groninger uses Digital “Superhero Powers” in Times of COVID

The Covid pandemic forces companies to be creative, especially when it comes to digital creativity because travel restrictions and applicable quarantine regulations are still making every day work difficult for companies that operate worldwide.

The Crailsheim filling machine manufacturer groninger found a way to still be available for its customers - by using double telepresence robots.

The Covid pandemic still controls Germany and the world—traveling is still difficult, sometimes even impossible. While some nations never closed their borders to business travelers completely and have relatively unbureaucratic entry regulations for business travelers, other countries, such as China, rely on strict entry restrictions.

Since the beginning of the year, the People’s Republic has again massively tightened the entry requirements for foreign specialists. As a result, it is almost impossible for medium-sized companies to meet the requirements, criticized the VDMA last week. The European Union and thus Germany have also issued strict entry regulations for travelers from the Asian country. Personal contact between German plant manufacturers and Chinese customers is therefore even more difficult than ever.

China, in particular, is of immense importance as the second largest market for German mechanical engineering—just behind the United States.

After more than a year since the pandemic began, the following becomes evident, companies that operate worldwide and have a high export quota are still dependent on creative solutions in order to maintain contact with their customers and not let up in their efforts with the customer. In most cases, digitization is the keyword here.

This is also the case for the Crailsheim filling machine manufacturer groninger. Exactly a year ago, two double telepresence robots were purchased to create a digital offer for customers to carry out FATs remotely, and also to discuss design reviews or hold company presentations.

"Our customers are absolutely thrilled."
Pascal Kottenstein
Leiter Planung und Steuerung

The double telepresence robots, which are internally named Mario and Luigi - named after the legendary Nintendo superheroes - are self-propelled video conference robots.

The customer simply controls it through an app or from a PC. The robot and thus the customer, is able to move around the machines more or less freely, to change the perspective and view. At the same time, one can communicate with the assembly, operating and project management staff at groninger.

“A colleague came up with the idea - at first it was really just a fun idea. He knew this type of robot from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ series. And they say TV isn’t educational”, says Pascal Kottenstein, Head of Planning and Control, with a laugh.

The first digital machine acceptance using the robots took place in May of last year. Now the family business takes stock - around 20 customer projects so far have been successfully completed this way at the main production site in Crailsheim alone; the robots have been in use for almost 140 hours. In the future, there should be even more of that because “Our customers are completely impressed with it. Sure, the robot cannot completely replace the personal contact and, hopefully, it will never completely do that, however, it offers a very well-functioning alternative to the physical presence of customers and, as a result, a creative solution to the Covid pandemic.”

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