Scheidt and Bachmann is a household name when its comes to PARCS systems. Their factory is in Monchengladbach, Germany, a suburb of Dusseldorf. I arrived at about 8 PM, picked up my car, and was at my hotel by 9. The next morning it was S and B. Their headquarters building:
Their campus is huge, with factory buildings and parking areas for their 1,000 employees. I was given a tour and discovered that Scheidt and Bachmann, unlike many manufacturers of PARCS, actually MAKE everything they sell — that is from the raw materials out. Here is a laser cutter forming steel sheeting for a POF Machine:
I know of only one other company that manufactures to this level. My tour was conducted by their head of bid management and former head of US operations, Otto Boenkenkamp and their marketing and communications manager, Sigune Heinze.
It is difficult to describe the scale of the S and B operation. I truly believe that if they wanted they could produce automobiles in this plant. Their product line does go beyond PARCs and includes ticketing equipment (for rapid transit), fuel pumps for gas stations, and access control from turn styles to huge gates used at level railroad crossings.
I gave Otto and Sigune my presentation but I really wanted their input. They told me that they felt that the internet was the coming thing and the way to get their message to their potential buyers. We discussed trade shows and of course, in Europe, such events are extremely important to them. The Intertraffic show in Amsterdam is attended by over 20,000 people from all over the world. They see this and others (like Parkex, Parken in Germany, Parkopolis in Paris and the EPA) as ways to reach their existing customers as well as find new ones.
I explained that such events are not as well attended in the US with only about 800 or so organizations that have parking needs (airports, cities, universities, etc) attending the IPI, and about 500 PIE. When that compares with about 30,000 potential customers in the US, the numbers are staggering. We agreed that you need to use all types of media to reach your market, with trade events being only one.
Otto felt that the customer interface (POF, Entry dispenser, etc) was important, but that the software the backed it up was key to the system that was purchased. He stressed that the information that was collected and the way it was displayed to the owner and operator was a major difference between manufacturers.
We walked past rows and rows of equipment with attached sheets denoting their destinations in countries like Australia, Israel, Angola, Germany, the UK, and the US. I was told that each system is set up in its entirety before shipment and tested with all pieces connected as they will be in the field. Most impressive, Scheidt and Bachmann.
Now back on the road to Kiel.