Customer Interview with David Eisenmann from the Herrenknecht AG
Supply chains, sales markets, climate change - society, politics, but above all companies are facing major challenges. What are the biggest challenges for you as the company Herrenknecht and for the industry?
"The biggest challenge for us is the tight procurement market. For our purchasing department, this is of course the biggest impact at the moment. The current situation requires our attention to a particular extent especially in regards to cost and availability issues. This issue is coupled with a challenging sales market situation. Customers are understandably buying very consciously at the moment, but at the same time they give us the chance to play the keyboard more broadly."
What do you mean by a “broader keyboard”?
"Today’s customers do not only buy engineering performance. The relevance of issues beyond the product is becoming broader and increasingly coming into focus: for example the carbon footprint, energy efficiency, digital added value, such as connectivity in the sense of a networked construction site. At the same time, existing demands have not diminished, such as project timelines. Ongoing projects require reliable delivery times that cannot be postponed, as is sometimes possible in other industries."
That's a whole lot of requirements beyond the product itself. In your opinion, what added value do the solutions from thyssenkrupp rothe erde offer in particular with regard to your applications?
"The absolute reliability. Replacing a roller bearing in a tunnel-boring machine is extremely difficult and involves enormous costs. This is exactly how many customers measure the quality of our machines. It is not for nothing that we always refer to the roller bearing as the heart of our machine. It is an elementary component of our machine. In this respect, we also generate business opportunities with thyssenkrupp rothe erde's innovative strength and engineering prowess."
Can you give a concrete example for this?
"A very important issue for us is that we can't just keep getting more expensive. If 'technically better' always automatically means 'more expensive,' then it's not necessarily the right solution. With a steel-brass combination and with segmented cages, for example, we can generate cost advantages. One of the strengths of engineering at thyssenkrupp rothe erde is that they recognize precisely this cost focus on our side, understand it and act accordingly."
Do your customers recognize or demand the use of solutions from thyssenkrupp rothe erde?
"rothe erde® is a well-known and ubiquitous brand in our industry. rothe erde® as a label, that's a predicate for us that we sell all over the world. And yes, it is also important for us, not least to our customers, that it says thyssenkrupp rothe erde."
How long have you been sourcing products from thyssenkrupp rothe erde?
"Herrenknecht has been in existence for over 40 years, and since then we have also been sourcing products from thyssenkrupp rothe erde."
What influence or importance do customer-specific solutions have at Herrenknecht? How important is it that thyssenkrupp rothe erde supplies specific solutions based on specific requirements?
"For us, the customer does not define the roller bearing in every detail. In some cases, however, our customers are definitely interested in which bearing the machines are equipped with. Machines from Herrenknecht have to perform for the customer in a way that ensures technical functionality. For this reason, our engineers have developed many of the solutions together with thyssenkrupp rothe erde. We see this cooperation as very valuable and it definitely deserves to be highlighted, not least in view of the successes."
In this respect, there seems to be a common understanding of engineering and quality here?
"There sure is! The product works, it meets the customers' expectations.”
Which outstanding 'lighthouse projects' have you been able to implement with our solutions?
"Outstanding projects were of course the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the Bosporus underpass, the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link (TM-CLK) in Hong Kong or the Elbe Tunnel. Herrenknecht is a global technology and market leader, we are on the move on all continents and in this respect practically carry the heart of thyssenkrupp rothe erde into the world."
What is the next 'lighthouse project' that you are realizing with thyssenkrupp rothe erde, or is that still a secret?
(laughs) "Every project is important for us - basically, the bigger the bearing, the more likely we are to work with thyssenkrupp rothe erde. Not everyone can produce roller bearings with a diameter greater than eight meters."
Thank you Mr. Eisenmann for the insights and the exciting interview.
"You are very welcome. I look forward to a continued good cooperation."