Peter Grolmus – CTO at Ekofluid GmbH
Driving innovation in transformer oil treatment
Oil treatment equipment today looks the very same as it looked many years ago, can you explain why?
Indeed, you are correct. Most oil treatment equipment on the market is still being build the same way it was built twenty or even forty years ago. Sure, some of the components themselves have changed, but the overall design and, most importantly, functionality remains the same.
To me, it seems there is an evident lack of innovation in the field. Do you know why? We have done several surveys and talked to many of our longer-term customers, and we have found out that the innovation push will not come from them. They were all happy with their current equipment. They had procedures set up to operate and maintain that equipment, and more importantly, they had people trained to handle the equipment. When we analysed this, we realized that the drive for innovation would not come from the customers, and therefore it had to come from us.
So, you are saying that the innovations that you have introduced on the market in recent years were not customer-driven?
Indeed, you are correct. The innovations were pushed by us, the manufacturer. The moment we have found out that the push will not come from the customers, we first needed to answer the big question. Is there even a need for innovation in the oil treatment field? Surprisingly, this question was quickly answered. All we had to do is look around at our component suppliers, at the tools we used in production.
Basically, everywhere around us, there were innovations. We even had suppliers coming to us saying that we have these great new exciting products on the market and asking why we are not using them in our equipment.
That is interesting. What was your reply?
Well, the initial reply was that our customers do not want them but after some consideration the reply has changed to: “We do not know how they will benefit our customers.” And after this realization, everything changed. We have stopped looking for ways to innovate our equipment because we wanted to do innovation, but we asked ourselves the most important questions. How can we make our equipment better for our customers through innovation?