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Laying the foundation stone for the think tank of the future

Official start of building work for “Wilo Office 2020”

The Wilo Group has heralded another milestone in its site development project with the laying of the foundation stone for the new “Office 2020”.

In the presence of Dortmund’s mayor Ullrich Sierau and 80 other guests from business, politics, science and culture, this step was the next in the implementation of the greatest infrastructure project in the company’s history, following the first stone laying for the “Smart Factory” in February 2017.

“It is with great pleasure that I witness how the ‘Future Office’ is visibly taking shape, following on from the ‘Smart Factory’, at our global headquarters in Dortmund which after completion will provide around 500 jobs”, said Oliver Hermes, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of the Wilo Group. He also underlined the significance of the project as a whole, which has a pilot character not only for the smartification of the Ruhr area but also for all Wilo sites worldwide: “We are thoroughly convinced that, against the backdrop of the digital transformation, modern industrial workplaces and the sales and business operations they involve have a very bright future in Germany, especially in the Ruhr area. This is why, as a Dortmund-based company, we decided to implement this development project here – it was not merely out of a sense of tradition.”

Redeveloped headquarters covers over 200,000 square metres

In total, the technology specialist for pump system solutions has invested a nine-figure sum in the complete redevelopment of its headquarters in Dortmund. “Office 2020” covers an area of around 12,000 square metres and is seven stories tall, taking it to an overall height of 30 metres and creating another landmark in the south of the city. Next to this is the “Smart Factory”, which is currently being built on a 194,000 square metre plot. Completion of the entire headquarters complex is scheduled for 2022, with the “Smart Factory” already commencing operations at the end of 2019. Together with Dr Jochen Opländer, Honorary Chairman of the Supervisory Board, and Dortmund’s mayor Ullrich Sierau, Oliver Hermes and Chief Technology Officer Georg Weber symbolically laid the foundation stone. Common office items were among the objects put into a time capsule that was cemented in with the stone: highlighters, scissors and hole punches are reminders of earlier times and will be a thing of the past in Office 2020. The Future Office concept at Wilo is already in the test phase and has digitalised all processes of daily office work.

Mayor Sierau expresses his gratitude for Wilo’s loyalty to the city

During a podium discussion with Oliver Hermes and the Wilo Executive Board member responsible for the build, Chief Technology Officer Georg Weber, Mayor Ullrich Sierau thanked the Wilo management for their dedication to the area: “With this pioneering project, the Wilo Group highlights the importance of Dortmund as a location for business and technology”, stressed Ulrich Sierau. “There are not many cities in Germany these days that can count on the loyalty and affinity of its largest private employer. This deserves our heartfelt thanks.”

Added complications for construction due to historical remnants

The scale of the (sometimes unforeseeable) challenges faced in the building work at Nortkirchenstraße can be explained by Georg Weber: “Here, we are building in the middle of the Ruhr area which, after all, was designated as a marshland on old maps. As a result, we were expecting the odd surprise or two from the very beginning.” In addition to ground preparation works, it was the industrial history that complicated matters: “Some of the remnants of the neighbouring steelworks still have to be removed, as well as some contamination from the war. What’s more, we have discovered a coal seam under the administration building that comes from an old mine, and still contains an old coal wagon.”

The Ruhr area as a “Smart Urban Area”

Chief Executive Officer Hermes also considers the Ruhr area as a whole, beyond the confines of his own site. “The region has the best conditions, thanks in part to its high education landscape, its research facilities and its technology parks, to turn itself into a pioneer in the digital transformation process”, explained Oliver Hermes.

“With our site development project in Dortmund, we will turn a concept that others are still developing with model projects into reality: a smart factory according to Industry 4.0 standards with an ultra-modern think tank to meet the challenges of the future.” He is sure that site development projects like that of the Wilo Group will sustainably develop the entire region: “So-called Smart Urban Areas are currently being created in emerging nations around this world: these are huge urban conurbations where millions of people will live.” He sees enormous potential for the developed Ruhr area in this context: “When we talk about growing cities, there is hardly a more densely populated metropolitan region in the whole of Europe than the Ruhr area. Wilo contributes to the sustainable development of the region and those who live here”, explained Oliver Hermes.