What are people going to be drinking out of in five years’ time? Product management at Krones

Hi, my name is Torsten Kilgenstein, and since February 2014 I’ve been working as a patent officer in Product Management, Block and Conveyor Technology. My involvement with Krones began in 2010, in the Corporate Communications Department, where I was a hands-on participant in the beginnings of Krones’ social media work, which nowadays comes in for plenty of praise. Back then, I was tasked with formulating a concept for a corporate blog and the options for deploying it. Today, a few years later, as you can see, the blog has become an important constituent of communication work at Krones AG, and it’s my privilege to report to you here on my remit, and tell you a bit more about Krones as an employer.

A company’s success will depend largely on its ability to develop products, to place them profitably on the market, and to design their product lifecycle for optimum efficacy in actual use. In Product Management, we are accordingly tasked with planning, developing and marketing products. In our case, the product line we deal with is called Block and Conveyor Technology, a unit newly set up in 2014, with a remit covering the monobloc machines (like our “flagship”, the ErgoBloc L) and the conveyors, which thanks to a sophisticated control system ensure that our customers’ bottles get from A to B as smoothly as possible.

But what exactly do we do at Product Management? In contrast to a design engineer or one of the sales team, our daily remits do not involve customer interfacing; instead, we can concentrate our energies entirely on strategic issues. We identify future growth fields in regard to products (e.g. what are people going to be drinking out of in five years’ time? Cans, PET or glass? And how will the product actually be put inside the particular form of packaging concerned?) and markets (e.g. which countries will in future be exhibiting what kind of demand for packaged beverages?). We also focus, of course, on our clients and their needs, and initiate the development of concepts and machines that responsively meet these wishes. Needless to say that all this will function smoothly only if we know what is happening on the global market. For this reason, we collect information on our competitors, not least by visiting trade fairs all over the world, enabling us to build up a comprehensive picture of the sector’s trends and innovations.

 As the technological leader, we naturally enough also set ourselves high standards in regard to innovations and new technologies. In 2013, Krones ranked 22nd in all of Germany in terms of new patent applications. To make sure that we stay ahead of the pack in the future too, Product Management is tasked with securing for Krones AG the exclusive rights for manufacturing and marketing newly developed products by registering the relevant industrial property rights.

Another part of Product Management’s remit is to keep track of what is often a confusing “product jungle”. The module executives are tasked with maintaining a clear picture of our products’ different variants, and coordinating the introduction of new products and the discontinuation of old ones. They also ensure optimisation along the value creation chain, and attempt by means of appropriate measures to reduce the costs involved in manufacturing the products and increase the benefits for our clients.

 As you can see, the remit at Product Management is a highly diverse one, and indubitably anything but boring. Because as part of the Product Management team you’re privileged to already be involved in product development work at a very early stage or even initiate the development of new products, and your contribution to the project is so hands-on that you can share in shaping the company’s future. And that’s precisely what makes our work into an exciting new challenge every day.