Have you ever asked yourself how new solutions and smart technologies are created? Before you can use products at home, an extensive process takes place. Product Manager, Hans-Dieter Pfender from Gira, sketches the path from the idea to the finished product using the Gira motion detector Cube.
Gira editorial staff: Mr. Pfender, you're a product manager at Gira – what distinguishes your profession?
Pfender: My everyday life is characterised by a constant coordination process. I regularly communicate with many people, because our goal is to transform an idea into a marketable product. So it’s not a one-man show where I work alone behind closed doors.
Gira editorial staff: Which Gira products have you already worked on?
Gira editorial staff: Where do the ideas for these products come from?
Pfender: Basically we observe the market: What are the new technologies that are relevant for the product group, in my case, in the electronics area? What do Gira's competitors do? I also talk a lot with our customers, for example at trade fairs. And I'm in close contact with a company-owned department, "Technology Management" at Gira. Colleagues observe which new technologies are being developed worldwide. At joint meetings, it then becomes clear whether there is already experience with these new technologies and whether they can be used for Gira products or integrated into Gira solutions.
Gira editorial staff: Can you explain how the development process of a Gira product looks like with the help of the Gira motion detector Cube?
Pfender: Yes, gladly. With the Gira motion detector Cube, we gave a lot of thought to the design. This is because the existing products on the market are functional but do not take the design aspect into account. That's why it was important to us to develop a motion detector that fulfils the demand for a special design in addition to functionality and can be integrated harmoniously into existing architecture. I think that we have succeeded quite well with our Cube.
Gira editorial staff: That's right, the cube shape is strikingly discreet. Who had the idea for it and what happened next?
Pfender: The original idea of the cube shape was developed in the first brainstorming session. As a team, we thought about which features should a Gira motion detector have. Of course, this is good detection and a high product quality. The external appearance then also came into focus, as Gira is particularly distinguished by its successful design.
We then got off to a good start with a design draft. We then developed this draft in the project team into a feasible design that could be implemented in production. In the end, we presented the result to the management, who approved it.
Gira editorial staff: Then the Gira motion detector Cube went into production?
Pfender: Exactly. With this product, however, it was initially very complex to set up a production process due to the cubic shape.
Gira editorial staff: What was the challenge there?
Pfender: Here I have to go into some detail: When designing plastic, components are to be produced by injection moulding. One usually works with so-called draft angles to get the products out of the mould without damage. As a rule, right angles are not provided. Here, we invested a lot of effort into producing a cube-shaped component in the usual Gira quality.
Gira editorial staff: Apart from that, are there any general challenges in product development?
Pfender: On the one hand, we have the claim that our products can be installed quickly and easily by the electrical installer, but on the other hand, they should be of great benefit to the customer, fulfil a high design standard and prove themselves in everyday use. These are challenges that we approach anew with every product.
Gira editorial staff: What happens after the production of a new product?
Pfender: The test phase follows. The first samples are tested in field tests by selected customers and Gira employees. They then check whether the product functions are as intended or whether there are still problems from installation and commissioning to the actual application. If something is not right, we adjust the software, design or the production process accordingly.
Gira editorial staff: What happens after the test phase?
Pfender: With the delivery release, we begin to communicate to the market. Here, I coordinate closely with Gira Marketing. Together we determine which measures make sense, which images we use and which target groups we address. Of course, our trade fair appearances are also very important, above all is Light+Building, which takes place every two years in Frankfurt.
Gira editorial staff: When all this is done: Is your work on the product then finished or does it go on?
Pfender: As a product manager, I look after my products throughout their entire life cycle. And that can be quite a long time: When software was not yet a topic for electronic products, we had dimmers, for example, in our range unchanged for up to 20 years. That no longer works today. In the meantime, firmware naturally plays a central role in more and more devices. We maintain this regularly over the entire life cycle of the respective product. On the one hand, this enables us to optimise existing functions, but on the other hand, we can also use the software to introduce new functions without having to change the hardware. That's why new tasks that I work on regularly arise even with products that have been on the market for a long time.
Gira editorial staff: If you invest so much care in your products: What does it feel like to see your own product finished for the first time?
Pfender: A great pleasure! To see a product ready for series production for the first time can be compared a little to the birth of a child. To see how an idea has led to a successful product naturally makes me proud of what the Gira team has once again achieved and created.
Gira editorial staff: Thank you very much for the interview and interesting insights into your profession.