Stuttgart – If employees in Germany and elsewhere are currently packing their suitcases, it doesn’t always mean they’re heading off on vacation. Many are being sent abroad by their employers. Among these are specialists and executives who spend a few years abroad for their company. The objective is for them to share their knowledge with local colleagues, acquire new specialist competence, and gain international experience. At Bosch, the supplier of technology and services, several thousand associates also work abroad each year in regional subsidiaries around the globe. In 2012, more than 5,600 associates were on assignments outside their home countries. To help associates settle into their new cultures and to facilitate their re-integration into their home countries, systematic support before, during, and after the assignment is important.
“Right from the beginning of their time abroad, associates should start thinking about their return,” says Andreas Bäuerle, who is in charge of international assignments at Bosch. “This explains why our international assignments are limited to four years. Moreover, our associates receive a guarantee that they will be able to return to a job in the company that sent them abroad.”
An poorly prepared return often means dissatisfied associates. In some cases, they may even change employers shortly after returning. At Bosch, by contrast, the rate of turnover one year after the end of an international assignment is very low. The number of people who end their assignments prematurely is likewise under one percent. According to the HR expert Bäuerle, associates who want their long-term assignment to be successful should pay particular attention to the following points:
Pre-assignment talk: Two to four months before the assignment, its labor-law, tax-related, and financial aspects should be discussed. The associate’s partner should also be involved in the discussion, particularly when they also intend to find work abroad. The company can often help its associates’ partners in this respect.
Reconnaissance trip: This gives associates the chance to get to know their new place of work, new city, and new country together with their partner. The associated costs are usually paid by the company.
Intercultural preparatory seminar: This prepares associates and their partners for the new culture, its lifestyle, and its idiosyncrasies, and makes it easier to overcome any culture shock.
Language course: These help associates and their partners integrate into their new surroundings better, also in their private lives.
Mentoring program: A mentor from a higher hierarchical level supervises the associate and supports them on their return. He or she also helps with the internal job search ahead of time.
Network: Future expatriates can benefit from the country-specific expertise of associates who have completed international assignments. The exchange of experience is useful for preparation and for re-adjustment.
International assignments encourage diversity and networking At Bosch, international assignments are a key element of HR policy. The cross-border exchange that happens when associates are sent abroad helps to facilitate two-way knowledge transfer between the regions. “International assignments play an important role in networking our associates. They also help us see things from different perspectives,” says Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH. “This global knowledge transfer and intercultural exchange are part of our program to promote the diversity we need as a seedbed of new ideas.”
International experience as career stepping-stone The majority of executives at Bosch have spent at least two years abroad over the course of their careers. But shorter assignments are also attractive for both employers and employees. Last year, Bosch sent some 2,900 associates on short-term assignments, which last between approximately three and twenty-four months. An assignment abroad is one of five career stepping-stones which executives must fulfill in order to reach the next hierarchical level. International assignments have a long tradition at Bosch. As early as 1905, when the first Bosch manufacturing facility outside Germany was established, senior engineers came from Paris to Stuttgart in order to transfer knowledge and the corporate culture to the French location.
Products to improve road safety in world’s largest automotive market
Strengthening local production for local customers
Chengdu - Bosch opened a new plant in Chengdu, western China. In the future, the plant will manufacture safety systems such as the ABS antilock braking system and the ESP(R) electronic stability program for local customers. The new site covers a total of some 127,000 square meters. Bosch, a supplier of technology and services, will be investing roughly 100 million euros in the location in the years ahead. Of this amount, 35 million euros have already been spent on the first construction phase.
The new manufacturing facility will strengthen the company’s local presence. “Chinese drivers are placing increasing importance on road safety. Like in other regions, this is causing increased demand for safety systems,” said Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, who sits on the Bosch board of management, at the official opening ceremony. “Our new Chengdu plant underlines our great confidence in the world’s largest automotive market. And by manufacturing locally, we can react better and faster to the requirements of our western Chinese customers.”
In organizational terms, the new plant will belong to the Chassis Systems Control division. This Bosch division manufactures and develops components and systems for active and passive safety, as well as driver assistance systems. Worldwide, Chassis Systems Control employs some 16,000 associates at more than 35 locations. It has had a manufacturing facility in Suzhou, near Shanghai, since 2002. To allow these safety systems to be tested, Bosch opened a further test track in Donghai, in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, in June this year.
Bosch in China A global supplier of technology and services, Bosch has been present in China since 1909. Today, Bosch China has some 34,000 associates, working in the Automotive Technology, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology business sectors at 58 locations. Following Germany and the U.S., China is Bosch’s third largest market. It generated sales of some 5.1 billion euros in 2012.
Further building under construction for engineering center
Entire complex has surface area of 50,000 m2
One billion euros invested in Hungary between 2004 and 2013
Budapest – On July 31, 2013, the Bosch Group opened its new Hungarian headquarters in Budapest in the presence of the Hungarian national economy minister. The new facility is home to 350 associates in sales, administration, and engineering, all of whom previously worked in neighboring rented premises. In total, the supplier of technology and services intends to invest some 100 million euros in Budapest by 2015. The location will have a total surface area of 50,000 square meters, which corresponds to roughly six football fields. The facility will also include an engineering center, which is currently under construction. Following the center’s completion in 2015, some 850 engineers will be relocated there from the rented offices they currently occupy.
Bosch has been present in Hungary since 1899. This investment underlines the company's long-term commitment to the country. As the member of the board of management Uwe Raschke said during the ceremony: “For us, Hungary is an important manufacturing and engineering location with highly-qualified and motivated associates. This investment is a symbol of our confidence that the country will continue its positive development.” By the end of 2013, Bosch will have invested approximately one billion euros in its Hungarian locations since 2004.
Bosch in Hungary In 2012, Bosch generated sales in Hungary including intercompany sales of more than 2 billion euros – that represents more than two percent of the country’s GDP and is an eightfold increase from ten years ago. Bosch in Hungary employs 8,500 associates in its business sectors Automotive Technology, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology.
Stuttgart-Feuerbach and Homburg locations are winners
Process efficiency and energy efficiency are clear competitive advantages
Bosch Group: 20 percent less CO2 by the year 2020
Stuttgart – Bosch receives two 2013 Lean & Green Efficiency Awards. The company’s Stuttgart-Feuerbach and Homburg manufacturing sites in Germany are awarded joint first place in the “automotive group/OEMs” category; performance at both locations impressed the jury enough for it to award first place twice. The Lean & Green Efficiency Awards recognize successful approaches to protecting the environment and conserving resources. Instead of viewing the environmental aspects of product development in isolation, the awards see them in the context of the manufacturing process itself, evaluating how energy and environmental considerations are dealt with through process efficiency and lean principles. “Receiving this double award underlines our conviction that economic and environmental interests are very compatible. They’re even mutually beneficial,” says Dr. Werner Struth, whose responsibilities as a member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH include production systems and environmental protection. “Increasing energy efficiency helps to protect the climate as well as improve our competitiveness,” Struth continues.
Award winner Stuttgart-Feuerbach: identifying waste “We do not tolerate waste. We’ve been implementing the principles of the Bosch Production System for more than ten years now. In the past, we systematically identified unnecessary waste in production and logistics processes,” explains Dr. Andreas Wolf, the technical manager of the Feuerbach plant. “Nowadays we’re just as systematic and meticulous in our endeavors to pinpoint energy waste,” he continues. Energy consumption at the Feuerbach plant has dropped by more than 40 percent since 2007. Total CO2 emissions fell by almost 50 percent in the same time period, while relative CO2 emissions (in relation to value added) dropped by more than 10 percent. Taking a smart approach to shutting off production machines, for example, can save enough energy in a year to supply 3,200 family homes.
Award winner Homburg: energy value stream reveals levers "We are improving our energy efficiency using the same methods we use to optimize our production processes. This illustrates the importance we give to combating resource waste. Our systematic approach is yielding great results,” explains Thomas Gönner, the technical manager at the Homburg plant. An energy value stream is used to ascertain how much energy is consumed at each stage in the process of manufacturing diesel injection pumps. “The energy value stream creates transparency. This is how we identify the levers that allow us to increase energy efficiency,” Gönner continues. The plant has implemented many energy-saving measures since the early 2000s. Gönner and his associates have managed to reduce energy consumption by a further 16 percent since 2007, for example by optimizing cleaning systems to improve their energy efficiency. Once optimized in this way, cleaning systems consume around 20 percent less energy, which enables the Homburg plant to save enough energy every year to supply some 1,400 family homes.
Bosch Group: 20 percent by 2020 Industry accounts for over 30 percent of all energy consumed worldwide. The Bosch Group aims to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its manufacturing sites by 20 percent by the year 2020, compared with the 2007 baseline. It also aims to improve its energy efficiency by 20 percent. In addition to grid-based energy supply Bosch generates energy from renewable sources such as hydroelectric power and photovoltaics at its locations in Germany and elsewhere. Upgrading the energy efficiency of manufacturing facilities and power stations helps to make the energy supply system more efficient overall. Associates’ awareness of energy-efficiency topics is raised through training events such as “energy experiences,” “energy schools,” and “energy days.” More than half of the technology and service company’s approximately 260 locations around the world are certified to ISO 14001, the global standard for environmental management systems. More information on this topic can be found online.
About the Lean & Green Efficiency Awards The 2013 Lean & Green Efficiency Awards will be presented at the beginning of November at the Lean & Green Summit. Awards in the categories “groups”, “OEMs”, and “SMEs” will be presented to representatives from both the automotive industry and the mechanical engineering sector. There will also be a special award for particularly outstanding performance. An independent jury drawn from science and industry decides on the winners.