PES last spoke to Robert Bürkle GmbH’s Managing Director in 2008, when Hans-Joachim Bender was bullish about the company’s future prospects. Indeed, he said: “Bürkle orientates itself on the known forecasts for developments in the photovoltaic industry. This has resulted in a strategy that is valid until the year 2012, and during this time the turnover will be more than doubled….Bürkle’s target is to become the world leader for lamination lines for the photovoltaic industry. Moreover, the company will shortly be in the position to supply the entire back-end for thin film modules and it will develop new lines. The company will also handle the crystalline sector. Bürkle will turn into a player well-known in the photovoltaic industry worldwide within the next years.” Two years on, and despite a turbulent economic backdrop, the company is very much at the forefront of the PV sector. We caught up with new MD, Detlev Koch, in Germany.
PES: Welcome back to PES magazine. How has trade progressed since we last spoke?
Detlev Koch: Trade has developed really well. Based on the drop in price per Wp, the PV industry is booming. It seems that the cut in earnings has been compensated by low investment.
PES: Bürkle has more than 700 staff members worldwide – what steps do you take to keep them all motivated, and working towards the same goals?
DK: Bürkle management was able to bridge the year 2009 without any cuts in personnel. This is highly appreciated by our staff members, and customer focus is therefore well-established in all our minds.
We conduct open discussions with our staff and provide them with transparent information about the business which makes our targeted goals clear to everyone.
PES: How do the needs of your PV clients differ from your other clients?
DK: The PV industry is going to new standards which are more or less adopted from SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International). And therefore, the price pressure from the markets urge our customers to focus on TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) more than ever. Yield, uptime and the use of materials are the points where we face the highest need for focus.
PES: Bürkle took the innovative step of hiring brand developer Manfred Gotta when marketing the Ypsator – has this investment paid off?
DK: In our times, the function and costs of the laminator are one point, the design of the system is another. We feel that the last decision is influenced by the outlook with a value of at least 20%.