The participation of Freek within Low2High was directed to the customer interface with high-tech producers, with whom
specific product innovations could then jointly be achieved. Accordingly, a focus of the work was placed on the systematic
design of internal processes and external interfaces for managing new customer demands.
This enabled new high-tech customers to be attracted even during the project itself, with exciting project developments full of potential. As well as applications in recognised high-tech industries and applications such as photovoltaics and medical equipment and automotive engineering, niches were also discovered in conventional applications such as hot beverages vending machines, air-conditioning systems and textile processing machines. In both, it was above all the megatrends of resource conservation and energy efficiency that drove the company to integrate process heat into its development considerations.
A second focus involved the cooperative insourcing of the strategically important production line for cartridge heaters, 100%
of which were previously supplied by the Italian EUCOPET partner Euroheat. Owing to a growing incongruence between quantity-orientated
product standardisation on the Italian side and changed market and competitive conditions on the German side, development of the cartridge heaters
business on the German market had come to a halt and was further threatening to harm Freek's own business. To be better able
to meet the increased and often highly specialised expectations of German companies with regard to service, delivery times and product
customisation, it became necessary for the manufacture of electric cartridge heaters to be shared between the two sites in future.
The idea was that Euroheat should leave the specialist items and small series to Freek, while itself continuing to pursue its adopted
route of standardisation to minimise costs. The great challenge was at first to convince Euroheat of the advantages of this new arrangement,
based as it is on strategic cooperation, and then to motivate it to undertake an active transfer of technology. After all, customers
should not have to lower their standards for quality or service life simply because their cartridge heaters are being produced at a
different site. Following a large number of face-to-face meetings, the details of the new cooperation model were finalised and published in a joint agreement:
Freek & EH agree a strategic expansion of cooperation on cartridge heaters
More information on the focal points of Freek's Low2High project can be found in the book publication "Gestaltung und Management von Innovationskooperationen" (Design and management of cooperation on innovation) published by the Institute for Applied Ergonomics (Institut für angewandte Arbeitswissenschaften, ifaa) .