December 30, 2020
2020 – RHF’s review of the year
Now this year 2020 is coming to an end. A year ago no one had thought what would happen in the next 12 months. A change in the automotive industry was expected. But nobody had expected a pandemic and its influences on this scale. Andreas Mathiak, Head of Global Sales at RHF, looks back on an unusual year.
At the beginning of 2020, we anticipated economic influences on the automotive industry in particular. But we were very quickly confronted with another challenge that our Chinese colleagues first encountered: a complete lockdown with only home office, remote meetings and video telephony became part of everyday life. At first we looked amazed at the developments in China and wondered how things would go on. This phase began in Europe from mid-March. After spontaneously reorganizing everyday office life to home office, we quickly and easily found our way around these technologies.
Now we were sitting in front of our PCs. It’s everyday life for the development department, but everyday work has changed the most for the sales and support staff. We would have gladly continued to support our customers on site and would have come to them. In Germany and Europe, however, access to companies was mostly forbidden for suppliers. Due to travel restrictions, we were not allowed to travel to many countries around the world.
So we linked our computers and laptops, picked up cell phones and continued to offer our support from home. Worldwide. That led to one or the other night shift. Because the time difference is still there. Strong coffee and the motivation to work together and to be able to advance projects helped to work at unfamiliar times. And most importantly: it worked. Actually very good.
Fortunately it was a little better in the summer and we were able to work in the office again. The personal contact and exchange between us colleagues also worked online before, but having personal conversations and having a coffee together (at a distance) was again very nice.
Some business trips and visits to users were possible again. Our customers were also very happy to accept offers of personal work meetings. We were very happy about the personal contact again.
Actually we wanted to exhibit at five trade fairs in 2020. But nothing came of that either. Planning uncertainties and postponements by the organizers accompanied us. The trade fairs were only postponed to autumn 2020 and then to 2021. Only the Automotive Testing Expo in Shanghai / China could take place in September 2020. Our Chinese colleagues reported that the number of visitors was lower than in previous years. However, there were correspondingly qualitative visitors who were specifically looking for diagnostic systems in the development and production of engines and transmissions, and fewer walk-in customers.
Since the projects related to the further development of the powertrains are continuing at the automobile manufacturers, especially in the electrical sector, we were able to participate again in numerous test projects and end-of-line production facilities despite the special circumstances. With these experiences it can be said that we accept the change in working conditions as an opportunity and want to continue trying to maintain the positive developments. Because you don’t have to get on the plane for every small meeting. Conference calls between end customers, suppliers and test bench manufacturers bring fast and determined results. The flexibility and discipline of everyone involved is impressive. You also get a little closer personally, as everyone shows understanding for the situation. But we don’t want to deny that it is sad if you can’t go out to dinner or ring in the evening after work is done.
The situation is still a bit unusual for working in your own team, as a quick brainstorming session or a technical query from a distance are different from knocking on your colleague’s door. Or our foreign employees in Italy and France, for example, were not even once in Karlsfeld this year. Of course, our traditional and beautiful Christmas party didn’t take place either. The team meeting at the end of the year was a video conference this time. Unfortunately, nobody served up the traditional white sausage with pretzel themselves. Sadly, the circumstances are not so ideal for personal team spirit. But we hope to be able to catch up on all of that.
For the coming year 2021 we wish all of you and ourselves good health. And that the cooperation with you, our users and customers, continues to work so smoothly and humanely. Be it via remote meetings, in person on site or simply by phone. We all don’t know how 2021 will develop, especially the first few months. You can be sure that we are always available for you. We support you.
It would also be very nice to be able to meet you at one of our five planned events in 2021 at the latest. The expected dates are:
- 18. – 20. May 2021: Battery & Hybrid Vehicle Show, Stuttgart / Germany
- 08. – 10. June 2021: Testing Expo Europe, Stuttgart / Germany
- 22. – 24. June 2021: CWIEME, Berlin / Germany
- 01. – 03. September 2021: Testing Expo China, Shanghai / China
- 26. – 28. October 2021: Testing Expo USA, Novi Michigan / USA
The Reilhofer team wishes you a good start into the New Year. Stay healthy.
See you soon and on behalf of the whole RHF team,
Your Andreas Mathiak