Klaus-Günter Eberle & Kristina Eberle , CEO, Andreas Hettich GmbH & CO KG
Centrifuges are critical pieces of equipment for laboratories as centrifugation and centrifuge maintenance are crucial for testing. They are considered to be a significant investment since inadequate instruments can affect the test results adversely. Thus, the demand for high-quality centrifuges is high. Helping the various laboratories in the diagnostic market with reliable instruments is Andreas Hettich GmbH & CO KG, a global leader in the design and production of laboratory centrifuges and incubators.
A Century Old Legacy
Hettich was incepted in 1904 with an initial focus on surgical instrument components. After the emergence of centrifuges, the company embarked on a new journey by building and selling centrifuges to the diagnostic market. The company solely focused on the German market during their early decades and that was until Günter Eberle joined the company in 1951. Eberle expanded the company worldwide and eventually became the owner and the managing director of Hettich in 1956. After his demise in 2005, his son Klaus-Günter Eberle and his wife Kristina Eberle took over the leadership positions. Today, with over 450 employees across the globe, this Tuttlingen-headquartered company has grown to become a world market leader in medical equipment manufacturing (specifically in the robotic centrifuges segment).
Setting a Benchmark
The company’s primary focus is the diagnostic market and transfusion medicine. Due to this reason, there are a lot of regulations and documentation that comply with the EU Medical Device Regulations. Hettich makes sure there is no “work around” these regulations and invests in such compliance to keep their customers trouble-free in terms of the local requirements wherever the product is sold.
With an aim to expand their customer base, Hettich focuses on their end users which are diagnostic labs, and at the same time partners up with leading diagnostic companies as well. “You will hardly find an automated diagnostic line with no Hettich robotic centrifuge build in,” Klaus-Günter Eberle proudly states “We could only get into this top position because we do everything to provide high quality and reliability,”. Besides, the research labs in pharma and academia, and laboratories doing food analysis and quality control are intended to use only top laboratory products as the diagnostic and transfusion medicine market is backed up by proper regulatory compliance. Such labs utilize the company’s aftersales services like IQ/OQ and other procedures to establish a validated process. “Each industry has its own special requirements and we are trying our best to match these,” says Klaus-Günter Eberle.
“Quality and reliability which translates into a lifetime and the need for few maintenances and repair is the key to our success,” shares Klaus-Günter Eberle. Most importantly, the company is steadfast in working towards improving any affected parts of a unit and is known for their speedy response. Additionally, working under strict regulations has favored them to focus more on optimizing the existing portfolio rather than launching new products frequently. According to Klaus-Günter Eberle, this constant cycling between quality and regulation has led Hettich to the reliability they are known for today.
Another area of focus for Hettich is their service organization. This helps to ensure preventive maintenance and repair procedures worldwide. They train and certify their contracted partners and offer direct or second-level support to the market through their team specialists. These specialists are in Asia, Europe, and America in order to help in overcoming time differences and reducing the response time.
Hettich is an establishment that understands the importance of maintaining deep relationships with their customers. Therefore, partners are selected based on their capabilities to match Hettich’s requirements to assure customer satisfaction. The company has now over 100 contracted partners across the globe to give good coverage to their customers.
The company never backed away from serving their customers even during hard times. In 2020, when the pandemic struck and everyone was skeptical of going to hospitals or visiting other hot spots, Hettich was determined to overcome those challenges. After internal discussions, they decided to equip their German field service team with all kinds of protective masks, suits, gloves, etc., and continue to repair, service, and maintain the healthcare infrastructure. Klaus-Günter Eberle recalls how every member of the team was committed to this mission during those times.
The Core Principles
Klaus-Günter Eberle explains how they have their principles going in two directions. The foremost direction is focused on contributing to the well-being of their patients. Since centrifugation of a patient’s sample is usually a necessity for most laboratory diagnostics, Hettich intends to make this step as safe and reliable as possible. Every member of the team is dedicated to this cause and shows utmost enthusiasm in overcoming the pandemic-induced hurdles and logistics handicaps or any other troubles.
The second direction focuses on the inside of the organization. The company understands that in order to produce excellent results, people must enjoy their work. Consequently, the employees are granted good salaries, good work-life balance, and investment in training. Recently, the company has started new leadership training for all department heads to establish a common understanding of leadership and the principles behind it.
Even if the company has established a space for themselves in the market, they have always been working on new ideas and concepts. Hettich has just introduced a new robotic centrifuge for plates which is the only missing centrifuge in the robotic portfolio. Since the company has not covered this niche so far, the response from the market has been extremely positive. The integrators (the companies integrating robotic equipment into bigger workflows) admired the fact that the entire robotic portfolio can be run with the same protocol and a unit can be exchanged for another one with higher capacity easily. The company is also planning for an entire next generation of laboratory centrifuges with new interfaces and features that are bound to set a new benchmark in the industry.
Furthermore, Hettich is planning the expansion of their product line beyond centrifuges. As a result, HettCubes, a line of incubators for diagnostic labs and other applications, which was introduced in 2012, is getting lifted from the market for more products. “We are a family business; we want to hand over a healthy and solid company to the next generation,” concludes Klaus-Günter Eberle.