Innovation at first hand
Selected students of textile machinery engineering and scientific staff of the Hochschule Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences visited the textile machinery manufacturer Schlafhorst in Übach-Palenberg in January 2014. Their tour itinerary included the innovative technologies, machinery and automation solutions of Schlafhorst. Above all, however, the students were interested in the unique innovation management of the market and technology leader.
In its new Technology Center, Schlafhorst presented its portfolio of products extending from the roving to the process-optimised package and explained to the budding textile engineers what the key aspects of customer-oriented product development were.
The students learned how the company gets innovations ready for market launch with reference among other things to the rotor motor of the revolutionary Autocoro 8 rotor spinning machine with its completely autonomous spinning units. The development of new technologies at Schlafhorst follows a logical and systematic path with clear objectives: innovations by the company should improve machine efficiency and the benefit to the customer.
This guiding principle of innovation management was in evidence throughout the students' visit. Many customer-oriented innovation highlights with which Schlafhorst is meeting the demands of the dynamic textile markets at an early stage attracted particular interest. Zinser in particular, with the most innovative and efficient compact spinning technology on the market, and the drumless PreciFX technology on the Autoconer X5 automatic package winder made a big impression on the students.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Karl Koltze of the Hochschule Niederrhein in Krefeld was enthusiastic about the in-depth insight into its innovation management offered by Schlafhorst. "The visit showed the students the basic conditions that are required to be able to implement technical innovations in practice. Outstanding engineering achievements, decades of experience, uncompromising customer orientation and a practised culture of innovation lay the foundations for sustained success in the world textile markets."
His students were also fascinated by how motivating the complex work of the engineers can be in practice. One student expressed it thus: "Now I understand the pride of the employees in Schlafhorst's products – a pride that is tangible in all departments, from R&D and production right up to assembly."
For Schlafhorst, close links with research and scientific facilities take a high priority. The training of engineers in a cooperative partnership with the Hochschule Niederrhein has proved highly positive. Schlafhorst offers the students interesting work placements and gives them support in producing their degree dissertations.