‘A limited aspiration is sometimes harder to achieve than an unlimited one.’ – Leopold von Ranke
Modern building technology from Gira stands for convenience, security and energy efficiency. The staff at Gira work on a great variety of intelligent functions and the user-friendly devices with unlimited aspiration.
Who at Gira sets the standards, defines the targets, develops and makes sure that really everything can taken ‘into the field’ beautiful and functioning? In the course of the first conversation it is already clear: people. Interesting, inquisitive and open personalities with varied capabilities and task areas in very different positions keep a firm eye on the interests of the company.
‘For me things are especially beautiful when they support a product’s task.’ Thomas Musial, Manager at Gira
We talk to Thomas Musial, Manager alongside Alfred A. Bulitz and Dirk Giersiepen (as the great-grandson of Richard Giersiepen he is managing the company in the 4th generation) – for a bit longer than one year he has been managing sales and the customer centre. Since 2014 at the company, and accordingly still with a fresh view, he agrees to answer our questions and greets us in a conference room in the sales centre, which he has picked out as one of his favourite places. Why here? ‘Here is where the competence of lots of people in the company comes together. Here different ideas are combined with a lot of creativity. For me these are the best rooms we have.’ He adds: ‘A company exists because one person alone cannot do it all!’ The focus in this company clearly lies in collaboration, common development, and communication with each other. We hear a statement like this with every conversation partner that we meet. Always a little differently oriented, but in essence always the same: the team, the cohesion, the communication.
A feeling of comfort develops with the people who are around us
The conversation continues quite emotionally: questions about personal aspiration, the quality of the living space, and the wish for a feeling of comfort are taken seriously and thus answered. ‘The Gira employees are inspired by the thought that people feel better as a result of their products,
systems and services.’ Down-to-earth and pleasantly unpretentious Mr Musial continues: ‘a feeling of comfort is closely linked to a feeling of ‘well-being’ and thus not necessarily dependent on a space, but especially on the people who are around us. When it is then a question of sense of space and atmosphere, an environment in which people can feel good together, then we come into play.’ If it is nevertheless a question of perception using all the senses, the tactility of products, the intuitive operation of systems, sound quality and the regulation of audio sources, the aesthetically coordinated design lines etc., … then a warm feeling comes over one when the term building technology is used. Without any technology whatsoever, too.
Hand in hand with architects
Gira understands something about a feeling of well-being. Gira employees can communicate, and we simply enjoy having the products around us, with their design, the perfect finish and high end technology inside. Close cooperation exists with architects and planners. ‘When you see the architects as the advocate for his building client, with his cumulative expertise he reflects for us what he experiences in the course of the day. This is indispensable information which we use to orient ourselves within the framework of production development,’ according to Thomas Musial. The experience of his employees shows that building automation is not yet a matter of course for many planners. However, demand is incre
sing for building automation that makes everyday life easier for end users. At Gira a wide variety of supporting components come together, enabling each client to realise his individual wishes and his individual needs for comfort, security, and energy efficiency together with his advisor.
Every beginning contains magic: the product development
Change of location. Hartmut Heinbach and André Dornseiff are ready, very friendly, smiling, and open for what are for them somewhat unusual questions. Dornseiff is a hardware developer, he creates the architecture of the system, is responsible for the fitting of the individual functions. Which means: everything that is inside the frame, inlay and casing, as an on-wall or in-wall system, and equipped with various modules (camera, keys, light and the functions and connections) is conceived and put into shape by people like him. In the meantime Hartmut Heinbach deals with the software, programmes, plans, and writes source texts for prototype software, programmes, tests, extends further performance features, so that programmes develop, which allow the camera to film, images to be transferred, and the bell to ring. For both colleagues harmonious collaboration is very important. Because here too the conversational tone, the aspirations with regard to their own work, and the permitted freedom to work as required all play an important role. The aspiration to produce good work oneself, in order that the colleague can work on properly, is emphasised repeatedly. The confidence in one’s own capabilities, the appreciation of their skills by Gira, the great passion for tinkering around, and the ambition: ‘That MUST work somehow!’ have been components of their daily work for years.
Optimism and researcher spirit
Where do the two get the optimism that everything will always work? André Dornseiff recalls a tale from his youth: my friends and I wanted to build a tridem – a bike for three people. We had three bicycles. Then we remembered that they taught welding in the vocational school nearby, so we went round there, and with us they welded the bikes together. The rest was tinkering around. We simply did these things. And today it is still a bit like that, too. There is a target and we get started, building on our experience, researching, looking for solutions and testing – until the baby sees the light of day!’ Heinbach is more solemn. He says: ‘children are born in pain – and that is true of developing, too.’ In the year 2000 the two faced what was probably one of the most important tasks in their careers. Door intercom systems in the switch programme. Beautiful, small and technically perfect. The greatest challenge was to design the hardware so small that it fitted into the classic flush-mounting box – and the acoustics of the intercom system. At the time experts told them that the task could not be solved. You could not have microphone and loudspeaker so near to each other without getting feedback. Much earlier this would really have been impossible. Dornseiff’s and Heinbach’s vision for the future? A uniform commissioning tool for Gira. Where currently individual BUS components are separately being programmed and parameterised, all systems will grow together. That sounds like the birth of ‘twins’. Product development is – like the creation of architecture – a creative process: the target is defined, but not the route. There are innumerable possibilities. ‘We conceive something, not knowing whether it is actually feasible. We can only dare to do something like that because we work in our core skills, because we are very critical with ourselves, and because we have a good gut feeling.’ Hartmut Heinbach couldn’t have finished the conversation on a better note.
Gira Sensotec was first presented at the Light & Building 2014, and has been available since February 2015. The Gira in-house development offers more security in the dark by automatically switching on an orientation light when recognised movement is detected in the long distance detection area. Whilst the Gira Sensotec uses dimmed room light for this function, the Gira Sensotec LED features an integrated LED orientation light. With a movement in the short distance detection area of 5 centimetres the undimmed room light can be switched on without the need for physical contact.
Sensotec automatically more security and orientation in the dark. The Gira Sensotec switches on dimmed room light as soon as movement is registered in a predefined long distance detection area. The movement recognition uses the principle of the Doppler effect, allowing precise detection even at high temperatures. When more light is required, the undimmed light can be switched on touch-free with a movement approximately 5 centimetres from the sensor.
Sensotec LED The Gira Sensotec LED has an integrated orientation light. In this way it combines for the first time the function of a motion detector, and LED orientation light, and a touch-free switch in one device. Like the Gira Sensotec, the Gira Sensotec LED also works using sensor
technology based on the Doppler effect. In case of recognised movement the integrated LED light lights up the environment unobtrusively, thus providing orientation in the room.
Gira Esprit Linoleum-Multiplex combines for the first time in a switch programme two natural materials which complement each other perfectly. The high quality frames are characterised by careful material selection and a precisely crafted finish. Uniquely filigree and yet simultaneously extremely robust frames develop out of many working steps and constant quality control. Both Multiplex and linoleum consist of renewable raw materials, are robust and are extremely versatile in use. Frames in six attractive colours offer scope for multiple combination possibilities.
Cleverer Bonus and lean management
When one hears what is behind the term ‘Cleverer Bonus’, one sees the work of the Gira employees in production and fitting through completely different eyes. ‘But it has become normal to think about making possible alterations. Everyone knows that they do not have to accept what doesn’t appeal to them. And that change is nothing to be afraid of, but is rather part of daily life.’ This statement by an employee makes it clear how far the company has been penetrated by the idea of taking over responsibility for one’s own actions. Markus Stucke is team coordinator in Segment 4 and responsible for the coordination of some 30 employees. Before his time at Gira he was already a shift leader, he is trained in matters of people management. Yet at Gira everyone with his level of responsibility has the same degree of expertise. Whether holiday coordination, preferences in the working areas, small disagreements, or larger optimisations – Markus Stucke deals with it. Answering the question as to whether the introduction of the Cleverer Bonus doesn’t put employees under enormous pressure, he laughs and says: ‘Our improvements make each employee more successful. This success, coupled with financial and spoken recognition, makes everyone more content. If the results are good, then that is surely good for Gira, and also for every single one of us. It is never dry daily work, never an order issued from above – it is always our actions, our ambition, and our aspiration with regard to the tasks of the current shift.’ Stucke shows us his latest optimisation work within the framework of lean management, and our architects’ hearts beat faster. A perfectly produced cardboard model of a packing station for E2 and standard 55 frames with viewing window on a 1:1 scale. This model is the result of a systematic improvement process for which Stucke and his colleagues were trained for 6 months. Today he knows exactly how he can move from a complex problem situation to an overriding solution. It takes 2-3 months before such an optimisation can be completed and goes into the Gira in-house furniture workshop, before the cardboard colleague becomes an ergonomically perfect, working step-optimised working place which is the result of development by the entire Segment 4 team.
In 2015 Gira was once again one of the winners of the ‘Germany’s Best Employer’ awards.
In the sense of family-friendly company policy Gira reached another milestone in October 2014: supported by the town of Radevormwald the company built a day care centre for children on its site. During the planning, particular attention was paid to wellbeing and design. The building fits well into the sloping landscape on the site and naturally into the environment. Renewable building materials took precedence over conventional materials – for example a wooden construction supports the green roof.
People, environment, production – a sound experience
What do sustainability and music have in common? At first glance perhaps not that much – but at Gira they can no longer be separated from each other. Because Jan Böttcher is Sustainability Manager at Gira and extremely musical. He sings, is a trained choir leader and plays the cello. As an economist he chose sustainable company management as his main focus. Jan Böttcher wrote his diploma thesis as practical work at Gira and thus introduced the subject of sustainability into the company. Not that it did not exist in the company before. The field of environmental protection, careful use of resources in production, and the wellbeing of the employees had always played a role. However the role had still to be defined and organised according to a uniform principle. The threads have now been coming together in Jan Böttcher and the sustainability committee for three years. He has become the interface between all levels, bringing the individual departments together, working out individual strategies, and is nearby when it is a question of implementation. The topic of business ethics is especially important for him. It runs like a thread through the conversations with him. The ethical and moral obligations, internal and external value management, and the question of striving for profit with the aim of prosperity compared to pure growth form the basis of his daily work. On the other hand, the results are as solid as an analogue light switch. For example Gira presents the current Gira Esprit Linoleum-Multiplex switch programme – consisting of the renewable raw materials linoleum and multiplex and an improved environmental balance when compared to conventional frames made of polycarbonate material. In everyday work employees from production and fitting earn Cleverer Bonuses, optimise working processes in their microcosms, and pull together as a team. The Gira day care centre (naturally a low energy building with a grass roof) and the option for everyone to make free uses of a gym near the company, are often mentioned enthusiastically, but it only rings really true when employees and managers in the corridor arrange to meet each other later for a workout. His work as a choir leader helps Jan Böttcher to listen attentively to those different opinions and aspects that are part and parcel of sustainable behaviour, before bringing them together coherently.
‘Philosophy, technology and social sciences have to encounter each other more often. They ought to find a common language.’ – Eberhard von Kuenheim (born 1928, German top manager at BMW until 1999)
Architects are not the inventors of holism and of interdisciplinary working. Summarising we can certainly say of Gira that in this company a common language has been found. Whether aesthete, technology nerd, or upholder of moral standards – the symbiosis of each individual with their own motivation, the drive to research, and emotionality makes valuable personalities out of the employees, and makes just one thing out of a company for electronic installation technology: namely Gira.
Product photos: Gira report photos: Daniel Sumesgutner www.gira.de