A visit to the Gienanth Group in Eisenberg/Palatinate region had been planned for a long time, but had been delayed due to the pandemic. Now, it came at just the right time.
Iron casting has a long tradition at the group's locations in Eisenberg / Palatinate, Fronberg / Bavaria, Steyr in Upper Austria and Bujanov in the Czech Republic, explains Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brenninger, the CEO and the management demands a high degree of flexibility and innovation, especially in difficult times.
Within the Group, iron has been casted for over 500 years with knowledge, experience and passion. We had the opportunity to visit Gienanth, of one of the world's leading foundry groups and technology leader, with state-of-the-art systems in machine and hand-molded casting.
With or without a pandemic - the complexity of a foundry and the diversity of the cast parts always open up options
Of course, the effects of Covid-19, the lockdown and the economic weakness have also affected Gienanth, but the group is still well positioned.
“The year 2020 will be rather subdued in terms of sales and earnings, the difficult situation, especially in March and April, could be cushioned by short-time work and a reduction in temporary employment. The goal was to secure as many jobs as possible for the well-trained employees in production, because the prospects for 2021 and 2022 already indicate that there are interesting inquiries and orders for future projects,” reports Dr. Brenninger among his young employees from the first management level, whom he had brought along for the interview. Even in the current crisis year, Gienanth was able to record over 140 new orders, which will be reflected in production volumes in the coming years.
Gienanth had already prepared for possible industrial challenges in 2016 and strategically rejuvenated the management team. With young, excellently trained and networked engineers and managers, Brenninger linked for instance quality management step by step with personnel management to anchor the zero-defect mentality even more.
When it comes to innovation management, you have to know how it's done, underlines Brenninger, pointing out that his heterogeneous team is rethinking the challenges. Because the transformation in the automotive industry affects all foundries. That is why Gienanth's strategy had been clear for a long time to discover and develop alternatives to powertrain products, such as brake plates for commercial vehicles and also to align the sales focus towards the agricultural industry and rail.
The example of the brake backing plates clearly shows what Brenninger means specifically. Together with the customer, new brake pads with a bionomer structure, comparable to a honeycomb, were developed and, with the similar product characteristics, a weight reduction of more than 20% for the cast part was achieved. For Brenninger, the decisive factor is always the cooperation with the respective customer in which the requirements are jointly determined and the best symmetries for the casting are developed.
Gienanth has not only set its sights on the European markets for a long time, but also delivers worldwide. In December 2019, a joint venture in India laid the foundation for the casting of engine blocks for European customers in India. The first engine blocks from India are to be cast in 2021. There is also a cooperation with a large American foundry group in the USA, with good development opportunities there.
How well a company is exhibited is first shown by its internal structures, flexibility and innovative ability, but of course also by visible awards and recognition by leading customers.
The Gienanth Group has received numerous, respectable awards and recognitions over the past 3 years:
MTU Supplier Award:
Award for best quality of the subsidiary Fronberg Guss at the customer Rolls Royce Power Systems in the years 2017/18/19 in the category 'raw parts worldwide'
Schaeffler 'Valued Partner' 2020:
Award as a valuable partner of the Schaeffler Group
Gienanth has demonstrably contributed to the Schaeffler Group's success
TOP 100 Award:
Gienanth was awarded 2019 for the company development, the extraordinary innovation management and the structured innovation ability
Grand Prix of SMEs 2019:
Award from the Oskar Patzelt Foundation due to the economic and social performance
German Innovation Award 2019:
Gienanth was awarded for the optimized design of brake plates for commercial vehicles
Corporate Health Award 2020:
Gienanth was recognized for its extraordinary health management, which is well above the industry average
Naming of Gienanth as best-in-class example for ‘Made in Germany’
Repeated honored by the 'Innovation Award' 2019 + 2020 as innovation leader in the foundry industry on 1st place in Germany
Nomination in the reference class for 'highest reputation' of the Gienanth brand in international comparison
What to expect in the next few years
As for the expectations and prospects for 2021, Brenninger is quite optimistic. Already now there is a high variety and diversity of completely new parts, some of which have been requested, but are already being planned. The customers of the Gienanth Group are all leading companies in their markets and so it is not surprising that the castings are in demand all over the world, from the USA, Mexico and Brazil, Europe and Russia to China and Japan.
The foundry must also be able to calculate and implement with smaller volumes.
In general, strong and innovative companies will be the winners of the current difficult situation; some companies will generally consolidate before the capacity limits are reached again.
The extent to which the supply chains could shift is not yet clear, but more local for local is becoming noticeable in Germany.
Since the 15th century, the Gienanth Group is processing iron , passionately and at all times with the latest technology. Today in the age of the 4th industrial revolution, those responsible manage to react confidently to the challenges of the time.
Constant process optimization on the basis of a consistent zero-defect mentality and continuous improvement towards operational excellence, this is how Brenninger outlines the present and enthusiastically adds “the foundation of our success are people and that begins with the training and further education of motivated employees.”
Gienanth is METALLovation® is the company's slogan, an impressive combination of metal and innovation that we were able to see for ourselves.
Thank you very much for the invitation and the interview. Best of luck going forward!