This German company is a global market leader in automation technology and industrial training. Festo AG & Co. KG in Ostfildern provides 300,000 customers from 35 different industries with pneumatic and electronic automation technology. We spoke to Christian Kubis, Director of Factory Maintenance Engineering at Festo Scharnhausen, about productivity, processes and basketball hoops.
In cooperation with Bene, you have installed four innovation rooms in your company. Why did you decide to do this?
We wanted rooms that specifically promoted innovation and creativity. We also wanted to create an environment that motivates employees to get involved and share their ideas with others.
How are these rooms received by the employees and in what way are they used?
Initially, our employees were quite sceptical. However, this changed after we had explained the rooms to them – they then understood how they could be used and how they work. Everyone who is familiar with the rooms and has already worked in them is enthusiastic.
What does innovation mean to Festo?
Innovation not only takes place in research but in all areas of the company. It does not have to be something completely new, it can also develop out of a combination of already existing ideas. The innovation process is influenced by many different aspects: employees and methods play a role, as does the organisation and the time invested. However, these are not the only factors to take into account – the ambiance and the room are also very important.
What advice would you give to a company that has decided to specifically promote innovation? What are the most important aspects to bear in mind?
For innovative work to be successful, employees need to be able to think freely and forget their everyday tasks as completely as possible. An important part of this is having an ambiance that is different from the area where they usually work. Very simple things help here such as a football table, a golf mat, a basketball or a dart board.
At Festo, the innovation rooms are at the production site. What do you think that knowledge work and classical industry can learn from each other?
At the end of the day, it is always about productivity. Costs, quality, performance and deadlines are important in both areas. If you want to be one of the best, you need to make new ideas production ready as quickly as possible. It is therefore important to recognise all opportunities and risks during the planning stage and to come up with solutions.
What are the biggest changes that will take place in industry over the next few years? What do you think work will be like in the future?
To summarise very quickly: everything will get faster and more complex. The life cycle of products will become even shorter and, at the same time, production will become more complex. This means that the exchange of knowledge is particularly important in this area. We need to continue to become more agile and efficient in our planning processes, we need to be able to anticipate developments and act quickly, without the quality suffering. The prototyping of processes will also play a very important role – precisely because everything is constantly changing.
Thank you for the interview!