POLYTEC PASSION CREATES INNOVATION

A NEW SET-UP THANKS TO CONSISTENT TRANSFORMATION

FORCING THE PACE

The POLYTEC GROUP’s market environment is undergoing a process of paradigmatic change. More than ever, new mobility concepts demand innovative, straightforward and comprehensive solutions from one source. Therefore, POLYTEC is meeting these requirements with an entirely new organisational structure.

 

Challenging, difficult and critical are just three of the many epithets used in recent months to characterise the 2020 financial year. Some of these also describe the situation of the POLYTEC GROUP, which, like all other automotive suppliers, was not only subject to the fundamental transition within the industry, but first and foremost was affected directly by the distortions triggered by the corona crisis. Nevertheless, within this context a totally different term must be mentioned before any other: acceleration. This is because the group has utilised the far-reaching impacts of the pandemic for a major structural reorganisation, which against the backdrop of a transformed market environment is intended to guide the POLYTEC GROUP to future success.

New mobility concepts such as e-mobility, the steadily increasing demand for lightweight design solutions and the integration of different functions in a single component are just some of the numerous drivers which in recent years have fundamentally altered the market for plastic vehicle components. In order to account for this structural metamorphosis, POLYTEC already opted for a course correction several years ago which has involved a wealth of initiatives in a variety of areas extending from lean management to digitalisation and from network organisation to empowerment. All of these measures were aimed at employing the technological competences of the entire group to a maximum extent in order to seize the opportunities offered by the sea change in market conditions. 


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Interlocking technologies for a customer focus

Formed in 2019, the POLYTEC SOLUTION FORCE embodies the efforts to create plastics solutions that transcend technological borders. This market image is backed by an organisation comprised of eight Product Lines that has replaced the former business unit structure, which was based upon technological categories. The restructuring process has also shifted the starting point for POLYTEC’s activities, which no longer derive from an internal perspective and asking, “What technologies does POLYTEC command?” but rather that of the customers and the question, “What solution does POLYTEC offer for my project?” Therefore, in future trans-technological working will be required and promoted to an even greater extent within the POLYTEC GROUP. The new set-up is intended to establish a clear focus on customer needs. When a client from a certain field requires a component offering specific characteristics and functions, POLYTEC will provide a tailor-made, overall solution as a single source supplier. On request, comprehensive consulting will be offered with regard to material selection, component development and production technology. Consequently, as CSO Peter Bernscher explains, “Customers are no longer faced with the dilemma of having to consider in advance whether an injection moulding, fibre composite or polyurethane represents the ideal solution. As long as they intend to create a product made of plastic, they are in safe hands with POLYTEC as we will deal competently with the detailed conception.” For customers this simplifies the realisation of new product ideas, as they can already access POLYTEC’s know-how in every question relating to materials and production technologies during the product design phase, if required.

 

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Active development work increases market opportunities

The POLYTEC SOLUTION FORCE is by no means solely concerned with concrete customer orders, but instead is increasingly developing its own product solutions. Internal and external experts are researching into new material combinations, applications and production processes. More information about these and other POLYTEC innovations can be found here.
Irrespective of whether a customer contract or an internal development is involved, close cooperation is of decisive importance for the market success of a product. Accordingly, it is precisely this teamwork that can be found in POLYTEC’s Product Line organisation. Sales personnel evaluate the demand situation, development engineers evolve the optimum technological solution and project managers provide professional realisation. In this way successful solutions for a fiercely contested market are created on the basis of customer requests or in-house ideas. This approach sounds reasonable, logical and at first, also straightforward. However, it required comprehensive organisational modifications in the background. Therefore, POLYTEC used the 2020 crisis for the final decisive steps in this process, which have brought together all of the measures of recent years. As a result, the largest reform programme in the corporate history of the POLYTEC GROUP has been successfully concluded.
 

 

Centrally coordinated service functions
​​​​​​​create synergies and streamlining

One of the most important measures was the pooling of service functions, which were previously organised on a parallel basis within the COMPOSITES, PLASTICS and CAR STYLING Business Units. Since this amalgamation, not only services in the lean management, human resources, digitalisation and IT areas, but also combined purchasing, tooling and quality management as well as all competence around the manufacturing process have been provided bundled for the entire POLYTEC GROUP. This not only generates synergetic cost advantages, but also facilitates activities across technological and plant boundaries. The basis in this regard is provided to a large extent by the digitalisation measures initiated in recent years. Today numerous, inter-locational teams are working on new product solutions and ideas. In turn, these efforts constitute a prerequisite for the expansion of the POLYTEC GROUP’s product and customer portfolio. 

Business Units have given way to Product Lines and Plant Clusters

The aforementioned amalgamation of the Business Units also represents a massive break with tradition within the POLYTEC GROUP. For nearly thirty years these divisions were clustered according to material and production technologies and served both as internal reference points and guidance for the group’s market appearance. And although it is true that cross-technology cooperation within the POLYTEC GROUP has always existed, it was not on the scale needed to deal with the changed market of today. Markus Huemer explains his deliberations as follows, “It makes little sense to mentally and practically switch to product-oriented Product Lines while at the same time retaining an organisation consisting of three fully equipped technology-oriented Business Units.” Therefore, the POLYTEC GROUP’s executive management decided to combine the Business Units in two regional Plant Clusters with a joint organisation. As a result, indirect and overhead costs have been lowered and the service level raised.
​​​​​​​In addition, the Plant Cluster organisation permits scalable production. COO Heiko Gabbert explains, “It is important to be well prepared for possible growth through acquisitions. The Plant Clusters are ideal for this purpose as new production locations can be integrated easily.” 

Coordinated know-how transfer​​​​​​​

In addition, the new organisation should contribute to bringing the vast technological and production complexity within the group under permanent control and thus increase its employment for product development and manufacture. Among others, the Operational Excellence Department (OPEX for short) is responsible for this assignment and forms an interface between the Product Lines and manufacturing at the individual plants. In this way, the latter can focus to a far greater degree upon daily operative business, while OPEX gathers know-how and experience from all the group’s locations in order to make it available in concentrated form. Moreover, the department coordinates the areas of process and automation technology, as well as logistics and maintenance in a system that results in improved performance and lower production costs. Last, but not least, by means of centrally guided know-how transfers, OPEX is intended to enable the creation of plants in which differing technologies can be utilised without the necessity of every single location having the entire technological expertise of the group and the corresponding resources at its disposal. The establishment of such plants, which posses a lean organisation and combine various technologies at a single location, is important not least because products requiring the use of various materials and technologies are of growing market significance. The OPEX Department also assumes a central role in this regard.

 

 

Efficient, transparent and robust controlling

Performance has also been raised in the Finance area. One task is to push ahead with digitalisation with the aim of achieving maximum commercial transparency throughout the product life cycle of customer projects. Within the framework of ongoing digitalisation programmes, POLYTEC is creating a standardised data world in order to improve data availability and make control easier. As a result, CFO Peter Haidenek awaits markedly more efficient working and simpler communications.

A fresh spin for new market segments and innovations

With the help of the new organisation, POLYTEC also intends to expand its portfolio in the e-mobility and non-automotive areas in the years to come. From a technological perspective, the group is already well equipped in these fields and manufactures complex modules for e-powered vehicles and industrial applications. CSO Peter Bernscher is therefore convinced that, “At the moment a great deal is changing due the conceptual redesign of vehicles. Therefore, new players are looking for competent partners that have a mastery of different technologies and processes.” The POLYTEC SOLUTION FORCE​​​​​​​ will lend processing in these market segments a fresh spin and, in addition, promote the development of in-house product ideas.

A solid financial footing

In spite of the crisis during the past year, the POLYTEC GROUP remains on a sound financial footing. An equity ratio of over 42 per cent forms a solid capital basis for investments in organisational measures, product development and possible acquisitions, which for the POLYTEC GROUP continue to represent an important strategic element in future growth. Undoubtedly, the organisational restructuring process constitutes the beginning of a new era for the POLYTEC GROUP. The company has reinvented itself in many areas and with its new structure is moving in the right direction on the road to lasting future success.

 

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