Compulsory attendance: Surveying the mood of Adlershof-based manufacturing companies

28. April 2020

Compulsory attendance

Surveying the mood of Adlershof-based manufacturing companies

Mundschutzpflicht AEMtec © WISTA Management GmbH

Face masks are mandatory at AEMtec. Credit: © WISTA Management GmbH

Produktionshalle © WITT Sensoric GmbH / der-gottwald.de

In the production hall at WITT Sensoric: Patrick Harke (l.) and André Jensch setting up the wave soldering machine. Credit: © WITT Sensoric GmbH / der-gottwald.de

Remote working is a blessing for many faced with the coronavirus pandemic. But not everybody can enjoy this privilege. How are Adlershof-based companies dealing with the crisis? How are they coping with an uncertain future? We have been surveying the mood.

The products made by AEMtec GmbH are small, but excellent – and are still being manufactured in Adlershof without exception. The company is specialised on developing and producing complex micro and opto-electronic modules as well as complete systems for application in medicine, manufacturing, automation, data and telecommunications, semi-conductors as well as aerospace. CEO Jan Trommershausen has taken precautions to keep production up and running – after all, high-tech products cannot simply be produced ‘from home’.

The work is divided into three shifts. Shift change is organised in a way that avoids workers meeting in the changing rooms. Face masks are mandatory and strict distancing rules are enacted in the break room. The office staff is on rotation with one half working from home. Engineers, too, are taking turns. ‘We are digitising our processes as far as possible, but when producing highly specialised products in small numbers, automation quickly reaches its limits,’ says Trommershausen. It is unlikely that this will change in the future – the company will continue to rely on healthy employees. Seeing as its customers are not from the stricken automotive sector, Trommershausen has high hopes that the company can uphold normal operations, including an unchanged influx of orders. ‘Things obviously might change,’ he says. ‘If the supply of parts or customer demand stalls, we will try to absorb this by cautiously premanufacturing.’ The main thing is to prevent Kurzarbeit, the German short time working scheme, for as long as possible.

Cautiously optimistic, although 60 to 70 percent of his customers are from the automotive sector, Martin Lehmann, the CEO at EBK Krüger GmbH & Co. KG, avoids uttering the K-word altogether. The firm manufactures electromechanical parts like relays and fuel injectors, used to provide spare parts for older vehicles and machines after the end of production. However: ‘Much of what we do is done by hand. Meaning that attendance is compulsory,’ says Lehmann. Luckily for him, it is possible to maintain adequate distance between the workstations in manufacturing and the roughly 60 employees in Adlershof (30 more work in nearby Mariendorf). Most office staff are currently working remotely. Lehmann hopes that ‘as long as the supply chains hold, we will survive.’ However, he does not rule out the possibility that some orders will be suspended. This would be a bitter pill for Lehmann, who would then have to pay for production in advance.

For Jörg Brech, CEO of WITT Sensoric GmbH, the future also has plenty of question marks. Specialised on light beam systems for electric sliding doors in residential and industrial buildings, everything the company produces is produced in Berlin. And production is going well. According to Brech, this was for a reason: ‘We established measures to prevent the spread of the virus quickly and in regular consultation with employees and our medical advisors.’ The company manager is sure: ‘We are currently still at full capacity, but the situation can change quickly for an international company.’ For years, production ran at high capacity, but its growth was limited due to the many vacancies the company was struggling to fill. Brech: ‘This is why we see the current situation as an opportunity, and we want to use it.’ It remains to be seen if he can succeed. ‘We depend on the state of current affairs and political regulation, meaning that our scope for action as a company is often limited to reacting,’ says Brech regretfully. ‘Unfortunately, time does not heal all wounds. The longer this situation lasts, the bigger the economic damage will be at a structural level.’

By Chris Löwer for Adlershof Journal

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