From Munich to Rome: the success story of our Pressure Compensation Seals

Annette Barth, Product Manager at Schreiner ProTech

Over the past few months Annette Barth has been explaining in a six-part blog series what Pressure Compensation Seals are, how many different applications exist for them and what benefits they offer compared to standard solutions. If you have followed our blog series with interest and are keen to delve deeper into the subject, we thought you might like to learn more about Annette Barth’s role. For more than three years Annette Barth has worked as Product Manager of Pressure Compensation Seals at Schreiner ProTech. During this time she has gathered extensive experience in this field. Here is her recent interview with the Schreiner Group blog.

What exactly are the duties of a Product Manager at Schreiner ProTech?
I am the interface between our customers or sales division and Technical Development. Together with customers and Sales I determine what products, product types and further developments are needed. Our customers’ requirements are at the forefront of our development program. I work with Technical Development to find possible solutions.

What do you like about your job?
It is very varied. I deal with a wide variety of challenges and subjects. I am privileged to have a holistic view of my products; I see a product variant through its entire life cycle, from the initial idea for an innovative product to its development, launch and marketing, and even through to end-of-life in some cases.

How did the product group ‘PCS’ – Pressure Compensation Seals – develop?
We have been producing Pressure Compensation Seals since 1997. Our particular strength lies in the development partnership with our customers. As is so often the case, it all started with a specific customer problem. An automotive industry customer discovered damage in a control unit. They identified insufficient ventilation as the cause of the defect, which resulted in overpressure, deformation and ultimately water entry. The standard solution at that time ‒ O-ring seals with liquid adhesive ‒ was not an option due to the customer´s production process. So we teamed up with the customer and developed a membrane solution that enables pressure compensation. What was special about this PCS was the coating which keeps water, dirt and other automotive specific liquids out of the housing. The self-adhesive attachment mechanism itself was verging on revolutionary: From the very beginning the PCSs were supplied on reels and could therefore be applied to the components at the customer’s facilities quickly and easily. This marked the birth of our PCSs! And they have been a great success ever since. We recognized that the product helped many of our customers. We are proud to say that sales of our PCSs increase by 15% to 23% each year!

How do you explain the success of the PCSs?
When developing new products we focus on the requirements of our customers. We do not see this as an empty promise ‒ it is our recipe for success. We offer either proven Standards, customized developments or a combination of both. Thus we find the perfect solution for every customer requirement.

PCS services: from product to inspection and application all from a single source

PCSs are relatively cost-efficient products. Supplied on reels, they are ready for automated application and do not require modifications to the housing. They are available as standard solutions or special variants for particular requirements such as steam-jet resistant HighProtect PCSs, tiny Mini PCSs or PCSs embedded in a nameplate. We supply the complete package from initial consultation and product development to services such as the provision of appropriate application systems or on-site training. Thus our customers can be 100% certain that everything works the way they want. With all their expertise our experienced service technicians ensure that the production processes are optimally adapted to one another. Our customers appreciate this full service.

In your role as Product Manager you are also in contact with customers. What are the most frequent reservations you hear about using PCSs?

Many customers think that an adhesive product does not offer the same security as a screwed solution. Here you need good arguments to convince your audience. I then explain that we adapt the adhesive perfectly to the individual substrate and all other framework conditions. After all, adhesion technology has been our core business for decades. When Schreiner labels have to stick fast, that’s exactly what they do. In addition, adhesion technologies are on the rise throughout different industries.Take the automotive industry, for instance; every vehicle contains 15 to 17 kg adhesive and adhesive tape, and the amount of applied adhesives is rising every year. These materials enable significant weight reductions to be achieved that would not have been possible otherwise. The glued bonds are extremely strong and totally reliable. Some customers have told us of material tests with two bonded component parts in which the adhesive bonds remained intact while the material itself failed. This makes us proud. However, adhesion is not always an option. Exceptions include environments involving high amounts of oil or aggressive chemicals. For these cases we offer ultrasonically weldable membranes.

How many PCSs does Schreiner ProTech sell per year?
We sell about 100 million items per year – placed end to end they would cover the distance from Munich to Rome.

How many variants exist?
Our standard PCS solutions comprise ten core products. In addition, there are about 100 special variants with different materials and composite materials available in all sizes. There’s something for everyone. Our strength is that we can offer every customer exactly the product he needs.

Do you mean that the PCS can be adapted specifically to my individual requirements?
Customizing products is one of our major strengths. Before starting product development our R&D division discusses all relevant questions with the customer. Where do you want to apply the PCS? What are the requirements for ventilation? What influences will the PCS have to withstand? What is the perfect size? In the next step our Product Developers decide whether we can offer a standard PCS or if a customized product is needed instead. Standard PCSs are available in small quantities and are generally more cost-effective. Special shapes and customized products are worthwhile if required quantities are high enough.

What developments are you planning for PCSs in 2015?
We have always offered holistic consulting and support from the product to its application. We see ourselves as a service partner for our customers in all aspects of ventilation. And now we plan to add a new service to our portfolio. We realized that many of our customers’ developers who have not yet used Pressure Compensation Seals have many questions about this product. We want to support them. In 2015 we will offer PCS user training on the basic principles of pressure compensation and the ways of integrating Pressure Compensation Seals into components. We will notify our customers by invitation and of course via our blog. We also enhance our service portfolio for Mini PCSs this year. We offer them together with an application system, thus enabling our customers to automatically apply the Mini PCSs at their facilities.  PCS HighProtect is a product which is of interest for many of our customers as well. We will develop it further through innovations such as laser engraving or TTR printing.

Like every other year, we have a few more innovations up our sleeves, but these are still top secret! If you have any further questions please send an e-mail to annette.barth@schreiner-protech.com.

Thank you very much for the interview, we have enjoyed working with you over these past months.

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