Industrial activities are carried out in the production halls of the electrical and switchgear system FEAG on the western outskirts of Sangerhausen. Technicians fit switchgear cabinets with cables, circuit breakers and centimetre thick copper conductors; the control slips bear the names of large electrical installation construction consortia and destination locations all over the world. "This system for the protection of networks of up to 1,140 Kilovolts is going to Russia, that is for a customer in Austria, and over there we are building generator switchgears for Germany," says Bernd Hiller, managing director of the Fertigungscenter für Elektrische Anlagen GmbH, which is the official name of the company founded by him with other entrepreneurial families in 1997.
The industrial switchgear systems, which are strung together and which are up to 20 metres long, in which copper strands, as thick as an arm, of up to 8000 Amperes are incorporated and which switch the generators on or off in a fraction of a second are kind of like the business card of the Saxony-Anhalt company. "Only a few companies in the world can provide that with the required precision and electro-technical performance parameters. However, we have also made a name for ourselves on the global market in the field of low voltage thanks to continuous innovations," says Hiller. Approximately 70 per cent of the company's output is exported, more than half of this goes to Eastern Europe and to Russia in particular. FEAG provides energy distribution for the White House in Moscow, the home of the Russian government, and the Motor Control Centre for the biggest paper factory in southern Ural, for refineries and pipelines in Qatar, in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. Without the switchgears with the brand name ENERGOLINE from Sangerhausen, nothing would work in the Audi computer system in Ingolstadt or at the new airport Berlin-Schönefeld.
The workforce has quadrupled in just a few years. FEAG has130 permanent employees and a turnover of 25 million and also employs seasonal workers. This is because project work knows everything, except continuity. However, the company was only able to kick start quick growth when it started specialising in individual customer requirements for individual solutions. "You can't really focus on mass production and standards in Germany. Right from the start we looked for our success in innovative engineering and have strived for the biggest possible vertical range of manufacture in this respect," says Hiller. The mechanical coatings, which are punched, bent, joined and painted in the in-house sheet shaping facility, do not only consist of customary electronics and/or electrical engineering but also good German art of engineering. "Energy losses are significantly reduced thanks to intelligent control electronics. We manage this in that we filter out the harmonics, that is the phase and frequency deviations in the AC mains power supply, or limit heat developing magnetic fields," explains Hiller. The extremely difficult to control and dangerous short circuit currents, which arise in generator circuits are one of the company boss' favourite topics: "That is our unique selling point, no-one can solve a problem as well as we can!"
Over all of the entrances to the production halls there are tables, which show in picture form which products other departments are responsible for - and which awards FEAG has received recently. For Bernd Hiller it is important that employees feel closely linked to their company and that the employees and managers can find a common language. "We are the only company in Saxony-Anhalt to have received the title "Top Job" for our excellent work with our staff," says Hiller. Barely any fluctuation, an exceptional work environment and a high training quota are, in his opinion, some of the most important plus points. Nevertheless, all department managers will once again be specially trained in how to help their employees overcome their daily challenges. "It is only when the environment in the company is right that employee performance is at its best, for the benefit of the customers," says Hiller.
In order to meet the need for new, highly qualified personnel, Hiller works closely with universities and institutes of higher education as well as universities of cooperative education, from which potential future employees come. Chinese student Dai Chengli is studying at the TU [Technical University] of Magdeburg. He has received further training for one year as a student employee in the company and will subsequently work on his Diplom [undergraduate degree] dissertation. The budding engineer learns a lot of practical knowledge here and Hiller hopes that the student's knowledge will help them to get a foot in the door of the Chinese market. "Obviously that will not happen overnight, but we are already currently so far on that in autumn we will be present at an electronic exhibition in Shanghai," says Hiller.
FEAG's growth will continue this year too. Right next to hall 5 a new hall will be built for the quickly growing field of medium voltage switchgear systems from autumn. Together with the 3.5 million euros required for this, in the past 15 years of the company's existence about 20 million has been invested in buildings and in technical equipment.
Author: Manfred Schulze
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