Industry meeting in Thuringia with useful information and insider tips

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Coffee break in the laboratory

The coffee break offered the opportunity for informal talk and a visit of the Laboratory of Applied Plastics Technology. Professor Thomas Seul, whose second function is President of the German Association for Tool and Mould Makers, offered a tour during which he explained the measuring equipment at AKT. One project is committed to examining poisonous changes in plastic materials that have been handled wrongly during the injection process. By injecting the material into living cells, the team of researchers around Professor Seul find out which mistakes in processing the plastic material lead to cells dying.

A captivating part of the programme was the panel debate. Five professionals discussed the opportunities and risks of internationalisation. The debate was led by Susanne Schröder, editor of the German magazine "Form und Werkzeug". The main topic was how companies can identify interesting markets and how they can find customers and co-operation partners in foreign countries. The debaters had very different backgrounds when it came to working internationally: From Schneider Form, a company that expanded internationally in 2001 and has subsidiaries in England, Portugal and China, for example, to Triwefo, which has not yet taken the leap to internationalisation. Also part of the discussion were Andreas Sutter, head of marketing at Meurburger, and Professor Seul. In the end, all participants agreed that internationalisation is a chance for German companies.

Talking about how to find the way into new markets, Andreas Sutter said: "The country-specific associations, as well as Istma as the global association, are a good resource to find out the requirements of a specific market."

Franz Tschacha explained why, in his opinion, German companies are not that present on the global market: "One problem of German manufacturers is that – because of history and tradition – they are strongly clinging to thinking regionally." Professor Seul added that other countries, Portugal, for example, could serve as role models by exporting the majority of production. According to Seul, associations like VDWF can help companies in getting an insight into markets like the US and Mexico – two very interesting markets at the moment.

When speaking about disadvantages, Dr Schneider brought up another important consideration. Speaking from experience, he said that every manufacturer has to find the balance between innovation capacity on one side and globalisation and export on the other: "It is obvious that expanding into other markets costs energy and workforce, which consequently is missing in the development of core business areas."

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Tschacha pointed out one of the big advantages of relying on several pillars instead of only one: "Being present on diverse markets offers the chance that business is not subject to the economical fluctuations of only one country."

Concluding the discussion, Klaus Lemke, CEO of Triwefo, admitted that he considers it important to observe possible target markets. In his opinion, co-operation is an important factor when operating internationally.