Growth despite a shortage of skilled workers! How? Through innovative processes

Screw conveyors, screw feeders and screw dischargers; chain conveyors, elevators and grinders: the traditional company Paul Groth Mühlenbau GmbH & Co. KG from Elmshorn offers solutions for the conveyance and processing of food, grain and non-food products. And it’s now already in the fourth generation. It all began in 1925 with a mill construction company in Pomerania. Since 1945, Paul Groth has been based in Schleswig-Holstein. Paul Groth Mühlenbau GmbH & Co. KG is another example of how tradition and innovation are not mutually exclusive. The company gives us exciting insights into the completed innovation project ‘Simply Up(to)Date’. The aim was to generate entrepreneurial growth through new innovative processes – despite the existing shortage of skilled workers. Sounds exciting. It is! We spoke to the management and project management of Paul Groth Mühlenbau GmbH & Co. KG:

WTSH-Online editorial team: What was the initial situation before the project?

Paul Groth Mühlenbau: Before the project, the machines were manufactured almost exclusively to order. However, a lot of the machines consist in principle of the same components. The products were manufactured exactly according to the customer’s wishes, so that the requirements had to be determined in a personal meeting with the customer in order to find the best solution. This was customised in the design department and calculated manually. To achieve this, all divisions of the company had to work very closely together with their respective expertise. The previous processes only worked because, on the one hand, we have highly qualified employees and, on the other, we have very short communication channels due to the size of our company. However, with this way of working, it was no longer possible to achieve any more significant growth. Another major obstacle was, and is, that there are simply not enough qualified staff in the region. So it was clear that we had to act in order to remain competitive in the long term.

WTSH-Online editorial team: What were you able to achieve through this project and what went particularly well or less well?

Paul Groth Mühlenbau: The core of the project was to design the product groups such that they could be put together in a modular way. To achieve this, the processes first had to be developed and then digitised. In this context, we then introduced a product configurator that allows customers to request a quotation based on their needs. Productivity has also been increased enormously in the areas of design and assembly. As a result, we have been able to drastically reduce quotation and processing times. It is also particularly gratifying that the product configurator has been so well received by our customers and that the project team, even after the completion of the project, still continues to meet regularly for ‘POI meetings’ in order to improve the details. We are just carrying on as we did during the project.

WTSH-Online editorial team: How was WTSH able to support you with this innovation project?

Paul Groth Mühlenbau: Together, we identified the potential for digitisation that exists in our company. We were then made aware of the appropriate state funding programmes. We actually wanted to start with the application process right away, but fortunately, together with the WTSH innovation consultants, we managed to incorporate the large number of individual projects we planned into a larger, holistic, interlinked overall concept. The holistic view contributed immensely to the successful implementation of the project. On the one hand, the project funding was financially advantageous; on the other, the milestones we set ourselves forced us to proceed in a structured and swift manner. This, too, helped in the realisation of the project. Spurred on by the innovation project, we now have many more ideas to take our company forward. The WTSH innovation consultants continue to support us, for example with new contacts. We have also already found out how another planned digitisation project could be implemented.

WTSH-Online editorial team: We look forward to continuing to accompany you in this endeavour. 


Paul Groth Mühlenbau GmbH & Co.KG is leading the way: companies that strategically utilise their expertise and tradition in the development of innovations, while implementing holistic innovation projects, remain successful and are more resilient in times of crisis. 

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