The “Baden-Württemberg Competence Prize for Innovation and Quality” was bestowed for the second time at the Control trade fair in Stuttgart in May. This year, the prize was awarded to the Neuhausen-based company Balluff GmbH – a global leader in the production of sensor technology for over half a century. The Steinbeis Foundation for Economic Development is the patron of the Competence Prize, which was launched in 2008 by P. E. Schall GmbH & Co. KG and TQU.
The prize is awarded to companies demonstrating business excellence, even in difficult times – and this in a federal state of Germany already unrivalled for its innovative flair across a variety of industrial sectors. As Helmut Bayer, jury member and director of TQU Business, explained at the awards ceremony, the jury places particular emphasis on companies which “set an example by submitting themselves for the Baden-Württemberg Competence Prize”.
“The Baluff submission did precisely that,” said Professor Dr. Heinz Trasch, Chairman of the Steinbeis Foundation Board, in his congratulatory speech. “As a owner-managed Swabian firm which already lays particular emphasis on quality due to its heritage, this firm did not rest on its laurels and merely bask in its excellent market position. It continued to aim even higher.”
The jury praised Baluff in particular for not “acting out of distress” but, even as a market leader, scrutinizing its own products and processes from the customer viewpoint and drawing up procedures to secure outstanding quality. In particular, Baluff was looking for a new way to analyze and evaluate long-term reliability and error rates across the entire product lifecycle. The aim: even greater customer benefit. And the result? A monitoring process called HALT, which was chosen specifically to transcend technical specifications and thus make a significant contribution to enhancing customer benefit. As the jury stated unanimously, “This first step created new challenges which were systematically resolved through organizational steps – making it possible to offer the customer value-added.”
Baluff also earned particular praise for shifting the emphasis of its philosophy from “We prove that our products are good” to “We seek out technical weak points in our products that could cause difficulties for our customers in the future”. Overall, Balluff succeeded in pulling together a package of measures that guarantee reliably functioning products, safeguard the smooth operation of customers’ machinery, cut the cost of servicing, and result in competitive advantage and a higher market share for the innovative firm.