Although the beginnings of Roland Electronic GmbH had been in siren construction, in the past decades the range of services has shifted to the areas of double sheet control, weld seam detection and steel cord inspection systems, where the medium-sized company has advanced to become the world market leader. Managing Director Marcus Bartle explained in an interview which pillars have made this success possible and why he sees ideal conditions for ambitious career starters in medium-sized companies in particular.
WF: Mr. Bartle, when Roland Electronic GmbH was founded in 1965, the company was still primarily involved in siren manufacturing. Today, on the other hand, your product portfolio looks much more diversified.
Marcus Bartle: In essence, our range of services covers three key product groups. At the center of this is our double sheet control, which, for example, can automatically detect in a press line whether two superimposed sheets are being fed to the respective press instead of one. This could lead to major damage to the line and correspondingly complex process problems, which we can consistently prevent with our solution. In October, we will be presenting a further development of this system at EuroBlech in Hanover, which will enable us to further optimize process times: After all, in the case of our customers' plants, most of which come from particularly demanding sectors such as the automotive and supplier industries, a time gain of just a few milliseconds per production step promises real benefits. On the other hand, the new system will be much easier and intuitive to operate because it has more intelligence from the outset, which plant operators can take advantage of.
WF: What other solutions does Roland Electronic GmbH offer on the market?
Marcus Bartle: In addition to our double sheet control, we also offer a weld seam detection system that can upgrade the respective tube bending line so that the detected weld seam is brought into the desired position before the respective tube is bent. The same solution can also be used for running coils, such as those used in profiling lines for metal profiles. Here, the weld seams are often not desired during further processing of the profiles or parts and must therefore be detected and eliminated. Meanwhile, our third field of activity is a steel cord inspection system 'SIS-Vision', which is used to detect inaccuracies in the steel cord of the still flat tire material before it is shaped into the appropriate form with a great deal of time and energy and the tire is then vulcanized. It is therefore ensured that no steel wires overlap there, or that the distances are not too large or too small. This avoids scrap parts and thus unnecessary expenditure of time and money. We have been offering the latest generation of this product since the beginning of the year, and since then it has experienced nice growth, although its customer spectrum will remain limited to a niche market, namely tire producers. There, however, it is proving very popular with particularly renowned and successful manufacturers, which pleases us greatly.
WF: What other innovations are currently on the agenda at your company?
Marcus Bartle: We have always placed great emphasis on the user-friendliness of our products, and the shortage of skilled workers that has been rampant in all industries has given this issue added urgency for some time now. Our technical developments are giving our customers ever greater flexibility: Whereas in the past a great deal of programming was required to use our solutions, today it must be possible to operate them after only a brief introduction, even by employees without specialist training or other extensive prior knowledge. In the future, we are also working on the use of artificial intelligence, which will enable our systems to learn independently each time they are operated and set up. Beyond these approaches, we will also continue to expand our services, which will become increasingly easy to implement with our increasingly intelligent products and corresponding remote maintenance solutions. Our commitment and reliability as a company are already paying off: Roland Electronic has always regarded maintenance, helpdesk and customer training as core components of our range of services, and as a result our complaint rate is barely measurable.
WF: What role do the values of commitment and reliability actually play in your day-to-day business?
Marcus Bartle: We live both claims every day in full sincerity - and in all directions: externally, in cooperation with our partners, clients and suppliers, and internally in the relationship with our employees. After all, the history of Roland Electronic is above all the history of great visionary power, with which we have expanded our technical expertise into ever new fields of application and markets, thus often successfully striving for and achieving world market leadership in the niches we occupy. This would never have been possible without the commitment of our expert and enthusiastic employees, for which I would like to express my sincere thanks. The almost non-existent fluctuation in our personnel structure is an important confirmation of our attractiveness as an employer. Sometimes we are even fortunate enough to have a specialist remain with us in well-deserved retirement on a part-time basis: this means that we do not lose any valuable knowledge, while the employee in question can continue to be involved in an activity that he or she still enjoys. It's rare to find such a family-like, high-performance environment in the usual corporate structures, which is why I sometimes wish that young professionals in particular would be a little more open to working for a medium-sized company.