Over the winter months, Siemens Home Appliances ran an incentive program for stores that supported its Siemens products. The prize was a trip to Germany to visit IFA in Berlin and various factories manufacturing Siemens and Bosch products.
Luke Westmore from Winning Appliances in Indooroopilly, previously Ron Handley Retravision, was one of the winners — this is his story.
I’ve been working as an appliance salesperson for eight years and I’ve made a great career out of it. During that time, I’ve come to think of Siemens as one of my favourite brands — it’s a brand that we do homeshows with and we’ve got a large display in the store where we do cooking demonstrations.
The competition was for salespeople only — there were no storeowners on the trip. I was stoked to find out I was going. Although our Siemens sales during the promotion period had been strong, I didn’t know how we were going compared to other stores, so I was very happy that we won and I got to go.
From Brisbane we flew to Sydney, then on to Abu Dhabi, Munich and finally Berlin.
The day after arriving, we went to IFA. It was the first time I’d ever been to a show that size before — it was amazing — I was blown away by the absolute size of it. To visit all the companies on display there would take days if you wanted to do it properly.
I was surprised by the companies that sell products in Europe and Asia that we don’t get to see in Australia. For example, Panasonic was displaying cookware: that was something that I never heard of and to actually see it up and running was quite cool.
Siemens had one of the largest and most impressive displays in IFA. It’s exciting to see the new products and technology Siemens will be bringing to Australia soon. Most impressive would have to be how interactive Siemens appliances will one day be. Soon you will have the ability to be able to see inside your fridge from your smart phone or tablet whilst you’re in the supermarket doing your shopping!
On the tech side, Sony’s new 4K TVs were very impressive, as was the 3D gaming with separate glasses so two people can play full screen rather than split screen.
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Luke and Andrew Dean from Spartan Electrical enjoying a pork knuckle in Munich.
While in Berlin, the group toured the famous Brandenburg Gate.
Hands On: Luke preparing lunch at the Siemens Experience Centre.
From talking to the Siemens staff in Germany, I realised how important a market Australia is for this enormous company. They speak of Australia very highly and they have a lot of faith in their Australian retailers to help them improve their share here. The simple fact that they are willing to bring sales staff over to visit the factories shows their commitment.
There is a lot of love for Australia at Siemens’ head office. We were shown presentations showing how much the company has grown in Australia compared to other country and it was stressed to us that Siemens wants to realise its full potential.
While in Berlin, I had the chance to do some sightseeing. We went to a World War II museum, saw the Brandenburg Gate and visited the Berlin Wall. We were extremely lucky to visit some well known restaurants and taste some amazing food.
The next day we travelled around 550 kilometres southwest to Dillingen, in Bavaria. This is where Siemens manufactures its dishwashers.
The first thing that struck me about the dishwasher factory was the size of it — many, many, many football fields — and that would just be the warehouse where they store the final product.
I’d never been to a whitegoods factory overseas before. I have been to Qasair’s rangehood factory down in Melbourne, which is a good working factory, but it’s quite small compared to this one.
The factory has its own railway so large trains can come up to collect the big shipments. The scope of it is enormous — the amount of people that work there — they almost employ a whole town just to work in their factories.
What struck me first was how German the factory was: extremely clean, very structured and everything is ready to go as soon as the staff walks in.
The biggest surprise was the amount of assembly lines that they had — six different assembly lines all doing exactly the same thing all at the same time. I had always thought that they just had one assembly line.
The manufacturing is done by a mixture of robots and people. The people that are there are doing the smaller things closer to the end of the process: quality control, testing everything, adding the electronics.
In terms of the main chassis and the body and the way the steel is cut, this is all done by machinery.
It was good to see the robots in the area where they test the product. There are all these dishwashers in a simulation room where tests have been running for around 15 years. There are rows of 20 dishwashers and this robot moving around filling up detergent cups, opening doors, running the long term tests — that was quite cool to see.
The next day we went out to the cooking factory in Traunreut, near the Swiss Alps. Although vastly different, the way the factory works was extremely similar. Here we got a very hands-on experience with the cooking appliances. The whole group prepared lunch for ourselves. This was certainly the highlight of the day and a great opportunity to use the products that we sell in Australia.
Seeing the products being manufactured in person gave me a lot of faith in the brand. I can now look at a customer and say that I’ve seen this dishwasher or that oven being built from the ground up and I know the care and quality that has gone into it. Visiting the factories reaffirmed the reasons why I push it as a product.
Back in Munich on the final day we were able to have a free day — finally getting a chance to sit in the sun with a pork knuckle and a few steins. Munich is an amazing city with some great architecture. It had a very laid back feel, lots of open markets and, best of all, lots of beer gardens!