Interview with Bystronic UK's new Managing Director, Paul Cooper
Prior to joining Bystronic I have worked in the machinery and capital equipment sectors, both in the UK and overseas. I lived in America and was responsible for subsidiaries in Brazil, Mexico, and Canada. After USA, I moved to Asia, living in Singapore, where I was responsible for several subsidiaries around Asia. Throughout, I have gained experience working for high quality machinery manufacturers in a global setting, often with manufacturers based in Germany.
Now I am most excited to bring my experience to Bystronic and be based in the UK again with responsibilities for my home market.
The prime focus for me over the next few months is to get to know and understand this industry. At Bystronic in the UK, we've got a great management team. I've inherited a well-performing organization, and that makes life much easier. I'm starting to understand what's going on, but really there is no firefighting for me to deal with. Clearly, the team has been very successful over the past few years, and globally, Bystronic is extremely well-led.
I am impressed with Bystronic’s culture which is centred on the customer and I personally want to visit as many customers as possible. That, for me, is as important as understanding the machinery. Although we are a large, multinational company, we are still able to really understand the small manufacturer and work very closely with them. We are not exclusively aimed at large organizations and high-volume manufacturing. That's not the case. Somebody who has one laser, for example, is very dependent on that one laser. That laser needs to be reliable, to be maintained well and function all the time, but it also needs flexibility. It needs to be able to cope with the different work that that company wins, and that business must look after their own customers.
Bystronic have a culture that really cares about our customers, and about our own people too. Both of those things are very, very important to us.
The plan is to continue growing, but in a sustainable way to make sure we continue to give excellent customer service. We've grown quickly over the last few years, and we see that continuing. The products are fantastic, so we're in really good shape. Bystronic is widening the product offering a little bit, which helps. We are growing our after-sales offering too, in terms of the breadth of what we can offer to customers and the support that we can deliver, and also in the quality of how we can support them. To support this growth, we are recruiting and strengthening the team. We are also upskilling our existing engineering team, so rather than having individual laser and press brake engineers, we are multi-training them to be more flexible.
Like other industries and companies, the current situation in the supply chain is challenging. So far, Bystronic has done a very good job in managing suppliers and delivering machines to our customers.
Capital equipment sales are linked very strongly to confidence and market sentiment. People will invest when they're confident. When they're a bit cautious or nervous, they'll put off the investment and make do with the existing equipment. We are seeing an increased uptake again, following COVID, and we hope we will continue like that for the rest of the year.
It's an important part of the focus in the design of new machines to make them as energy efficient as possible. Sustainability is key for our company and is part of our strategy. While our R&D team is focusing on sustainable engineering to increase energy efficiency, our service and software teams are contributing to advancing a circular business model in our industry. Bystronic has also a pre-owned business, where we refurbish used machines and bring them back to the market. There is a strong commitment from Bystronic to do business in a responsible way, not only regarding the environment, but the company ethos is also built around looking after our people.
When it comes to after-sales support, we try to minimise the need for engineers to travel to site by keeping machines running in their factories. The first part of this is our ByCare support, which is a very strong preventative maintenance program, working very closely with our customers, looking after the machines, making sure that everything's in place so that every machine will minimise its downtime before you even reach a breakdown. So that's a very good way of reducing the need for breakdown support. We have a very big team and we can sort out a lot of problems remotely, dialing in to customers’ machines and interrogating them. We can fix a very high percentage of problems and keep people running very efficiently in that way.
This year we are launching many new products, including new laser machines with higher average power, and some more automated press brakes and solutions for loading and unloading which will make our customers able to achieve increased productivity. And in our showroom, we are showcasing the new ByTube Star which is something novel and interesting for many of our customers.
We will also be running an open-house in the autumn, and typically there is a lot of demand for these. We expect 40 to 50 people per day over 2 or 3 days. During the pandemic, we have been running socially distanced visits – but now there is a real demand to get out and about and see and touch the latest machinery. However our Experience Centre is always open to demonstrate our latest technology.