The development of the Marklkofen location since its beginnings in 1962 can only be considered a success story. Today, Marklkofen is probably the largest filter plant in the world, employing more than 3000 people and producing over 170 million filter elements a year. It was the first plant manager, Friedrich Ebertseder, who laid the foundations for this development, constantly making improvements to the plant and taking advantage of every opportunity for growth that came along. His successors have carried on in this spirit, too.

As I read the post by my predecessor Friedrich Ebertseder, one figure really jumped out at me: “In 1974, daily production exceeded the 100,000 mark for the first time, amounting to 100.915 filters.” At the time, this was a real milestone in Marklkofen’s success story. Since then, we have increased our production capacity sevenfold: on average, some 750,000 filter elements come off the assembly line here every day.

Despite its size and the incredible capacity of our employees, the site has still retained some of its characteristics from previous decades: the internal cohesion, respect for one another, the bond shared by the employees and the company, and the sense of passion and delight in calling this plant our workplace. In Friedrich Ebertseder’s era, people were proud to be ‘Marklkofeners’ – and this is still the case now. Our customers remark on this fact, too: “It is clear to see that your employees are proud and happy to work here.”

Greater autonomy, a changed portfolio

Of course, plenty has changed since the decades of development, too. The plant now has a great deal more autonomy, particularly with regards to responsibility for sales and profit. Plus, in the years that have passed since then, further important functions, such as the development and design of IAM products, have been relocated to Marklkofen. A further milestone on the road towards the plant’s autonomy was the extension of our validation and requalification testing capabilities in the development and testing centre, newly built in 2012.

The product portfolio has changed too: While spin-on and air filters dominated the market in Friedrich Ebertseder’s day, today it is cabin filters, metal-free filter elements and infrared welded fuel filter elements that represent our greatest growth areas. It is the growing health and environment-consciousness amongst our customers that has been the driving force behind this shift in the portfolio. It is also clear to see that the level of automation in production has significantly increased. Today, we have more than 150 robots in operation – carrying out even those tasks which were long believed to be impossible to automate. They work alongside a variety of sensors and optical control systems, which have replaced manual tasks such as control activities. Another change is that, thanks to IT, our production is almost entirely paperless, and processes across the entire company are now controlled via SAP.

Globalisation is a force that has caused every company in the world to make big changes – and of course our location is no exception. As a driver of innovation, Marklkofen has taken on a number of different functions within the international production network. For example, we support locations abroad with our technical expertise, in the planning and implementation of new production facilities and in the standardisation of production processes. These activities are headed up by our lead teams in the spin-on filter and air filter departments.

Always a few steps ahead of the competition

Marklkofen is well equipped for the future, but we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. From a business perspective, one of our key targets is to continue improving the location’s competitiveness in the face of constantly increasing price pressure. This alone, however, is not enough for us to hold our ground as a location – we also need to act as drivers of innovation. This is reflected in the amount of investment here, with the average figure for the past few years being EUR 13 million. With our innovative new products and processes, we aim to always stay a few steps ahead of the competition, set new benchmarks and launch products which help to keep our customers happy.

As Plant Manager, I would like to further strengthen our reputation as a highly socially responsible employer. Managers are tasked with putting the company values and our management guidelines into practice in their daily work. This is the only way to ensure the future of the emotional connection we all enjoy at this location.