Freek back to pre-crisis level - 24.02.2021
Menden/Germany - 2021 was not an easy year for heating element manufacturer Friedr. Freek either. The lockdown at the beginning of the year, uncertainty about the progress, handling and consequences of the pandemic as well as disrupted supply chains and price increases across the board made serious predictions almost impossible. The Freek managers are therefore all the more pleased to be able to announce a growth of 16% in 2021 leading the company much earlier back to pre-crisis level than expected.
The Menden-based electric heating specialists are very optimistic that, after a successful 2021, they will also achieve double-digit growth in the current year. The quick recovery is not merely coincidence but rather result of the "DigiTra" digitalisation strategy initiated in 2019 and scheduled to run for three years. Many of the sub-projects named in DigiTra have been extremely sped up by the permanent crisis that hit us in 2019 with Dieselgate, Brexit, penalty tariffs, Covid and the numerous geopolitical hotspots.
Internal and inter-company cooperation for example, especially cooperation with the international EUCOPET partners, has been perfected out of necessity in a very short time. Digital communication and information technologies, which until then were mainly used in corporate groups and big companies, are now naturally used. Cooperation in projects, developments and day-to-day business is more effective and efficient than ever, regardless of workplace and location, thanks to uncomplicated meetings, easy access and sharing of information.
Business processes have also been digitalised much faster than it could be expected. For colleagues digitally filed processes were essential for entering orders, issuing purchase orders or quotations, or providing information on these from the home office. By the end of 2022, all business processes are to be even better supported, interlinked and thus even faster, more secure and more transparent through an ERP upgrade.
As usual with project plans, the progress achieved is quantified and evaluated by key performance indicators. The basic performance indicator system is well approved and has been further updated in the course of the adaptation of our quality management to the 2015 version of DIN EN 9001, which took place in 2021. Together with DQS, being Freek’s certification partner, the risk and opportunity management and in particular the management review have been redesigned and expanded to include suitable evaluation key figures.
Another highlight among the DigiTra projects at Freek is the implementation of a new test system for electric heating elements. This not only ensures the high quality of the products manufactured and offered by Freek, but also testifies this high quality transparently and makes it accessible to customers on a secure online platform. The test system is integrated into the production process so all article and batch-related data can be transferred from the ERP system via programmed interfaces and processed further. The project is funded by the German innovation programme “Digital Jetzt” coordinated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. The new test system is supposed to be fully implemented within the first half of 2022.
The successes achieved in e-commerce and online marketing as well are important for the positive business development and optimistic expectations. The number of products on shop.freek.de is increasing constantly, and current company information and product-relevant content is published regularly on freek-heaters.com. With such a wide variety of numerous online offers available, customers and business partners worldwide can be informed, contacted and supported easily also by small and medium sized companies.
Even with all the euphoria about digital achievements and the new possibilities they open up, after the end of the Covid 19 restrictions Freek is also looking forward to finally meeting customers and business partners in person again, latest in October at K 2022 in Düsseldorf at Freek's stand 11A01.
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