The bridge builder
An inside look: Rainer Wegener, Head of the Sales Management Center and member of the management team at STÖBER Antriebstechnik
At STOBER, a system comprised of a gear unit, motor, cable and drive controller is a clear factor for success: interfaces are reduced and responsibilities are combined. To that end, the drive specialist has brought together expertise from the Mechanics and Electronics departments in order to implement perfect motion. The key requirement for this was the systematic networking of both professions and the utilization of the synergies and potentials that arise. And this task was able to be accomplished with Rainer Wegener, Head of the Sales Management Center and member of the management team, at the helm.
Pforzheim, 2021-12-13 – Can the STOBER system also be a success factor for STOBER as a company? For Rainer Wegener, this is obvious. “Absolutely! Reducing interfaces and combining responsibilities has long been a trend in mechanical engineering. In this process, however, it is extremely important to set the remaining interfaces correctly – not at the limits of technology, as is often the case. If you get all your electronics from one supplier and all your mechanical systems from another, you are wasting performance. STOBER, with its decades of experience in gear units, motors and electronics, offers mechatronic expertise in order to implement perfect motion – from a single source. One supplier generally cannot cover this range.”
The STOBER expert is well-versed in interfaces. As a member of the management team and the head of the Sales Management Center department, he is responsible for all departments with direct customer contact. This includes traditional sales as well as shipping, service or support departments. “This way, we can manage all touchpoints optimally, be coordinated and focused on our customers, advising them seamlessly over the customer journey.”
The path to STOBER
Wegener is a skilled electrical systems installer and trained electrical engineer. His career started at a corporation working in drive technology. This was exciting, as he worked with a variety of applications and got insights into many different industries. Along the way, he graduated with a degree in engineering management, thus having received the necessary tools for his later managerial duties. Despite the valuable experiences he was able to gather at the company, he quickly realized that, with the long decision-making paths of the large company and corporate structures, he could not participate actively or change, shape or initiate anything. He was given the opportunity to join a medium-sized, family-run company and take on a more proactive role. “I was immediately impressed by STOBER,” he says. That was more than 20 years ago. In particular, the values from the company’s mission statement, like empathy, teamwork and striving for perfection, embodied by employees on all levels, impressed the young engineer.
Wegener got to know many welcoming colleagues at STOBER. In particular, Dieter Marner, who has recently retired, left a lasting impression on him. As a service engineer, he embodied the customer orientation of the company like no other. He was available for customers at all times; for him, no task was too difficult or too much. And then there is the managing partner, Patrick Stöber. “It was he who transferred the responsibility for global sales to me, even though I didn’t have any international experience and only modest English skills at the time,” says Wegener. “He always assured me that I could make a difference and change things in order to drive sales.”
When Wegener started as head of sales for Germany in 2001, STOBER was still earning two thirds of its sales within the country. The first foreign markets were being developed; product developments were heavily geared toward the German market. Gradually, however, STOBER developed into an international group and a global player – growing from a supplier of largely mechanical components into a system provider with a focus on highly precise and dynamic servo technology.
“The user receives a complete system from us, comprised of geared motors, cables and drive controllers,” describes Wegener. In terms of cables, we have just launched the next generation of our One Cable Solution. Thanks to the future-proof HEIDENHAIN EnDat® 3 protocol, the new hybrid cable can reliably connect motors and drive controllers at a distance of up to 50 meters without chokes. Probably the only one on the whole market.
“The STOBER system also has an electronic nameplate, which enables automatic installation.” In combination with the STOBER electronics, each geared motor automatically sends its electronically and mechanically relevant data to the associated drive controller via plug-and-play during commissioning. As a result, the geared motors are uniquely identified. Parameterization takes place in the customer’s language.
Engineers benefit along the whole line with this system solution. Direct attachment makes an additional adapter unnecessary, for example. Users receive a compact system with process reliability from a single source – a system that is precisely tailored to their task. In addition, there are significantly higher input speeds in the gear unit. This enables the motor to be operated beyond its nominal point in the field weakening range – in other words, more power with the same size.
Internalizing the system concept
Every STOBER consultant is an expert in both the electrical and mechanical system for their customers. “We often find that our employees transport valuable insights and information between the two departments,” says Wegener. “As a result, they contribute to optimizing the customer’s system.”
“Of course, reservations needed to be broken down in order to thoroughly implement the system concept,” says Wegener. People do not always speak the same language. To that end, there were what were called lighthouse projects: various departments worked together to develop an electrical circuit board for a two-speed gearbox that was previously purely mechanical. “Up to that point, we had different development processes for Mechanics and Electronics,” explains Wegener. “Moving them over to a common process contributed substantially to understanding and their trust in the capabilities of the respective departments.” Ultimately, of course, this also serves the customer.
Today, it is clear that system sellers also have to provide system support. For this purpose, STOBER has combined all product consultants from individual departments into System Support. If the customer asks a question about a gear unit, the cable or another product from the drive specialist, they receive competent consultation from the new System Support. “Employees have different core skills, but they are in direct conversation with their colleagues from the respective specialist departments,” says Wegener. “This lets us ensure that the expert considers the system beyond the actual question at hand and recognizes potential for optimization.”
The STOBER expert sees predictive maintenance as a major opportunity, but also as a challenge at the same time. “We know the system load from the system responsibility.” The drive controller also collects load data and operating hours and uses them to calculate a possible bearing failure of the gear unit. Dimensioning can also be checked in real-time operation and adapted for new machines.
The topic of machine safety is also becoming more important. Through intelligent solutions, STOBER can implement a safely-limited speed (SLS) without elaborate and expensive safety encoders. “That is only possible, however, if the responsibility for the complete drive train rests in a single source,” Wegener emphasizes.
Promoting the next generation
What does that look like in concrete terms? As part of its youth development program, STOBER promotes for example the Rennschmiede Pforzheim, an initiative of the Hochschule Pforzheim college, with its electrically powered race car. The drive specialist provided that entire drive train and helped the students with its ample expertise. “That is an exception for us,” says Wegener. “We otherwise only bring machines on tour.”
Media contact, editing / market reviews (NEW):
STÖBER Antriebstechnik GmbH + Co. KG
Kieselbronner Str. 12
Phone: +49 7231 582-1460
STÖBER Antriebstechnik GmbH + Co. KG
Kieselbronner Str. 12
Phone: +49 7231 582-1183
Photo credits: STÖBER Antriebstechnik GmbH + Co. KG