Over the past six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the world’s economy, and the HVAC&R industry is no exception.
To shed light on the effect of the pandemic on the Japanese HVAC&R industry, Accelerate Japan (published by shecco, publisher of Accelerate and Accelerate24.news) is conducting a series of interviews with Japanese HVAC&R suppliers on how they are adjusting to “the new normal” as well as the opportunities that have arisen for the industry.
In the following interview, Tomohiro Satake, Key Account Manager and Patrik Raich, Manager, Application Engineering for Güntner Asia Pacific discuss how the company is dealing with the challenges posed by COVID-19.
// Accelerate Japan: Overall, what impact has COVID-19 had on business operations?
Satake and Raich: At a global level, Güntner has taken immediate actions and made extensive efforts to manage the extremely uncertain and challenging situation. With our policy of strict and continuous measurements, we were able to grant maximum security and reliability to our customers.
Overall, we fortunately saw a very low impact on our business. In Japan, our market share increased and the positive feedback of our partners has also confirmed this trend.
In addition, for more than nine decades, our company has stood for restless engagement to drive our product development. Even though COVID-19 complicated some procedures, it forced our willingness to push our efforts towards better solutions.Earlier this year, we launched our new HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point)-certified Dual Compact air cooler in Asia – the perfect solution to meet high hygiene standards. We are very happy that this product has found great interest in the market. Furthermore, we currently have many interesting new CO2 projects in Japan.
// Accelerate Japan: How have your marketing and promotional activities been affected?
Satake and Raich: As with so many other things, even our marketing – or shall we say how to market – has seen major changes.
We as Güntner are moving the way of digitalization consequently and completely. This includes all of our doings and all of our interests.
// Accelerate Japan: How do you manage your business differently now?
Satake and Raich: Our world of doing our internal business has changed radically, quasi-overnight. Fortunately, this crisis found us well prepared. Due to the great and intensive investments in our digitalization over the past two years, we were able to continue our office business 100%, without any impact – from everybody’s home office!
Each factory had, and still has, an intensive and reliable set up to ensure the most stable working environment possible. The pandemic didn’t change our reliability too much but it greatly changed our way of working together remotely.
Spark Radiance – the digital innovation hub of Güntner Group – is taking care of setting up relevant tools and software within our company in order to drive our digitalization strategy. This gives us the opportunity to be always well-equipped with new tools. Microsoft teams and a new webinar platform, for example, were recently added.
// Accelerate Japan: How has your communication with your customers changed?
Satake and Raich: While the communication with our customers has always been key for our business, all physical meetings were, for obvious reasons, switched to online communication.
Thanks to our Güntner Virtual Reality tool as well as our informative factory videos and detailed product presentations, online communication with our customers is working very well and we are able to continue supporting our customers.
// Accelerate Japan: What are your current priorities?
Satake and Raich: The demand for natural refrigerants – especially CO2 – is increasing and we clearly underline its importance.
Furthermore, and regardless of any other crisis, we understand the need for reliable, energy efficient and sustainable products to reduce the impact of our technologies on the climate.
In Japan, we see the potential for our newly designed gas coolers with “HydroPad” humidification pads for adiabatic pre-cooling. This solution combined with our outstanding “Motor Management System” enables more efficient operation of refrigeration systems throughout the year.
// Accelerate Japan: What are the main lessons learned in times such as these that you would like to share with HVAC&R colleagues in Japan?
Satake and Raich: The topic of digitalization has been top of mind for a long time already and the last months have proven more than ever the importance and advantages of a digital world.
We are absolutely sure that the use of these new tools will continue to increase and lead to more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable work.