According to experts, in order to counter climate change, we must fully exploit alternative sources of energy. Wind turbines are symbols of the turnaround in energy policy. Enercon is one of the largest manufacturers of wind turbines. Bernard Krone met the Managing Director Simon-Hermann Wobben at its head office in Aurich.
Wind turbines utilise the power of nature: Mr Wobben, what do you personally find so fascinating about the power of the wind? Simon-Hermann Wobben: Wind is one of the largest – and at times unpredictable – forces of nature on this planet. So I find it even more impressive that we can control this enormous power with our technology and use a large number of people to sustainably produce and supply energy globally.
Mr Krone, what potential do you see in alternative energies for the transport industry? Bernard Krone: The potential is undoubtedly big, and I am sure that we will see some interesting innovations here over the coming years. For example, we are working on a research project looking into the extent to which recovered braking energy can be used to operate energy consumers on the trailer. A refrigerated semitrailer which operates on the principle of energy recovery, otherwise known as recuperation, has also been developed. Another topic is, of course, the electrically driven tractor unit. That is also an exciting approach, just like the hydrogen combustion engine. And last but not least, there are even attempts to use wind power in the shipping industry by attaching computerdriven towing kites to cargo vessels, which then also pull the ship in addition to the motor.
»We offer our employees a high level of creative freedom with a lot individual responsibility.«
What does Enercon as a company draw strength from and how is it maintained? Simon-Hermann Wobben: At 33 years of age, Enercon is a relatively young family business. Even today, our company culture is still heavily characterised by the company’s founder, my uncle, Dr. Aloys Wobben, and his vision of “energy for the world”. His life’s work is continued by the Aloys Wobben Foundation founded in 2012, which secures the long-term independence and continued existence of the company. Right from the start, however, our well-qualified and motivated employees have been the key factor in this. We therefore continually invest in their education and training and in designing an ultra-modern workplace. We also offer our employees a high level of creative freedom with a lot individual responsibility; at Enercon, you can try things out. That promotes motivation and a spirit of innovation among the employees, which ultimately benefits both the company and our products.
What do you personally draw strength from? What makes you strong in your commitment as an employer? Simon-Hermann Wobben: I personally see it as a privilege to be actively involved in such an elementary issue as energy supply and production and to constantly grow with the challenges we face – of which there are many in the wind power industry at the moment. Of course, that brings with it a lot of responsibility; but it also gives you the energy and motivation to continue addressing the diverse issues. It is also important to maintain a good work-life balance; I like to spend my free time at the weekends in the beautiful Emsland.
What does the Krone Group draw strength from? Bernard Krone: One particular strength is our innovative capacity. If you want to be right at the forefront of developments, then you have to be in close communication with the customers and listen to what they need. You do also need a solid capital base of course. Krone has always been very well positioned here. To continue this in the future, we believe in consistent controlling and regularly questioning whether what we are doing is right, both from a strategical and a financial point of view.
How do you feel Krone’s strength in your daily work? Bernard Krone: I get really excited by the extraordinary loyalty of our customers and our employees. Many of our customers, and employees too, have remained loyal to Krone over several generations. Each day, customers come to visit our production sites from all over the world when they order or collect vehicles. And their positive feedback about our ultra-modern and professional manufacturing further encourages us in our strategy.
»We are increasingly in demand as a mobility service provider.«
Enercon and Krone are family businesses: What strengths does that reflect for you? Simon-Hermann Wobben: As the management team in a family business, we have a particular responsibility to maintain in the long-term what has already been developed and we are also responsible for our employees. We therefore concentrate on what we do best: developing and producing the most technically advanced and highest quality wind turbines on the market. Our independence is a key commodity in growing over the long term using our own resources and in fulfilling our responsibilities.
Bernard Krone: For Krone, responsibility is also one of its key strengths: responsibility for our customers, employees and suppliers, as well as for our environment and the region. Krone is 111 years old and is now being run by the fourth generation. And, of course, I am conscious that in a few decades time, I will be handing the business over to the next generation. Apart from that, medium-sized family companies are simply faster in their processes than large corporations, resulting in, for example, a higher level of innovation.
ABOUT SIMON-HERMANN WOBBEN
Simon-Hermann Wobben, born in 1982, is Managing Director of Enercon together with Hans-Dieter Kettwig and is responsible for the areas of production, research & development, staff, quality and HSE. Wobben studied business administration and started working at Enercon in 2002. As the nephew of the founder, Aloys Wobben, he has grown up with the company. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Aloys-Wobben Foundation since 2013.
How do your customers benefit from your strengths? Simon-Hermann Wobben: Our claim to be a leader in technology and quality is shown in the constant development of our technology. Recently, in September, we presented our new Three-Megawatt Class. Even with these new turbines, we can guarantee individual solutions for our customers that meet the highest of quality and technological standards, and market-based requirements. Due to our decentralised structures, we remain close to the customers and are always in personal contact. This enables us to act with maximum flexibility and ensure high quality standards, which our customers have relied upon for over 30 years.
Bernard Krone: Our customers want high-quality vehicles at a fair price. We are also increasingly in demand as a mobility provider: topics such as full service, connectivity and also ecological aspects are becoming more and more important. We have responded to this trend and offer professional, practical product solutions for all matters related to the trailer so that every customer can choose the right services for them. Whether financing, a fast spare parts network or full service, we are a strong partner.