Patent searches as a signpost: the Lucerne company Bächli AG attunes itself to the current surge of innovations in transformer technology.
The elevator manufacturer Schindler, the company Müller Martini producing machinery for the graphic industry, or the railway vehicle producer Stadler Rail all rely on a Lucerne SME for a central component of their products - Bächli AG. The company manufactures customised transformers for these firms.
In the past ten years, Herbert Bächli, the owner of this family enterprise, has primarily focused on quality and a smooth cooperation with his customers in order to prevail against competitors from low-cost countries.
Now, however, a turnaround is visible as buyers are increasingly willing to pay more for exceptionally energy-efficient transformers. Innovation has consequently become a talking point in the branch and thereby also the theme of innovation management with suppliers.
Herbert Bächli intends to be at the forefront of this trend and makes a point of regularly reading market studies. However, these do not supply concrete information on the activities of individual companies, which is of particular interest to Herbert Bächli. His interest focuses not even on the plans of direct competitors but rather on innovations of potential suppliers. “At present, we are first and foremost looking for business partners who are developing new materials for transformer construction,” he explains.
In order to obtain concrete statements for individual companies, Herbert Bächli requested the IPI to carry out a patent search. It has already provided important insight: “So far, other transformer manufacturers haven’t made applications for any relevant patents.”
The company has not got quite as far with the evaluation of potential suppliers. This is due, not least, to the fact that the search to track them down is complex. Herbert Bächli has specifically appointed a scientist who is not only a physicist and electrical engineer but has also personally had inventions patented. “He’s found three interesting indications which we are following up,” he said.
So far, the entrepreneur has primarily been an observer. However, should no supplier for innovative components be found, Herbert Bächli will himself take action. Then the IPI will again play a part. Herbert Bächli: “I can well imagine that we will also submit a patent application at some point.”
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