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Kurtz Ersa Asia

How did Kurtz Ersa Asia cope with the Corona crisis? Insights into day-to-day business in Asia

“时代的一粒灰,落在个人头上,就是一座山。”

 

A Chinese proverb went viral during the pandemic – translated as follows: “One grain of dust from an era may not seem like much, but when it falls on your head, it is like a mountain crashing down on you.” When Covid-19 swept across the world in early 2020, manufacturing companies faced major challenges. Some factories had to close temporarily, but at Kurtz Ersa Asia, demand increased, leading to a quick recovery in 2021 thanks to stringent measures.

Global Situation. During the global pandemic, Kurtz Ersa Asia faced a number of challenges: The first problem was the restriction of travel and face-to-face meetings due to the lockdown. Employees moved to home offices, production sites were divided into shifts to reduce face-to-face contact, whereas customer-facing employees could not relocate their work. Second, there was a logistical crisis due to disrupted supply chains. Shipping capacity became a scarce commodity, driving up shipping costs.

The third wave led to shortages of numerous materials. Despite all the turbulence, Kurtz Ersa Asia was able to further expand its business and supply customers with machines and services for their production. By the end of 2021, KEA even achieved the highest sales in its history.

 

Logistics crisis and global sourcing. The Covid 19 crisis has shaken up global delivery schedules. While the largest US retailers chartered private cargo ships, Kurtz Ersa found other solutions: a mix of ocean freight, air freight and, for the first time, shipping by rail. Using the train connection between Germany and China is a sensible compromise of cost and delivery time. The combination of different shipping methods came about through detailed analysis and control of worldwide inventories, as well as a forecast for the coming months.

With targeted measures, Kurtz Ersa has succeeded in maintaining processes and production at a high level. This was made possible by systematic key measures, some of which were implemented in response to new and rapidly changing situations.

Safety first! To ensure the safety of personnel beyond the immediate crisis, KEA management integrated parts of the emergency guidelines into the plants´ standard operating procedures.

These included increased health surveillance and access control, regular disinfection of equipment, and basic cleaning of workstations and vehicles. Following the lifting of the closure of various cities in China, factory management in Zhuhai ensured that work and production resumed in an orderly manner. Instead of business trips, exchanges with customers took place virtually via telephone and/or video conferencing. External events were canceled or postponed and the company switched to digital communication channels.

 

Communication. Due to the strong global IT infrastructure in the Kurtz Ersa Group, working groups could be formed quickly to address problems. KEA regularly informed customers and suppliers about the latest developments. In July, Bernd Schenker, President of Kurtz Ersa Asia, reported on the very good results and continued growth in an online conference for employees from Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City and other locations, and thanked the team for their efforts.

KEA communicated openly and proactively with customers and clients regarding the pandemic situation as well as the shortage crisis, which led to adjustments in delivery times. Each individual machine delivery was discussed with the customers. In close communication and by mutual agreement, some major customers changed delivery times for individual orders. Other customers changed the shipping method. Individual solutions were found on a case-by-case basis, and no order was cancelled. In addition to communication to coordinate all incoming orders, Kurtz Ersa Asia uses social media to inform customers and clients about the actions taken. For the Chinese market, Kurtz Ersa Asia launched two official WeChats in 2021 to strengthen its connection with customers. Similarly, an online demo service was installed, and live seminars and E-exhibitions were organized in China and Vietnam.

 

Promoting productivity. Despite the current difficult situation, KEA is sticking to its long-term strategy. For employees´ professional development, KEA offered online training for employees during the closure activities in China in early 2020. “We made good use of the time during the closure after the 2020 Chinese New Year,” says Michael Feng, head of the Chinese service team, whose team received the latest updates and training during the period, keeping them motivated.

As infection rates in China dropped significantly and business resumed, the KEA service team did everything it could to implement the service commitment to customers. In June 2020, when the epidemic had just subsided and many customers resumed production, a German-owned company in Jiangsu asked to perform annual maintenance over the weekend, including internal cleaning of several soldering systems and replacement of consumable parts. KEA engineers completed the work professionally and to the highest quality standards. Even during the Corona crisis, KEA systematically prepared for a gradual ramp-up of production. Kurtz Zhuhai Manufacturing (KZM) reached the next milestone for its successful model in April 2021 with the production of the 2,000th reflow soldering system – a HOTFLOW 3/26 XL. Thanks to the optimized product line, production volume in Zhuhai recorded a slight increase of 3.5% for 2020 and a record 20.5% for 2021. The KEA team is ready for the future!

Kurtz Ersa Vietnam: Vic Le Thuy, Operation Manager
From July to September 2021, the “3 on site” plan or “one-way commute” was in effect – meaning employees lived in provided housing from where they commuted to and from the factory. For effective on-site service, Kurtz Ersa Vietnam moved the stay to safer areas to support customers. In agreement with one of our customers, the Vietnamese team stayed in a dormitory and provided technical support for the implementation of “3 on site” for almost two months. From October 1, 2021, the Vietnamese team slowly returned to the new normal.

 

Kurtz Far East Ltd.: Perkas Raman, Service Manager

Malaysia also experienced lockdowns and strict travel restrictions. Due to a strategic project in Thailand, the Service Manager Southeast Asia left his residence in Malaysia – this was done on the basis of a Thai-Malaysian special permit from the health authorities for business travel. After a 14-day hotel quarantine and remote customer support, he went directly to the commissioning of a selective soldering system. After the work was done, another 14-day quarantine took place in Malaysia. The Thai customer appreciated the personal commitment very much – and placed further orders!

Kurtz Ersa Zhuhai Factory: Sam Ho, General Manager
During the pandemic, Zhuhai sold a complex soldering machine with automation system to Hong Kong. It was planned to be commissioned by the service team from Shenzhen. Due to quarantine regulations in mainland China and Hong Kong, our technical manager in Zhuhai activated his know-how as a service technician (first job at Kurtz Ersa) and commissioned the machine with remote support from our service team. Again, a way was found to overcome difficult situations and Kurtz Ersa once again proved its reliability in terms of customer support.

 
 
 

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