Leading in technology – Vogelsang always a step ahead
Powerful performance – Vogelsang wins German innovation leader award for the third time

Germany’s economic strength is carried by approximately 3.2 million medium-sized companies of which 91% are family-controlled. Some of them are referred to as “spearheads of the German  economy” or “hidden champions.” They are market leaders and, to a great extent, also world market leaders, but only a few are also innovation leaders.

For the third time Vogelsang has been awarded the title of “German innovation leader” by the FAZ institute, a subsidiary of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the leading German daily newspaper. In 2019 the independent economic research institute Prognos had, for the first time, created a unique overview of German innovation leaders in a study.

This study was based on the patenting activities of approximately 33,000 companies and research institutions operating in Germany. The study drew on data from the Worldwide Patent Statistical Database of the European Patent Office, in which more than 100 million patents of all economically important countries in the world are recorded. All patent families of the last ten years were analyzed worldwide.

Vogelsang was awarded the title of “German Innovation Leader” in five industrial sectors.

The decisive factors were not the actual number of patents, but rather the innovative strength (i.e., how an invention varies from previous inventions) and innovation leadership (how strong is the influence of an invention on other inventions). With regard to Vogelsang, this means the more often a patent has to be cited by other patents, the more Vogelsang is leading in this field. At the same time, of course, this also means that the less often a Vogelsang invention has to cite other patents, the more innovative this particular invention is.

"Innovations are the solutions for tomorrow" – Interview with Hugo Vogelsang

THINK RED: Mr. Vogelsang, you have been responsible for R&D for many years and therefore have a very large influence on the company’s innovative strength. What does this award mean to you?

Hugo Vogelsang: We are, of course, delighted that we have received this innovation award to mark the 90th anniversary of our company. It is a very nice birthday present! This title shows us above all that tradition and innovation are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary! Our decades of striving to offer our customers the best possible solution for their problems, which is actually a good craftsman tradition, forces us to think about innovative products, concepts and solutions anew every day. The fact that this results in cutting-edge technology and that we set market standards is proof of the thoroughness with which we do this. For us, the award is therefore very nice confirmation of our many years of work and recognition of our company philosophy.

But how do you manage not to forget the topic of innovation in the daily business of the company and drive it forward in a strategic and operational manner instead?

Innovations are solutions for tomorrow and are developed on the basis of the market or customer requirements. Here, too, our demand for absolute market proximity is bearing fruit. The customer is the focus of attention! It is important to us to be very close to the market, understand it and respond to it.

To achieve this, we need above-average expertise, maximum manufacturing quality, the pursuit of perfection, but also courage and the willingness to take risks in order to invest in new ideas and developments. And of course the right amount of passion combined with perseverance and tenacity. These are all distinctive characteristics of Vogelsang that are engrained in our DNA. This award as German innovation leader is also a great acknowledgment of the performance of our staff. They help us every day with new ideas for products and processes. An open exchange is very important in this respect! No idea is initially rejected. We put everything to the test.

What is your take on the development process at Vogelsang?

The very dynamic market conditions and the resulting customer requirements require ever-faster project and development cycles. This, of course, applies not only to us, but also to other mechanical engineering companies and market players.

At Vogelsang we also have the special challenge of having a very broad product portfolio in very heterogeneous and competitive markets with very different customer requirements. In order to do justice to this complexity, we at Vogelsang rely on agile methods in which individual project stages are processed efficiently in short project cycles (sprints). This allows our engineers to develop new prototypes from ideas bit by bit in record time.

Can you name a few successful examples in this respect?

The year 2019 is a very good example of our success in the field of innovations and new product developments: after extremely short development times, we have – and will – introduce several highly innovative products to the market in the field of agricultural technology alone. In June this year, we introduced a new trailing shoe technology for maximum economic efficiency, the BlackBird, as well as a completely new precision distributor, the ExaCut ECQ with a new type of service concept. But that is not yet all – we will be launching further new products at Agritechnica, the leading international trade fair for agricultural technology, which will take place in Hanover at the beginning of November. For example, a gearless VX series rotary lobe pump based on the HiFloplus geometry, with reduced weight and energy requirements, the VXGL, as well as an enlarged version of the BlackBird trailing shoe system with a working width of 24 meters. The ability to launch four innovations of this magnitude in the market within one year is a demonstration of the excellent and agile interaction of the teams and process steps, and our always close cooperation with the customer.

Mr. Vogelsang, thank you for the interview.