A mediator between innovation and production
Patrick Witte is an independent network partner at PCV Group in Enschede – he works on behalf of the engineering company for Wavin, a global specialist in plastic pipe systems. His role it to implement product innovations in production processes. It has been a model for success, as the interim assignment, originally limited to just four months and has since been extended several times. And there’s no end in sight yet...
Implementing innovations. But what exactly does that mean? The most recent project example Patrick Witte has been involved in can provide a good answer to this. The drainage pipes in a hotel need to be as quiet as possible. But how can the sound vibrations that are triggered by a toilet flushing or shower water in the pipes, for example, be avoided? Mass must be added to the pipe system. Wavin’s Technology & Innovation Centre had already developed the required solution. “My task was to implement this innovation into production at the German Wavin plant in Twist, near Osnabrück. This required some changes in the processes. And these in turn had to be discussed and tested in detail with those responsible in production.”
The overarching challenge of his task was the fact that developers can quickly get excited about innovations, but their colleagues in production do not always share this enthusiasm. “The innovation may be very good for the user, but difficult to produce, or time-consuming to implement. In these cases, I am the mediator between the two worlds”, says Witte as he describes his task.
In principle, the customer’s wishes come first. Does the customer get real added value from the innovation? Can it save time and costs, for example? Then production has to pull out all the proverbial stops to implement the innovation. “But if it then turns out that it really doesn’t work, the product developers have to do some reworking.”
Growth and added value
During his assignment, Patrick Witte has been able to implement a number of innovations in the production environments at Wavin. But his task has been expanded. The company is currently in the midst of a global growth process. Patrick Witte is part of the team that deals with the question of how growth can be achieved, and where new production capacities should be built, for example. “A very exciting task, but one that is less related to the original mission”, says Witte.
There have been no problems when it comes to the cooperation between PCV and Wavin. “The agreement is incredibly flexible. Something like this only works on the basis of long-term trust between the companies”, Witte explains. “Now, of course, you could ask why I don’t just work directly for Wavin as a freelancer. The answer is simple – in my current position, I can draw on the extensive experience and the entire expertise of the PCV Group. This means that I can offer Wavin much more than if I were working as a ‘lone wolf’. This is precisely what makes this model work so well.”
Coffee and cycling for a good cause
However, working as a network partner for PCV Group also has a completely different aspect for Patrick Witte. In 2018, he took part in the Tour for Life for the first time. This is a 1,300 km bike ride for a good cause. The route leads from Italy through the Alps, Jura, Vosges and Ardennes, ending in the Netherlands. Participants raise money for the Daniel den Hoed-Fonds, a Dutch organisation that supports research projects to fight cancer. “It was a fantastic experience to be part of”, Witte reflects. “The only issue was that the coffee supply was not well organised along the route.”
So, that’s why his daughter came up with the following idea: If her father takes part in the tour again, she will take over the supply of coffee for the participants. And that’s where PCV Group comes in. As a specialist in dosing technology in coffee machines, the company now has its own coffee label. As such, it was only natural that PCV should sponsor the coffee for this year’s “Tour for Life”, which is scheduled to start at the end of August. And just like that, the cooperation between Patrick Witte and PCV has taken on a whole new dimension. And extends over 1,300 km through half of Europe...