WERMA: Signaling Technology to Help the World
Red light, green light is a popular American children’s game. We all know from an early age that red means stop, green means go and yellow means caution. These universal safety signals are found in schools, factories, and streets around the world. All telling people when to go, stop, and slow down.
Safety lights are a specialty of one particular German company that has been on the forefront of producing these types of signals for 60 years. WERMA Signaltechnik is one of the world’s leading companies for optical and audible signal devices. The company’s warning lights make working environments safe and processes efficient and can be found on machines or systems, in factory halls, or in the building services industry.
“It all began with a hair dryer,” explained Matthias Marquardt, WERMA’s president and nephew of the founder. “My uncle started in the business of hair dryers and motors in the 1950s and then realized there was a stronger need for signal devices in the industrial world. A few years into the business WERMA began producing special switches for automatic timers and then buzzers and horns.”
Always a family-owned company, WERMA is in its third-generation of family management with a workforce of approximately 250 employees in Germany and other subsidiaries around the globe. All this from founder Werner Marquardt who had a talent in technical design and inventiveness. His free time was spent in his workshop tooling around with new ideas. In fact, after coming up with the hair dryer design, Werner Marquardt decided to be self employed and worked in a back dining room of a restaurant where his father was born. Soon after, his brother, Erich, joined the small company as another engineer. By 1954, their cousin Karl joined the fledgling company and brought with him business experience from the West. Karl was a dominant member of management until his retirement in 1974.
Within a decade of its founding, WERMA had established itself in the signal technology marketplace and was proud to present its products at the Hannover Fair in 1964. This fair continues to be the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology and is staged annually in Hannover, Germany.
Today, WERMA produces more than 3,500 signal devices that inform or warn people, show the current status of machines or even pass information on to computers. These products are developed in six different categories:
- Optical signal devices. These devices blink, flash or rotate and are built in a variety of colors and shapes that provide safe reliable signaling for control panels, alarm systems, gates or airports.
- Audible signal devices. These signals are available in a variety of shapes and sounds, from buzzers to loud sirens to droning horns and are used in labs, factory buildings, and on construction sites.
- Optical-audible sign devices. Where there is a need to increase awareness with both sight and sound, these devices can be applied to machines and alarm systems.
- Explosion-proof signal devices. Found in the animal feed industry, refineries, cement factories or wherever sparks may cause an explosion in dusty or gaseous environments.
- Signal towers. These are modular and completely pre-assembled.
- Systems for Process Optimisation in Production, Assembly and Logistic Areas. These new products consist of machine data collection systems, manual call systems, and wireless call systems.
Yellow lights warn us to proceed with caution. However, WERMA ensures that its customers don’t have to be cautious about quality when it comes to their products. WERMA is certified in compliance with DIN EN ISO 9001: 2008. This outside quality credentialing organization demonstrates that WERMA products and processes are continually tested for uniformly high quality. “Made in Germany” is a proudsymbol at WERMA. To ensure this quality, the company manufactures its own plastic components, electronics, tools, devices and systems to be used in its products. Customers expect high quality when they see a “Made in Germany” seal because Germany is well known for its great innovation, attention to detail, and future-oriented engineering technology.
WERMA also prides itself on its technological advances. The company carries out its own research and product development in its on-site optical and acoustic laboratories where they test and inspect every new idea. The company uses a “lean production process” and intelligent automation that allows them to be both flexible and quick. This process moves in continuous intervals with new products added to the existing portfolio or old products going through a “facelift.” These improvements make the products more attractive to meet customers’ needs and expectations. It also eliminates waste and makes the production processes more efficient and value-adding. This focus on research and development enables WERMA to be competitive and to keep its current market position.
For the past two years, WERMA has been recognized with a TOP 100 award for being an innovative German medium-sized company. This highly prestigious award was developed by Dr. Nikolaus Franke, professor for entrepreneurship and innovation for the School of Economics in Vienna. Companies are reviewed on the basis of innovation used in the areas of management, culture, processes, and marketing. “Every award is special for WERMA,” said Matthias Marquardt. “It honors the company as well as the employees’ ambition, effort, and achievement.”
Green light, of course, means go and WERMA employees receive the company support they need to really go places and move ahead in the organization. WERMA offers a modern working environment with attractive benefits, an outstanding company atmosphere, and a location that is renowned for its quality of life. “Employees who are satisfied with their jobs, management, advancement opportunities, and benefits tend to stay longer and be more productive at their jobs,” said Matthias Marquardt. This company philosophy has seen results. The average length of service at WERMA is 10 years with 19 employees working there for more than 20 years. The employee-oriented personnel policy includes company-sponsored day care centers, health care programs, and free salads and fruits. “Our environment is based on trust and respect and offers the team the opportunity to work in a caring human climate,” continued Marquardt.
In addition, every employee has the opportunity to participate in further education programs. WERMA provides employees with the chance to improve their know-how, gain more personal experience, and to bring a higher value to the company. Outside WERMA, the organization supports local colleges and universities as a sponsor by providing vocational training opportunities and skilled labor positions in house. Marquardt explains: “We fulfill our social responsibility by supporting social, cultural, and regional institutions in a wide variety of ways through our corporate giving program.”
Whether it’s a green light for employee success or a red light to keep factory workers out of harm’s way, WERMA continues on its mission to create signaling technology to help the world become a better place to live and work.