»It began with wobbly cable lugs«

User portrait Horlemann Automation & IT

Many companies in the electrical trade face the same challenges: competition and a lack of skilled staff necessitate flexibility and new ideas. How to grow successfully with quality products and expertise even in an increasingly complex business segment, is shown in the portrayal of the cooperation between the Horlemann Group and Klauke.

From the Lower Rhine province to the entire world: Horlemann at Uedem near the Dutch border has consistently extended and expanded its business segments in recent decades. Today, diverse energy solutions are created here e.g. transformer station construction for large industrial corporations and energy suppliers, automation solutions for the food industry or worldwide, mobile power supply for the football world championships for instance. Horlemann combines eight different business units on around 70,000 m² of space at its corporate facilities: besides electrical components, automated as well as mobile energy solutions, the company is also strong in building materials as well as in pipe and plant construction.

Solutions from a single source

This diversity has proven to be a competitive advantage since many services from planning to implementation, installation and maintenance build on one another. The company has been a part of Vinci Energies Deutschland and its energy infrastructure brand Omexom for about one year now. “Our various business segments supplement one another perfectly so we are able to offer companies and municipalities many projects from a single source”, explains Thomas Willems, CEO at Horlemann Automation & IT GmbH.

Willems manages one of the youngest, yet at the same time most important core businesses of the corporate group: around one-fifth of the 500 staff at the location are employed in the growth sector Automation & IT. Here, everything from a small measurement cabinet to a “turnkey” overall solution for entire business segments can be implemented. In this respect Horlemann itself works with a very high degree of automation and is constantly on the look-out for optimization potential, right down to the very last details.  

“Our quality commitment sets us apart from the competition”, says Thomas Willems, “but we can only maintain this commitment, of course, when we exclusively use quality products.” So only brand-name products from reputable manufacturers can be used, products that satisfy international standards and carry corresponding certifications: the connection technology for example throughout the entire corporate group has always been provided by Klauke.

Connectors on the test stand

In the meantime, close cooperation has developed between the manufacturer and user: “It began with wobbly cable lugs”, remembers Michael Aymans, responsible for customized planning of switchgear (computer-aided engineering). Several fitters talked to him about cable lugs, saying that despite correct cross-section allocation, they would not hold and stay fixed on the corresponding cables. Aymans started to search for the root cause and quickly found out that there was great variance in the cables, even between different batches from the same manufacturer: “Connection technology is perhaps only a small, but still very decisive component in a control cabinet. Of course, »fix it somehow« is always an option, but that is quite out of the question for us.”

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the electrical installations, Aymans directly contacted Klauke about the problem:  
There, the company’s own application technologists pull-tested all the connections used by Horlemann, checked all tools and then came up with specific recommendations for the optimum combination of conductor, connector and tool. After a two-week internal practical test, Aymans ultimately changed all processing tools to Klauke products: “Now the connectors and tools fit perfectly to one another. Klauke has provided us with an assurance for these connections and that is the peace of mind that we in turn pass on to our customers.”

 

Training provides confidence

To ensure that the entire team felt confident in handling the system, Klauke provided comprehensive training sessions at the Horlemann facility. Besides explaining the fundamental differences between various classes of conductors, particularly those connectors used by Horlemann and their specific design were the subject of such sessions. To make sure that new colleagues could work quickly and dependably from the very outset, Aymans subsequently put together some individual training material. Thanks to the support from Klauke’s application technology center, these documents are regularly updated and developed.

Successful close alliance

The Klauke system has meanwhile been established at Horlemann Automation & IT for three years. In a next step of cooperation, it will be examined whether the system can be used in other business units: not least of all against the background of Horlemann’s integration into Omexom. Thomas Willems sees a distinct competitive advantage in the combination of direct cooperation with important manufacturers and C-part logistics operations by wholesalers: “Our business is becoming increasingly faster and more international. When everything runs smoothly and we can rely on the planning, procurement and assembly of the tested and established systems, it will enable us to manage the balancing act between individual configurations for our customers and, at the same time, high output.”

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