11 questions to sites

ElringKlinger considers the diversity, the creativity, and the multiple talents, interests, and skills of its employees to be a particular strength. Discover the true scale of diversity by reading the responses given to 11 questions directed at team members working at 11 ElringKlinger sites worldwide.


What is driving progress in China?

I have been living in Changchun for 19 years, and working as a finance controller for Changchun ElringKlinger Ltd. for 18 years. In recent years I moved house to the south-east of the city. Doubling in size, CEK moved to the north-east of the city. In Changchun, we are experiencing rapid development. Last year, an extended highway was built near my residence; a new highway to the southernmost point of Changchun is currently under construction. A highway network 84.5 km in length has been completed within two years and eight months, while a new National Wetland Park spanning 12 km2 was also established in the north of Changchun within three years. Travel time from Changchun to Beijing has been cut by more than five hours. Only in China can you see such a speed of development. The economy means a great deal to people here: our children are getting a more diversified education while our parents and grandparents are benefitting from improved pensions and medical care. Domestic consumption and investment in capital construction, and the manufacturing industry are playing important key roles in the development of the economy.


„Savoir vivre“ can be interpreted as a French approach to life which is both positive and life-affirming – something we can all use in these challenging times. So what do you think – has this way of thinking helped you to cope with the difficulties caused by covid-19?

The thing that has really impressed me in the two years since the outbreak of covid has been the fighting spirit of all employees of ElringKlinger France, not just in terms of integrating new products and processes at the Nantiat and Chamborêt sites, but also in keeping them operational. All of this had to be achieved in a highly complex public health environment involving lockdowns, part-time hours and so forth. We regarded these projects as an opportunity – one which we seized in order to bring about improvements. To do this we exploited as many existing processes as we could, especially in the flow of materials to workshops, workstation ergonomics, safety and working conditions in general. Team members displayed great solidarity in sticking to project timetables; they had the courage of their convictions to perform everyday tasks aimed at minimizing the risk of infection for the good of all – daily disinfecting of shared equipment in production areas and offices, testing, isolation. In short, people drew on a well of French-style creativity and solidarity to reconcile and achieve their goals with maximum effectiveness.


Ambition and passion have seen you (as a mountaineer) climb a number of peaks. What parallels can you draw in the mountains to your everyday work at ElringKlinger?

Whether in my hobby or my job, ambition and passion serve the same goal: to be successful. To get there, you need expertise, willpower, leadership qualities, precise planning, and flexible implementation in the goals you set. But the most important thing is to have a proficient group in which everyone can trust the others 100 percent. Repairing a plant is no different: the dangers to life and limb are considerable in both cases and require expertise and care. When a tour is rewarded with a summit reached together in spite of adverse conditions and effort, the sense of achievement cannot be greater. In the same way, I rejoice with my team when a job is successfully completed. But the mountains also make you humble, opening your eyes to great expanses and new goals.


The life of a site depends on its employees. What is the main factor behind the strong sense of togetherness in Bursa?

I am 26 years old and I was born in Bursa. My parents are originally from Bulgaria; they still have a house there and often visit their home country. I have been working at ElringKlinger Turkey since 2018 and regard the company as part of my family. A good team recognizes, appreciates, and harnesses the strengths of each individual. Everyone must be willing to do something outside their area of responsibility. This is the only way to achieve overarching goals and develop team spirit. Effective communication among employees is very important, too. A sense of belonging to the company increases in a collaborative working environment, not a competitive environment. Shared responsibility also means tackling problems together. Doing and acting together in harmony, on the basis of common goals and visions, helps to create a sense of togetherness. Joint activities, joint projects, joint tasks, joint responsibility.


India is a large and populous country with great opportunities in a changing and challenging world. What factors will enable us to exploit these chances, particularly in the automotive industry?

Given that millions of people are expected to relocate to cities by 2030, rapid urbanization is one factor driving the demand for mobility. Rising income also plays a major role as more young people and women enter the working and consuming class by 2025. An increasing working population and an expanding middle class have also been the key demand drivers for automobiles in India. Government initiatives aimed at promoting manufacturing in India, production-based and design-linked incentives to extend financial support to manufacturers, and gradual increases in road development to improve connectivity between the country’s cities, towns, and villages have all combined to boost demand for cars and other vehicles. Other government schemes include the transition to electric vehicles, a voluntary vehicle fleet modernization program, reductions across the cost structure of the Indian automobile industry, a target reduction in the carbon footprint of 33 - 35% by 2030, and more. Given the huge population, there are numerous opportunities in various industrial sectors – and particularly the automotive industry.


Based in Japan, ElringKlinger Marusan has a very long history within the ElringKlinger Group. What motivates you to work for a Europe-based automotive supplier?

As regards our internal policy, we encourage diversity and the work-life balance. Many employees of ElringKlinger Marusan are from other Asian countries. We also provide environments such as entertainment events and a wide range of training options. Our motto is to ‘’take chances by challenging, without fear of change.” As we enter a new era of great change, ElringKlinger Marusan in Japan is facing up to the mega trend of the transition from the internal combustion engine to the electric vehicle, thereby focusing on new ElringKlinger products manufactured through innovations in AI/Cobot technology.


What does “sustainability” mean to you?

Sustainability means not only environmental protection but also social responsibility and community. At the age of 45, I got my job opportunity in this industry. Despite the communication difficulties – we are ten deaf colleagues – I perceive the effort of the whole company to incorporate us. The deep concern of others, as in the way the workstation is kept clean and organized for the next shift, is also apparent. Consideration and respect is another form of sustainability to me which I learned from Elring Klinger do Brasil Ltda. I really like working here! I would therefore stress that sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising future generations. This also means social diversity and equality, especially so that historically underprivileged people can be included in a more egalitarian social environment.


How does mobility in China differ from other regions of the world?

It is well known that China has quickly emerged as the world’s largest mobility market. Automotive, technological, and e-commerce innovations are rapidly converging in unexpected ways. More and more people are opting for private cars for their daily transportation, partly out of safety concerns in view of covid-19. The average commuting time is nearly one hour each way during the rush hour, which causes significant automobile exhaust pollution. The government has introduced a series of policies, including improvements to the public transportation infrastructure, subsidies, and zero plate restrictions for new energy vehicles, well-equipped charging stations, support for 5G technology development, and so on. To save on fuel costs, and attracted by the implementation of these policies, more new energy vehicles are appearing on the road. Speaking of which, a few words on payment methods for urban public transportation. Today passengers can simply swipe smart phones to take a bus or metro, share a bike or car by scanning a QR code, and use a sophisticated e-hailing platform – which means goodbye to wallets, cash, and bank cards. This trend has revolutionized and facilitated mobility for people in China.


Can you imagine driving only with an all-electric vehicle (EV) in your region today?

Absolutely. There are more and more all-electric vehicles on the road, especially in cities and tourist areas. With raising environmental awareness, cities are offering more public spaces to recharge EVs, and some businesses offer this service for their clients. At Elring Klinger, S.A.U., we have a charging station for visitors who drive an EV to the site. At the same time, technological improvements to long-range batteries are boosting the use of EVs. The main challenge is the infrastructure outside of cities, where more charging points are needed. It’s challenging to change public opinion, where the reliability of EVs in everyday life is constantly questioned. Given the growing interest in EVs, however, we are moving closer to large-scale use.


What will mobility in the US look like in ten years? Do you expect to see regional differences?

I am really curious to see how mobility in the US changes over the next ten years. Many expect the large cities on the east and west coasts to move towards public transportation driven by electric or solar power; there will be ride sharing, and families in these areas will likely own electric vehicles. More rural areas may take longer to convert because the infrastructure outside the cities will require major investment and more time to adapt to mobility changes. We are already experiencing the transition to electric vehicles across the country, a trend that will gather pace as new technologies, applications, and vehicles continue to evolve. This also has the potential to revolutionize the way goods are moved from A to B throughout the supply chain. New products and innovations will create both opportunities and challenges for the industry.


Global supply chains are coming under greater pressure year after year. What does that mean for your site?

Here at ElringKlinger Mexico, where we have a high percentage of imported material from outside of the Americas, we are disadvantaged in the form of freight and container shortages. There is a risk to the on-time material supplies needed to accomplish our corporate and customer commitments. We have reached the stage where digitalization and mobility are the keys to finding the ideal formula to adapt in a new environment that demands speed, flexibility, and efficiency. The question is: are we prepared? Our supply chain strategies must focus on teamwork and collaboration with EK facilities to share key inventories. We need to adopt a solid strategy of supplier relocation, flexible commercial agreements, and exchanges of best practice. The way to face these challenges is to seek out different strategies involving our immediate environment and explore alternatives where the talent and experience of our supply chain and foreign trade team come into play. One such strategy will be the implementation of consignment warehouses; inventory localization and freight cost reduction will be a key focus. We have the team with the talent and experience needed to confront this challenge together!