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The pillars of successful production: Interview with Gerald Buchinger

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Supply Chain Director Gerald Buchinger.

As a result of the corona virus pandemic, the beginning of 2020 was without question a turbulent time. In our second interview with Gerald Buchinger, you will find out how Frauscher was able to keep up its production despite all this. Gerald also explains, from his point of view, how Frauscher has evolved over the course of the past 25 years.

You have been employed at Frauscher for over a quarter of a century. It’s probably fair to say that you have become part of the inventory by now. When you look back on your time at the company, how would you describe its development over the past years?

Gerald: The introduction of the aforementioned production concept was definitely a major milestone for us. And it was urgently needed due to the company’s rapid growth. This was a very important step, because otherwise we would not be able to work as efficiently as we do today. When I started working for Frauscher, right after finishing secondary school, we were only six employees. At that time, I still wrote serial numbers on our products by hand with black permanent marker – and the test records in pencil on my black spiral-bound notepad. Today, that’s unimaginable (laughs).

25 years ago, hardly anything was digital. In purchasing, for example, we had a huge wall unit with all the catalogues. Without internet or e-mail, you had to leaf through them one by one and then call the supplier for information on prices and delivery times. Orders were sent by fax – and you had to go to the boss' office, because that’s where the only fax machine for the entire company was. Nowadays, digitalisation plays an important role across all areas of the company.

What characterises you as a team, and what influence does this have on the company’s success? 

Gerald: Team spirit and solidarity as well as identification with Frauscher and our quality consciousness are essential pillars for long-term success. In production, we have very loyal employees and a very low staff turnover, which also has the advantage that implicit knowledge remains within the company. Ultimately, our customers benefit from this as well.

How can internal production be maintained without interruption during the corona crisis?

Gerald: The first important measure was the spatial isolation of production from all other company departments. Then we divided our employees into three separate teams for further risk mitigation. This allowed us to maintain a safe distance from each other. 

Is there a slump in production capacity utilisation?

Gerald: At the beginning of the corona pandemic, it was difficult to make a forecast on production capacity utilisation. Looking back, there was no slump. Mainly because we were busy with large orders from China during the duration of the corona wave in Europe.

Are there any supply shortages of raw materials?

Gerald: Our regional supplier structure helped us in this regard. Thanks to long-term contracts, our partner companies are able to plan their procurement at an early stage and hold raw materials in stock. Combined with our own stocks, we can bridge any shortages for a duration of several weeks. We are proud to report that all suppliers have delivered without interruption.

Is the corona crisis impacting digitalisation in production?

Gerald: As we all know, communication possibilities have been limited due to the various protective measures. However, this situation also encouraged us to press ahead with further initiatives regarding digitalisation in production. For instance, we have equiped production areas with technical equipment and tools so that video conferences with external participants can also be held from there at any time.

In the future, every production employee will be provided with an iPhone to support them in their daily tasks. This enables them to stay up to date on company news even when they are absent. It’s also another important step towards becoming a paperless, digital factory. 

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