Looking ahead to 2021: part 1
26 March, 2021
By now, hearing that 2020 has been a challenging year will not come a surprise anymore. Nevertheless, it is a statement that is very true indeed, also for us. That’s why we would like to take the opportunity to look back on 2020 while also providing our forecast for 2021 for some of our plants around the world. And who better to do that than our very own plant managers. In this first part we go to Romania, Germany and China.
First stop: Romania
We start our global round table in Alba, Romania where our colleagues from VCST have seen a mixed year. First of all, there was the lockdown that caused the plant to temporarily shut its doors in April, May, and the first part of June 2020. Ioan Lupu only became plant manager in July and thus faced the added challenge of a pandemic along with his own bedding-in process. Nevertheless, Ioan has been able to put together a strong and capable team who have done well in guiding VCST Alba through the crisis. For that, a heartfelt thank you goes out to everyone at VCST Alba for their continuous efforts in this trying time.
For 2021, the expectation is to continue the strong trend that had been buidling towards the end of 2020. “As long as we know the expectations, we understand the obstacles, we create a positive enviroment and we are focused on the real problems, there is no other option left than to be a winning team, and my personal belief is that we have in Alba everithing we need to reach this goal.”, says plant manager Ioan Lupu.
Next up: Germany
For VCST Reichenbach too, 2020 has been a year full of challenges. First, the plant was forced to close 5 weeks in total as companies all over Europe were shutting down temporarily. Towards the end of the year, however, there was a big increase in demand from their main customer which allowed them to finish the year better than expected. Also, 2020 was the best year for VCST Reichenbach in terms of the Customer performance as PPM rate and No. of incidents remained very low.
For 2021 and the further immediate future, there is definite optimism among our German colleagues. “While it wasn’t easy, we have recovered well from the crisis and we are forward- looking to a revitalized automotive market in Europe”, says plant manager Andreas Gebhardt. To keep and further extend the flexibility in our German operations, we hope to secure nominations for a new project for valve bodies (see attached pictures of 3 D models below) in compact and integrated brake systems. This project is aimed towards highly automated braking and could potentially play an important role for VCST Reichenbach in the future. As we acquire new projects, we will also prepare our people for the challenges of working with and for new technologies. Judging by their enthusiasm, however, this will go smoothly and in collaboration with our global engineering. Aside from that, 2021 will also cause for celebration as our Reichenbach plant is going to celebrate its 20th anniversary in May 2021. Almost at the same time we will have produced our 70th million valve block for break components for our customer.
Optimism in China
In 2020, our plant in Changzhou, China had a sales result of 20% above the forecasted budget. Our Chinese colleagues were the first to experience the consequences of the new coronavirus spreading rapidly, but by the end of the first quarter, activity was already picking up and the recovery in China was made quicker than expected. That meant we were able to keep working hard throughout the rest of the year and achieve a very positive result that has us looking excitedly towards the future.
Looking far ahead is difficult in these special times, but our colleagues in Changzhou can already look back on a very positive first quarter of 2021. Further goals for this year include attracting new business for our automotive line so that we can further diversify our customer base. For our rail line, the focus is on allowing the business to grow further and gain more experience to achieve a stable production.
To read more about the challenges of 2020 and the opportunities for 2021, be sure to read part two in two weeks where we look at Belgium, the US and India.