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    The right information to the right person at the right time

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    15. February 2021
    11:35 min.
    Andreas Müller and Dr. Christian Philipp take a look at short-term makeshifts and long-term developments of the Krones Academy.
    • Dr. Christian Philipp (left), Head of Academy Projects and Products, and Andreas Müller, Head of the Krones Academy

    Mr. Müller, we had actually planned this interview for April 2020 – and then Covid-19 hit. To what extent has this global state of emergency affected training operations at the Krones Academy?
    Müller: To a crucial extent, I can definitely say that. In normal circumstances, approximately 1,500 training participants per year visit us here in Neutraubling alone. And in March when the coronavirus crisis started in Germany, this number saw a massive slump. That changed our day-to-day business, sure, but it also gave us some basic food for thought as to what we needed to do in order to remain viable. 
    We’ve had to make changes, right down to how we coordinate training: it has become imperative to coordinate each training event afresh, those for our own service technicians and for our clients’ staff alike, to match current restrictions. What makes things difficult is that the relevant regulations just keep on changing. We hold crisis talks on a daily basis, to ensure swift response and appropriate coordination. Our colleagues in charge of managing this are doing an admirable job.

    Can you give us an example of how the Krones Academy is coping with the current situation right now?
    Müller: Our improvised room solution is a vividly illustrating one. Many of our rooms here at the Academy in Neutraubling have been dimensioned to accommodate eight to ten training participants – at present, though, only three people are permitted per room. But we don’t have training groups as small as that. So we’re currently unable to use 80 per cent of our rooms, but we found a fit-for-purpose makeshift: “outdoor training rooms”, which we’ve set up in the training hall. What’s more, for the severely reduced number of visitors we’re currently hosting here for in-person training, we’ve implemented ultra-stringent cleaning protocols – even more strict than in other areas of our facility.

    Article 25058
    Andreas Müller took over as Director of the Krones Academy in June 2019 – since then, the relevance and availability of information has gained ever greater importance.

    These are measures you’re taking out of necessity, to tide the Academy over until the end of this exceptional situation. But are there also changes which you may wish to stick with for the future?
    Müller: Two questions are of long-term interest here: how are we coping with this new reality, and what type of business model have we devised for it? At the end of March, we said this was the right juncture to finally implement some things we’d been planning for quite a while. For the time has come to move training into the digital world. The coronavirus crisis has turned out to be the breeding ground and catalyst for this, forcing us to pursue an issue that had been on our minds for quite a long time: online training events in the virtual classroom.

    That means these online trainings are not a short-term measure to tide the Academy over but will in future be an integral part of its portfolio?
    Müller: Exactly, they are not a flash in the pan, but will become an additional main pillar to supplement our conventional training. You see, this online option is also attractive for our clients since they don’t have to send their employees to us for every training session, thus saving costs for travel and accommodation. So the online variants are a modular supplement, available on demand. Mind you, depending on the subject matter, they cannot replace in-person training 100 per cent.

    What sort of mood do you currently perceive among clients – is their attitude towards advanced training changing? And to what extent are they prepared to book online trainings?
    Müller: That varies widely from customer to customer – some are using the forced break for training whereas others are saving on training costs now more than ever.

    Philipp: You see, our clients first of all need us to sell them on the idea of “online training”: how can such a virtual training actually work, what is the value added?

    Müller: To give you an example: many people think online training is the same as a webinar, a YouTube tutorial or the open university. But the distinctive feature of our online training is that we’re creating the same sort of interaction that we would have when holding in-person training sessions here on site.

    Article 25057
    Dr. Christian Philipp has played a key role in the development of new training formats.

    What sort of experience have you gained so far in this regard? Is genuine interaction actually possible in virtual training?
    Müller: It works better than we thought! We’re predominantly using Microsoft Teams for this, which offers us a good range of functionalities. However, just as with in-person trainings it will only be possible to achieve meaningful interaction if we limit the number of participants. You see, an instructor can only see whether everyone has got the message and understood all of it properly with a manageable group size, and that goes for online training just as it does for conventional courses. This is precisely one of the salient qualities of good training and a good instructor: following up on certain points and explaining them again in more detail as soon as the instructor notices that not everyone has fully understood everything.

    Krones held its first online training sessions in June. The Academy was ahead of the curve, wasn’t it?
    Müller: Yes, we did in fact get some feedback from a large international player in the softdrinks sector, telling us we were the first to offer virtual training. What helped us here no doubt was that we quickly found some clients who were prepared to test the online variant together with us – and that we got some encouraging feedback from key accounts quite early on.

    Philipp: At the same time, we’re noticing that clients are grateful for the alternatives we’re proposing: when they depend on such training events, we offer them an option for actually holding them.

    This means that frequently the client hasn’t approached Krones and asked for training but rather Krones is proactively offering them a solution?
    Müller: Exactly. For existing orders, particularly, which we’re now unable to execute as ordered, we reach out to the customer and offer a solution, such as an online training. And many clients are grateful for this.

    I want our clients’ staff to take home with them the self-confidence of having the knowledge and insights they need to meet and master any requirements and challenges they might encounter in their daily work routines Erwin HächlDr. Christian PhilippHead of Academy Projects and Products

    15. February 2021
    11:35 min.

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