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9 Sep 2021

International Wilo industry conference 2021

(left to right): Oliver Hermes, President and CEO of the Wilo Group and Sigmar Gabriel, former Vice-Chancellor and Chairman of Atlantik-Brücke e.V. at the Wilo industry conference.

Topic: ‘Decoupling – Rethink Value Chain’

Dortmund. An increasing number of companies are caught between the fronts of geopolitical disputes – the motto ‘change through trade’ seems to be the order of the day. For this reason, the Wilo Group organised an international industry conference on the topic of ‘Decoupling – Rethink Value Chains’ for around 150 high-ranking guests from business, science and politics on 9 September 2021. A total of around 80 guests gathered at the Wilopark in Dortmund for the hybrid event, among them Sigmar Gabriel, former Vice-Chancellor and Chairman of Atlantik-Brücke e.V.

Decoupling – an alternative to multilateralism

The spectre of ‘decoupling’ – a politically intended decoupling of global developments – is haunting international economies across continents and is often falsely underpinned with positive connotations. Trade sanctions, extraterritorial sanctions, technology embargoes and the politically motivated decoupling of value chains all have devastating consequences for the hyper-globalised world economy,” said Oliver Hermes, President and CEO of the Wilo Group, as he opened the conference.

Under the title ‘Changing times in world politics – Germany’s new role’, Sigmar Gabriel also addressed the current geopolitical changes. “The long-standing relationship between Germany and the USA, the Transatlantic Alliance, will have to reposition itself in post-pandemic times,” Sigmar Gabriel said.

How to adjust to the decoupling of the global economy, seize opportunities and avoid risks in the process was discussed by Sigmar Gabriel and Oliver Hermes with high-ranking guests such as Cathrina Claas-Mühlhäuser, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board and of the Shareholders’ Committee of the CLAAS Group, Klaus Rosenfeld, CEO of Schaeffler AG, and Shi Mingde, President of the Society for Chinese-German Friendship and former Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China.

Oliver Hermes explained that the Wilo Group has been responding to these changes for many years with the ‘region-for-region’ approach, which is based on the assumption that a new form of globalisation will result in greater regionalisation of the value chains in the three major economic centres of North America, the EU, and Asia. “As part of this approach, we’re consistently striving to serve regional or local customer needs with products that have been manufactured either regionally or locally. For this reason, Wilo is opening a second headquarters in Beijing for the emerging markets sales region and, in the medium term, a third headquarters in the USA. Additional production sites are also being established in China and India as well as in the USA,” says Oliver Hermes.

Semiconductor crisis poses major challenges for companies

In addition to the foreclosure attempts of individual countries, the coronavirus crisis has changed value chains worldwide. The situation in semiconductor supply chains in particular continues to deteriorate and the impact of chip shortages is not only fatal for the automotive industry.

Matthias Hutter, Vice President Product Management & Supplier Marketing – EMEA, Arrow Electronics, Stéphane Piat, SVP Strategic Supply Chain Schneider Electric, Thomas Staudinger, President of EMB, Dr Peter Wawer, Division President IPC Infineon Technologies AG, and Georg Weber, Board Member and CTO of the Wilo Group discussed the topic ‘The semiconductor industry at the turning point’.

“Due to the large impact of stagnating global value chains, most companies are focusing on topics such as resilient supply chains, sustainability, and risk management as a differentiating competitive advantage. We are very glad that we at Wilo took the forward-looking steps in the right direction early on, for example by focusing on a sustainable and balanced sourcing strategy,” reported Georg Weber.

Visit of the German Men’s Eight as a special highlight

Another item on the programme was the video message from Prof. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digital Transformation and Energy of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. At the end of the conference, the German Men’s Eight, just a few weeks after the final race of the Olympic Games silver medallists in Tokyo, visited the conference at the Wilopark. On this occasion, the rowers answered questions about the Olympic Games and provided insights into their everyday lives as athletes.