What traces will the corona crisis leave behind in the company? What makes a sustainable business model? Klaus Endress and Matthias Altendorf provide answers.
Mr Altendorf, what does the corona pandemic mean for Endress+Hauser?
Altendorf: The corona crisis has confronted our customers and us with immense challenges. When the virus spread, we took action immediately – first we issued travel restrictions, then ever more extensive measures. Our employees’ and customers’ health took priority at all times. At the same time, we wanted to support our customers in the best possible way, given a situation like that: how can we remain operational and keep up delivery, how can we assist our customers to keep their plants up and running?
How will the crisis affect the economy?
Altendorf: Today, we cannot tell exactly how. We made a good start into 2020, with a considerable order backlog… but the crisis will leave its mark, with our customers and with us. But what counts, after all, is this: what we do is important for our customers. We can assist them in getting better and
making their processes, products and manufacturing facilities even more efficient. And this applies to all aspects, so that they can further improve quality, raise productivity and reduce their use of resources. That is what takes our customers forward, in fair weather and all the more in challenging times. We have a sustainable business model!
Endress: We will never run out of work, not in a hundred years – not as long as we don’t lose sight of the customers and markets. The world population is growing, life expectancy and standards of living are on the rise. All of these people need water, food, energy, medications, all types of goods. At the same time, we have to manage our resources efficiently
and take account of the environment. All these things will lead to more demand for measurement technology. Besides, we maintain a global presence, in many industries. Of course, a worldwide crisis affects us, but not full on and not digitally, just because the world and the industries are developing in different ways. That gives room to attract business and keep
people in work.
Before the corona crisis, climate policy largely dominated public debate. What does that mean for Endress+Hauser?
Altendorf: On the one hand, we can help our customers drive down energy consumption, resource utilization and polluting emissions. This is our core business. It’s what we do every day. On the other hand, we have to manage
resources responsibly on our own. We do a lot here, although we are certainly not using our full capabilities so far. But we’ve always been a little ahead of our time – and it should stay that way!
Endress: Those are issues that we have been addressing for decades! We were active in protecting the environment before others had even talked about it, just because it was important for us.
Then what is Endress+Hauser doing exactly?
Altendorf: From the perspective of a manufacturer, we have the advantage that we don’t operate an energy-intensive business. Building and office infrastructure, commuting, business travel and material transport account for most of our ecological footprint. This is where we can start, by
constructing highly energy-efficient buildings everywhere in the world. In Canada we are taking this a step further by building a facility that is 100 percent energy self-sufficient. We even accept higher costs because we believe it sends all the right signals.
That doesn’t change the fact that many Endress+Hauser customers don’t have very sustainable business models.
Altendorf: It’s a complex issue. Take food & beverage, our biggest industry, which ensures that we’re able to feed the world. At the same time, livestock farming in the dairy industry, to cite one example, is one of the biggest sources of methane emissions. Are we supposed to discontinue this business abruptly? That’s certainly not the answer. What we can do is help our customers limit the amount of methane released into the environment – or, at best, completely eliminate it. I believe there is broad consensus that we have to change course. But what we need for this transformation are solid technical solutions and an accelerated approach. We are able to say in good conscience that we are on the right track here. Everything that we do at Endress+Hauser helps people. That’s something very positive!