With a comprehensive package of measures, KHS is ensuring that its customer relationships are intensified. This includes the expansion and further qualification of the network as well as the standardization of structures and processes as well as the on-site increase in personnel.
Getting even closer to customers by expanding the "Global Footprint" - this goal is at the heart of the "KHS 2025" strategy program. The most important prerequisite for this is to be perceived as a reliable supplier and partner all over the world. With production sites, service hubs, and sales companies around the world, the Dortmund system provider is already very well positioned in this regard. The main thing now is to strengthen this global on-site presence by expanding production capacities and increasingly qualifying the network - for example by setting up training centers that help to intensify customer relationships in the after-sales area. At the same time, the global organization is being adjusted by consistently standardizing structures.
The third point in particular poses a challenge: as an essential factor for economic success, the KHS parent company Salzgitter has placed people at the center of its strategy and invites employees to contribute and implement their ideas. However, this is offset by the fact that many employees are retiring due to demographic change. In this situation, it is important to secure existing know-how and - above all - to recruit new staff. In order to master this, KHS has established a process to ensure knowledge transfer. On the other hand, the company attaches great importance to fair, attractive working conditions and open cooperation that is characterized by respect and appreciation. Against this background, one is optimistic
Especially in the areas of service, line engineering and project management, production and commissioning as well as in sales, capacities are significantly expanded at an early stage. Demand is particularly high in North, Central and South America, where KHS has three production sites. In view of global growth potential, the increase in personnel, investments in infrastructure and the introduction of uniform digital solutions are also taking place in all other regions. In addition to proximity to the customer, the issue of sustainability plays a major role: With the local-to-local approach, production and after-sales in particular are being upgraded worldwide to such an extent that they are increasingly able to carry out their work without support if possible to cope with Germany. This eliminates the need for costly transport.2 savings and time savings that KHS would like to exploit to the best of its ability in the interest of its customers.
The plant in Kunshan, China, which opened at the end of 2021, marked the start of the site investments. The move to a new address within the Greater Shanghai area involved the expansion of the production area to four times the previous dimensions: Today, the latest generation of stretch blow molding machines, block solutions and high-speed lines for water and carbonated soft drinks are manufactured on a total area of 20,000 square meters. Despite the sometimes difficult conditions of the corona pandemic and the Chinese zero-Covid policy, the plant has started successfully: The time for installation and commissioning has been reduced by around a third compared to before. In addition, KHS offers comprehensive on-site service in China, which can supply spare parts at short notice thanks to the warehouse in Kunshan.
Capacity expansion in Waukesha
Another example relates to North America: In November 2022, the campus of the US branch in the USA was significantly enlarged. At the Waukesha site, just a few kilometers from the beer town of Milwaukee, the assembly hall was enlarged by almost 2,200 square meters. "We wanted to increase the level of our local production," emphasizes Glenn Huber, chief executive officer and president of KHS USA. “This applies to the production of PET and, above all, can fillers. In this context, our Smart Can by KHS/Ferrum block solution, which we are building together with the Swiss manufacturer of can seamers, deserves special mention. We see enormous growth potential here.” The USA is also the main sales market for the compact Innofill Can C can filler, which is particularly popular with the large number of craft brewers in the country.
Part of the new hall is a training center that is used for external and internal training. "Because our training rooms are directly connected to the production, we can go to the machines with the participants at any time and make the learning content practical," says Turner, chief ooperating officer in Waukesha. Overall, customers have responded very well to the training offered: "Your operators are trained here to become experts and can therefore take on more responsibility in the plants, both for the systems and overall," emphasizes Turner.
In addition to all the practical advantages, chief executive officer Huber sees another positive aspect of the approximately EUR 5.6 million investment, “We have been based here since 1972. But it's only since we put up a huge KHS sign on the facade of our extension facing the busy Highway 94 that people in the region are aware of us." economic factor in the region. In addition to the external effect, this is a strong internal signal to the 355 employees who work here.
They have just moved into a completely new building in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. The new headquarters of KHS East Africa, a branch that has grown by more than 50 percent in the last 10 years, was built here in the last few months. After the decision to expand had already been made in 2019, a suitable property was searched for a long time. "We finally found what we were looking for in a beautiful location on the green outskirts of the metropolis," says Denise Schneider-Walimohamed, who heads the location as managing director. Based on Karen Blixen's novel "Out of Africa", she raves about the "office at the foot of the Ngong Mountains". With an architectural competition in which local offices took part, she ensured that an attractive and sustainable building was created in the regional architectural style. "We have created around 2,000 square meters of usable space on a plot of almost 5,000 square meters," explains Schneider-Walimohamed. “We now have an extensive assembly and spare parts warehouse that supports us with installation and commissioning as well as with service. And we have the offices needed to accommodate the addition of new technical sales staff, layout artists and project managers to our site, who are playing a key role in realizing the 'One KHS' vision.”
As in Waukesha, a completely new training center is part of the expanded space program in Nairobi: "We have set up a training hub here that is also available to other KHS business centers outside of Kenya," emphasizes Daniella Pleitz, general manager of the branch leads together with her sister. "Both our customers and we benefit from this. With our full-time trainers trained and certified in Germany, we are well positioned to cover the intensive training needs on site."
The rooms are designed for a variety of uses: in addition to further training measures, they are also a suitable setting for customer presentations, workshops and specialist lectures, says Schneider-Walimohamed, who is looking forward to organizing many events here in the future. Like her colleagues in the USA, she also sees the inward-looking significance of the two-million investment: “From the point of view of our employees, this commitment is another example of what an attractive and sustainable employer we are. In a country where the labor market is characterized by high fluctuation, you can't overestimate this image," she says. The statistics prove her right:
With a view to customer proximity, further investments in locations have already been made or are planned around the world - for example in Colombia and Chile, in Nigeria as well as in Dubai or in India. Despite the decentralization of certain functions and given the strengthening of the regions, an important goal is to ensure that all customers around the world experience KHS in the same way. To do this, common standards must be observed within the organization so that communication works smoothly and without loss.
An essential prerequisite for this is a harmonized system landscape, emphasizes Dagmar Swientek, who, as director sales and service business development at KHS, is responsible for precisely this: “On the one hand, digital networking makes the exchange of information with a view to production and technology much easier, for example for parts lists or master data. On the other hand, it enables us to provide the customer portal KHS Connect. Everyone works with the same tools - from the offer to the CRM tool. Despite largely standardized processes around the world, regional characteristics were taken into account where this made sense for the customer.”
In order to successfully introduce the new system, local experts were trained who can offer first-level support on site for all questions. With the help of additional change management activities, employees are relieved of any fears and they learn what added value the system offers them and their customers.
The KHS Connect customer portal promises a significant benefit. In his shop, beverage manufacturers will not only find everything they are looking for - be it spare or wear parts. At the same time, future conversions can be proactively offered, with which energy, media or material consumption can be reduced or a machine can be maintained for longer. In order to make all of this even more accessible, we are currently developing the KHS Connect app, which shows our customers how their systems are running and when they next need a service technician or what spare parts are needed. "In this way, we ensure a holistic digital KHS experience worldwide," promises Swientek. "The tools that we offer are not an end in themselves, but an enabler,