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SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2011 > Technology Management > Interview

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dipl.-Wirt. Ing. Günther Schuh
Photo: Fraunhofer IPT

Uniform Processes a Must

Professor Günther Schuh, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT, on the insights gained through consortium benchmarking in the area of technology management.

Christine Fuhr

solutions: What is Fraunhofer IPT’s approach to research?

Professor Schuh: Our main goal is to develop practical and sustainable solutions for use in working with technologies. The approaches that we develop for technology management are designed to make companies successful and give them a competitive edge.

solutions: What are the current challenges in the area of technology management?

Professor Schuh: Companies need to know where knowledge originates and set up appropriate networks for early detection of techno­logies in the form of communities. They need to ask themselves how they will be able to align their long-term planning to suit the megatrends in society in order to be able to anticipate latent customer expectations. Besides this, they must see to it that they have their own processes under control, yet still remain flexible enough to be able to adapt to changed framework conditions. Moreover, a culture that encourages creativity and innovations needs to be promoted in order to be able to use the skills that exist inside one’s own company.

solutions: What do ”Successful Practice” companies do better than other companies?

Professor Schuh: We’ve learned that seamless and uniform processes across the entire organization are the backbone of successful technology management. But putting people in the middle of the corporate culture is equally important. That spurs them on to come up with innovative solutions! And if procedures are designed to be flexible from the very start, the company will usually be able to cope with even unforeseen situations.

solutions: What (three) factors were crucial to success in SCHOTT’s particular case?

Professor Schuh: The consistency of the processes stood out positively at SCHOTT. They make it possible for new technologies to be identified and then be converted into actual products in a systematic manner for the various divisions. Besides, SCHOTT is also very successful at reaping the benefits of a technology’s potential to the fullest extent. The technologies developed are not only used in its own products. Instead, the company actively looks for other ways of commercializing these technologies outside the organization, through licensing, for instance. This is then supported by effective and efficient controlling that relies on the relevant quantitative and qualitative performance indicators that give the company a feeling for how successful its own strategies, processes and structures actually are.

solutions: What do you mean when you say, ”companies that have everything under control are too slow?”

Professor Schuh: This pertains to controlling. Companies that measure the performance of their technology management all the way down to the second position after the decimal point will need an incredible amount of time just to gain a feeling for the actual situation at the end.

solutions: When will you begin working on your next benchmarking project?

Professor Schuh: Consortium benchmarking in technology management takes place each year on an alternating basis with consortium benchmarking in purchasing. So, we are planning the next round in the area of technology management for 2012. But, we are already accepting registrations, of course. <|
The Fraunhofer IPT develops systems solutions for production. Among other things, it focuses on the topics of process technology and technology management. Photo: Fraunhofer IPT