28 Jan 2020
Josef Schmid, CEO of ELPRO, talks in this elproINTERVIEW about his first 100 days leading the company, challenges and opportunities, and how he would like to align ELPRO in the future.
You have been CEO of ELPRO for 100 days. What has kept you busy the most over these past three months?
Before I became CEO of ELPRO, I managed the company's financial affairs as CFO for almost ten years. Those were already intensive years. As CEO, however, I have had to deal with a much broader range of issues from day one. I am much more in the center, on the front line, so to speak, and have to make decisions in line with the expectations of all stakeholders.
A large part of my current responsibilities have to do with our acquisition by Bosch Service Solutions in 2022. We are in the middle of the post-merger integration up until September. Bringing this process to a successful completion is a really big task for me. Time and again, it's about talking to employees, taking concerns seriously and resolving them, pointing out advantages and opportunities, and making it clear that our entire team will grow successfully together with Bosch Service Solutions. All in all, this is a very exciting time for all of us.
What challenges is ELPRO currently facing?
The speed at which our industry is developing and changing technologically is enormous. Software-based solutions are becoming increasingly important. Both we and our customers recognize the opportunities and possibilities that this creates. At the same time, however, our customers also want consistency. This is because the effort involved in changes, for example due to validation requirements, is huge. We therefore have to think carefully about the pace at which we offer our customers new or modified solutions. It is a balancing act that is not always easy.
Another big topic for us is growth. We want to expand existing markets and open up new ones. Our main focus is on Europe, the USA, and Asia. We want to open further ELPRO sites, for example in Japan and South Korea. We will also offer our customers extended services. This includes Monitoring as a Service. Our customers do not have to buy hardware or software, but can take advantage of our service providing end-to-end GxP-compliant environmental monitoring of their temperature-sensitive products during storage and shipping.
Further challenges arise for us here, as we are convinced that growth must be achieved in a manner that is resource-efficient and is sustainable. In my opinion, however, we are already well on track here. At ELPRO, we have set up a reliably functioning process for the reuse of data loggers or individual components and raw materials. In addition, when we develop new devices, we ensure that they have repeated and extended use, thanks to improved battery life. In our solutions, we also rely on state-of-the-art technologies to ensure the longest possible service life.
Where do you see opportunities for ELPRO?
With growth rates of eight to ten percent, our industry offers enormous potential. In addition to entering new markets, we therefore want to greatly expand existing markets with expanded services, among other things. Monitoring as a Service, which I mentioned earlier, is one of these. With this service, our customers only have to pay for the service - pay per use, so to speak. Our employees handle the complete monitoring of the shipments, whether at room temperature, refrigerated, frozen, on dry ice or in cryogenic containers. We find the right monitoring solution for every application and provide the necessary data loggers, software tools, and services worldwide. At the receiving site, ELPRO picks up the equipment again. During the entire transport, our employees provide support with technical or application questions, shipment monitoring, and evaluation of the measurement data. If deviations are indicated, the control tower can pre-qualify, notify, escalate and, if necessary, intervene around the clock.
The cooperation with Bosch Service Solutions is very valuable for us in this regard. Bosch has a large network of already established companies worldwide that either support us in setting up new locations and hubs or provide us with their local experts. We are also very grateful that Bosch is a parent company with a very good reputation in the market worldwide.
As CEO of ELPRO, how will you align the company in the future?
Ever since ELPRO has been on the market, we have been reinventing ourselves again and again as an innovation leader. Be it with our PDF data loggers for products in transit, with which we have set an industry standard, or thanks to the intelligent electronic LIBERO ITS indicators, which allow continuous temperature monitoring and calculation of stability budgets of pharmaceutical products or clinical trials along the entire supply chain. With our latest generation of data loggers, we now been relying on real-time monitoring of position, temperature, and humidity via IoT technology. And in the near future, we plan to implement predictive analytics in our software solutions.
As CEO, I would like to follow this path of innovation leadership. In our hardware and software solutions, as well as in our services, I want to invest more in sustainability and new technologies that help our customers become even more efficient and secure through process automation. To this end, we can rely on two innovation hubs: our site in Switzerland and a second one in Hungary, where we have placed the emphasis on software development.
What concerns you most as you look ahead to the next 100 days?
The integration into Bosch Service Solutions will keep us busy until September. Many colleagues are involved in this major task. I am convinced that we will successfully reach the last milestones by September and successfully complete the integration into the Bosch world.