and to meet the challenges of the market well prepared.
Getting back into personal contact with customers quickly and safely after the lockdown, ensuring production and protecting its employees was a high priority for WIKUS. Extensive hygiene measures ensured the protection of employees early on so that sawing tools could be produced and customer orders processed.
Customer communication and technical advice often took place via video conference, but online communication could not completely replace face-to-face exchanges. Thus, the saw factory launched the internal vaccination campaign "WIKUS rolls up its sleeves" and thus increasingly enabled personal appointments on site.
There were also changes in the management team: Jörg Utech was appointed as a member of the board in April 2021. As the new CEO, he is now responsible for the Management Division Finances and Resources – alongside Dr techn. Jörg H. Kullmann, Chairman of the board, responsible for the Management Division Technology and Production, and Michael Möller, CEO, responsible for the Management Division Group of companies and sales (Figure 2). With the expanded management structure, Sägenfabrik aims to ensure the successful further development of the corporate group and to meet the diverse requirements of the industry.
WIKUS relies on digital solutions not only for products, technical advice and the optimization of processes: in the future, customers will be able to move around in a 3D world to virtually experience the extensive product solutions. The application makes it possible to learn about the advantages and technical features of the products using 3D models in a level of detail that was previously not possible via the internet. A playful and intuitive access via a 360° animation awakens the joy of discovering the products. At the same time, WIKUS attaches great importance to the precise presentation of the products in order to make it easier for the customer to select the optimal sawing tool.
The application has already been successfully presented at the EMO in Milan and will be available to customers in Q1/2022.
Strategies and measures to reduce the use of resources will continue to gain relevance in 2022. Avoidable capital tie-up in warehousing, intelligent supplier management and secure supply chains are all part of this holistic set of issues, as is corporate social responsibility. Within this context, certifications are becoming increasingly important. WIKUS has already received DIN certification 50001 for energy management and DIN certification 9001 for quality management in the past (Figure 3), and in 2021 the bronze label of the sustainability platform EcoVadis and an award from the news magazine stern for the progress of digitalization in companies were added. Further awards as well as measures for a sustainable energy supply to reduce the use of fossil fuels are targeted.
Social commitment at the Spangenberg site will also remain an issue under the title WIforyou, a group of trainees, their trainers and many other WIKUS employees. In 2021, for example, the flood victims in the Ahr valley were supported with a fundraising campaign as part of this initiative (Figure 4). A second campaign motivated employees and their children to participate in a fundraising run for the preservation of forests. A total of 367 trees were run for, which are now being planted in Hesse. At Christmas, the sawmill made a donation to the Kleine Riesen Nordhessen e.V. association, which works to ensure that terminally ill children and young people are allowed to pass away accompanied by their families and in their familiar homes. In the coming year, WIKUS will continue its social commitment and support-worthy initiatives committed to the common good.
WIKUS would like to thank all its customers and partners for their many years of cooperation and wishes you a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2022!
Please note: our company is closed from December 23rd, 2021 to January 2nd, 2022.