6/7/2019 | 3 MINUTE READ

Trip to Germany Offers Mix of Business and Pleasure

Originally titled 'Right Place at the Right Time'
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A recent trip to Germany for Index’s Open House 2019 event proved the perfect opportunity to catch up with the company’s latest news and technology while also taking in some nice tourist activities.

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Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.
— Aristotle

Want to get away? Sometimes the desire to leave becomes overwhelming because of unbearable pressure or problems. Sometimes it’s good to escape just to rejuvenate the spirit. And sometimes an unexpected trip comes along at just the right time to serve multiple purposes.

At the end of March, I had the opportunity to travel to southern Germany, near Stuttgart, as part of a press tour of three manufacturing and assembly facilities of the Index Group. The tour was coupled with Index’s Open House 2019, which brought more than 2,000 customers and potential customers from Germany and abroad to the company’s Reichenbach plant.

I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed in the office and was beginning to dream about ways to escape for a few days to clear my head. Still being quite busy, though, thinking of an excuse was difficult until the open house presented justification. I made my arrangements and headed out on Monday, March 25.

When we arrived Tuesday morning after an overnight flight, we had several hours to freshen up before the first official event. We were staying in the small town of Esslingen, where one of the Index plants—focusing on assembly of turning machines—is located. Rather than taking advantage of the time to rest, I decided to immediately adapt to the time zone and head out to the historic Old Town district, which was only blocks from our hotel. I was rewarded with walks down cobblestone streets, views of medieval half-timbered architecture and amazing German pastries.

Later in the afternoon, the press group loaded into shuttles for the short drive to Reichenbach, where we attended a press conference featuring a presentation by company board members Reiner Hammerl, managing director, sales; Dr. Dirk Prust, managing director, technology (chairman); Harald Klaiber, managing director, finance. With Index already strong in automotive and Traub in medical, the panel explained the company’s plans to further boost its presence in other industries such as electronics, aerospace and energy. The company is targeting its most significant short-term growth in the Americas and Asia.

On Wednesday morning, our first stop was the Deizisau plant, which is the headquarters for Index multi-spindle machines. This location, with about 400 employees, handles design, software, all assembly operations, setup, and pre-acceptance training for these machines.

Later in the morning, we returned to Reichenbach where we saw machine demonstrations and technical presentations covering such topics as high-speed whirling, gearing technologies, in-process grinding and polygon turning. The open house featured more than 20 turning machines under power and the company’s latest developments in its cloud-based iXworld platform. About 30 other partner companies were also on hand to present many of their latest innovations.

Mid-afternoon, we returned to Esslingen, where we toured several of the turning equipment assembly lines and learned about Index’s commitment to the ongoing workforce needs in manufacturing. The company’s three-and-a-half-year apprenticeship program accepts about 30 people per year from the more than 600 who apply and trains them for opportunities in such areas as industrial mechanics, electronics, product design and industrial management.

That evening we were treated to a tour of the Kessler champagne cellar in Esslingen. Germany’s oldest, it was founded in 1826, but established within medieval vaults from the 1200s.

On Thursday morning, the group was provided a tour of the Mercedes Benz museum—a fantastic 175,000-square-foot building (a work of art in itself) that features more than 160 vehicles. Later that day we returned to the Open House in Reichenbach for a final look at the technology on display and an opportunity to explore any remaining questions.

As an added bonus, we were given the opportunity to extend our stay an additional day to take advantage of a guided tour of Heidelberg Castle. While parts of this structure are in varying stages of deterioration, the guide helped us easily imagine life as it was 800 years before.

This trip truly felt like exactly what I needed. The extensive technology on display at the three Index facilities and the discussions with company executives and technical personnel provided a great learning opportunity. Including an assortment of casual site-seeing outings resolved my itch to get away.

For further information, including links to specific product details, and to view a slideshow of the event, please visit short.productionmachining.com/index2019.


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