The growth in demand for KHS systems and solutions lies not just in the group’s sophisticated technology made in Germany but also first and foremost in its local presence. At its subsidiary in Lagos the engineering company employs over 90 people. More than 70 of them work in After Sales, among them around 40 mechanics, electronics and automation engineers. “Our service strategy has focused on regionalization for years,” Fuchs stresses. “The number of local KHS offices has been considerably increased. And by staging intensive courses of training we’ve brought the machine expertise in Nigeria up to a level that’s more than competitive.”
In the last few years local service personnel were mostly entrusted with the maintenance of existing systems. Thanks to increasingly successful sales in the new machine business this has since changed: at the moment they’re largely occupied with the assembly, installation and commissioning of KHS plant engineering – something that’s new in the region.
This is also the case at BBC: unlike the competition, where third-party contractors are usually assigned, KHS installed the entire line using its own local employees. “We do this work ourselves and don’t contract it out to anyone else,” Fuchs proudly reports. “We had 22 KHS colleagues on our team, some recruited from Nigeria and some from Kenya.” After all, the regional principle applies to the entire African continent and both regional centers for East and Central Africa work closely together. They support each other by pooling their expertise if need be. “The only German was the site manager,” concedes Fuchs.
According to Prahlad K. Gangadharan, CEO of BBC since the beginning of 2020, this regional aspect was even the decisive factor that earned the Dortmund machine and systems manufacturer the contract. “Uncomplicated communication with the local team and assured ongoing support during operation are what spoke for KHS. For us, these are vital requirements in our cooperation,” emphasizes Prahlad.
The project thus went very smoothly – despite the short amount of time available for installation and commissioning. “We kept exactly to the agreed schedule and passed the acceptance test right off the bat,” says Fuchs. “Even on handover the required machine performance of 93% was considerably overshot.” This is also confirmed by BBC boss Prahlad, who explains, “The installation team was extremely efficient and cooperative. KHS gave us unlimited support in every respect and we mastered all challenges together as a team. We as customers were therefore at least as delighted with the finished line as the colleagues at KHS as suppliers. This experience has formed a bond between us.”
Part of the cooperation involved KHS training BBC’s engineers on the operation and maintenance of the new PET line. This was also largely carried out by African KHS service personnel – from both Nigeria and Kenya in another example of the smooth cooperation between the two service hubs. Even now that his own employees have received detailed instruction at the end of the course and are well prepared to deal with any eventualities, Prahlad never tires of stressing how great a role KHS’ local service engineers play for his company. “They’re our first point of contact and react extremely fast. For us, that’s essential.”
It’s good that the competent and highly qualified team at KHS Nigeria can satisfy this demand at all times. The service includes an extensive spare parts warehouse that has been specifically stocked with PET equipment in mind and is equipped for all requirements. “In After Sales we’re now largely independent of Germany or any other subsidiaries and can cover everything locally,” Alexander Fuchs states. “Especially during the corona crisis, with travel limited worldwide and borders closed, this strategy has paid off. We’ve been there for our customers at all times and able to react – in as far as circumstances allowed.”
The KHS benchmarking program
In 2016 KHS launched a benchmarking program, the aim of which is to strengthen the local service business at KHS subsidiaries in the various regions and promote the international exchange of best practices. Once a subsidiary has been assessed, its performance is compared each year and the evaluation updated to document the course of its development. In 2019 KHS Nigeria was best in class worldwide and even reached champion level – a status which has since been alternately bestowed on the African factory and KHS Brazil. Benchmarking is a key to success in the development and necessary change in the culture, local processes and intercompany cooperation at KHS.