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MOTION AND DRIVES 02 Eight new honing machines were purchased in Chicago last year 03 Test benches as far as the eye can see usually convinces our customers of our quality and performance.” Most of the time the focus lies on certain functions that are being improved. Last year, HydraForce went a step further and replaced the entire hydraulic system of a telescopic handler with its own solutions and components. The result was a prototype that illustrates everything HydraForce can implement when it comes to solutions that can change the world – as stated in the company vision. The working hydraulics, with independent metering and decentralized components, help the machine to reduce fuel consumption and CO 2 emissions. The required construction space was also reduced. Machines can have a smaller and lighter design while still achieving the same performance levels, explains David Dornbach. In this respect, the components from the American valve specialist have in fact at least changed future machines and thus to a certain extent our working environment. Delivery capacity = Customer satisfaction Change of scene: I have now arrived at the production plant just a few kilometers away, where Jim Brizzolara, one of the company’s founders and the current CEO, is taking me on a tour through production. At the start of 2017, incoming orders at HydraForce shot through the roof at a rate that nobody had expected. Uncertain whether this was simply a brief peak in demand or a general trend, the cartridge valve experts initially waited before deciding after three months to increase production in accordance with demand. This resulted in a restructure and massive investments. In Chicago, production was expanded into the 7900 m 2 unused floorspace in the Innovation and Technology Center with additional capacity for the highest demand valve products. Additionally, two new manifold assembly lines, and new incoming quality control facilities were added to the ITC. Eight new honing machines, bringing the total to 38, were added to the main factory in floor space cleared by facilities moved to the ITC. More than USD 60 million was invested globally including the addition of about 300 new staff. Why were all of these changes implemented? Jim Brizzolara explained it all during our tour along the production lines. “The customer is our main focus. As long as our customers are happy, then we are doing well. This means that we must be able to deliver when the orders come in. Thankfully, we are very flexible when it comes to production and can react quickly to changes. We never want to complain about too many orders.” Delivery reliability means that HydraForce fulfils valve orders as quickly as possible and sometimes within 24 hours when inventory is available. When it comes to manifolds, Brizzolara cannot give me a definitive number as the orders vary greatly. It must be noted that all orders are customer-specific orders. Lively family atmosphere Jim Brizzolara is well beyond the (German) age for retirement. Nonetheless, he is still heavily involved in day-to-day business and knows every process and practically every employee by their name – and there are 880 employees at the plant in Chicago (globally Hydra- Force employs 1 700 staff). A fact that contributes to the success of the company. The company’s values are demonstrated by the founder on a daily basis – everyone can see that he is still actively involved at the plant. This is also one of the principles at HydraForce, as the company’s founder explained to us: “Back then, I created a business plan. The fundamental pillars are our vision and mission statement. However, respecting our employees is also of the upmost importance. If possible, we would like our employees to stay with us until their retirement. They have company shares and are thus directly involved in the success of the company.” And this concept seems to be a success: Staff turnover is below two percent. I can certainly believe that as throughout my trip I get the feeling that everyone I meet really does enjoy working for HydraForce. They really do seem to have achieved the so-called family atmosphere at the workplace. Employees are friendly and respectful to one another. This is certainly a factor that contributes to the company’s maxim of supplying the best possible quality. Long-term employees who feel respected and valued are another piece to the puzzle when looking for reasons behind the aboveaverage success of the hydraulic valve producer. Quality – The ultimate benchmark The CEO then clarifies the importance of quality at HydraForce with an anecdote from when the company first started out. “We imposed this high quality standard on ourselves from the very start. However, we also wanted to spread this idea outside the company and provide proof, as words can be hollow. So we requested to be tested in accordance with the Ford Q1 standard. At the end of the 1980s this was the ultimate benchmark. The auditors spent a few days at our plant and at the end they were very surprised. They were able to certify us on the very first audit. This was a rare occurrence back then,” explains Brizzolara. Nowadays different quality standards are required, although nothing has changed when it comes to the requirements – all of the HydraForce locations are certified in accordance with international quality management standard ISO 9001:2008. Customers – quality – employees. In my opinion these are the three pillars on which the success of HydraForce is based. As long as these three values are nurtured and cherished, there is strong evidence to indicate that the company will continue its growth trajectory in future. 30 WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 5/2018

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