Conergy takes on apprentices after First Solar plant closure17. July 2012 | By: Conergy
System supplier remains committed to its Frankfurt (Oder) location and keeps its focus on module production.
Conergy continues to show its confidence in its Frankfurt (Oder) location. After the closure of the First Solar plant, it will take on several of that company's apprentices in its module production area so that they can continue their training as electronics technicians. This step has been initiated by the mayor of Frankfurt (Oder) Martin Wilke and Sven Klaus Starke, Managing Director of Conergy SolarModule GmbH & Co. KG in a one-to-one conversation. The market remains difficult, but Conergy finds itself well placed thanks to its strategy of temporarily focusing on module production in Frankfurt (Oder) and reducing the vertical manufacturing depth.
"By taking on the apprentices from First Solar, Conergy is clearly showing its confidence in Germany and in the town of Frankfurt (Oder) as manufacturing locations", says Sven K. Starke, Managing Director of Conergy SolarModule in Frankfurt (Oder). "We want to give these young specialists the opportunity to complete their training and provide them with prospects for the future in our region and our industry. Last year, Conergy set the course for its future success and it is now seeing the first results. So in 2012 we will be continuing to work on improving our competitiveness. The cuts we had to make were necessary in face of the strong competition, but now we feel we can once again be cautiously optimistic about the future."
The mayor of Frankfurt (Oder), Martin Wilke adds: "We are delighted that Conergy has committed itself to providing places for apprentices in our region. This shows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for this industry, despite the current difficulties in the solar market. And of course we are particularly pleased that Conergy seems to have made decisions with stabilizing effects and is back on the right track."
In 2011, Conergy repositioned itself as a system supplier. In future, its focus will be on its global sales activities and its growing service business. Conergy is keen to expand these areas still further by increasing its business in existing markets and opening up new markets. In parallel to this, Conergy has reduced its vertical manufacturing depth. As part of this strategy, the Group sold its electronics subsidiary voltwerk electronics to the Bosch group. It has also focused its plant in Frankfurt (Oder) on module production and temporarily halted production of cells and wafers.
"With the current set-up we can continue to control the quality, product design and processing of our modules, thanks to our highly-automated manufacturing processes", says Starke. "We now source the cells from selected suppliers in Asia who are continuously audited by around 30 of our quality engineers. In this way, we have the benefit of Asian manufacturers' economies of scale but still maintain the same premium quality. It also means we are less affected by price fluctuations and can save on transport costs. So we feel we are well placed to operate our module production in Frankfurt (Oder) profitably over the coming years."
Conergy can fly in the cells from Asia within just 24 hours and integrate them into the modules straight away. In contrast, it would take around 6 weeks to import a module by sea. This bears high risks in such a volatile market: for example, in 2011 prices fell by up to 15% in the space of six weeks, so by the time a module arrived it would have lost a significant amount of its value. Another benefit is the cells' much lower weight and volume. This means the system supplier can make savings of 50% on its transport costs.