Research Project "Lean"


With the research project LEAN Implementation, which was completed in 2008, Freek also demonstrated how simple heating elements could be successfully manufactured in a high-tech country such as Germany [9]. The particular challenge of this process lay in the simultaneous optimisation of two apparently conflicting objectives: cost-cutting standardisation and market-oriented flexibility. The solutions we developed were included in an integrated business model, the implementation and application of which subsequently afforded Freek a second, long-lasting growth cycle.


The idea for LEAN was born at the beginning of the new millennium when networks were being created throughout wide areas of the industry and the 'pioneering bonus' for inter-company cooperation was dwindling. At the time, a number of OEM clients in the merchandising sector were turning their backs on Freek, especially the major ones. Not only had they continued to develop, they had also built up their own global sourcing competence and no longer saw any reason to meet their needs through a distributor. At the same time, the economic crisis triggered by 9/11 and the resulting upward pressure on costs increased companies' willingness to transfer to the manufacturing companies.

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Lean Business Model

The causes of this unexpected development of simple standard heating elements resulted in a number of targeted measures being put together and allocated to one of five market positioning strategies.

In doing so, an integrated value creation strategy was used to spread the in- and inter-company value-adding process across several companies at optimal cost and with a flexibility bonus, as well as to participate in innovative high technologies without actually having to invest in them.

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Record of Success

Unlike EUCOPET, the transition with LEAN, which called primarily for in- and inter-company collaboration and the involvement of employees, was easier to achieve. As early as the late 1990s, during the initiation and organisation of the EUCOPET cooperation, Freek had already begun transforming the corporate organisation into a cooperation organisation. At the same time – in the course of many years of in- and inter-company cooperation – the employees had developed from a group of excellent individuals to a top team whose social and, above all, cooperation competence has literally given Freek an inimitable competitive edge.

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Project partners, Industry partners, Scientific partners and Transfer partners...

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