Doctors around the world use these endoscopy devices to operate on damaged knees – a high tech medical tool made by Rudolf Medical company in Tuttlingen. Yvonne Glienke heads a company that helps promote the regional medtech cluster.
She scouts for new markets and makes contacts. One challenge is the US market under President Donald Trump. “The companies here are taking the trade barriers in stride that Trump wants to put in their way.”
Some 400 companies in the Tuttlingen region are focused on exports, and their biggest market is the United States. The Rudolf company is among them. It uses robots to manufacture surgical instruments.
These scissors have a special design. They’re rust-free and can be mass produced. More than 70 percent of them are sold abroad. These scissors were made by Ulrich Rudolf’s grandfather more than 100 years ago. Since then, the company has survived many economic crisis.
Today, Rudolf offers some 4 thousand different products. Tuttlingen supplies hospitals around the world. “If we stopped exporting from the Tuttlingen area, the US would have a big problem. Blocking exports would surely backfire. Technologically, the US is definitely not at the same level as the Tuttlingen area in terms of in-house production of medical technology.”
Two hundred kilometers away, the Herrenknecht company is also focused on exports. Herrenknecht builds tunnel boring machines.
This one has just been completed and is on its way to the Brenner Pass in Italy. Each tunnel boring machine is one-of-a-kind, made to order for the customer. The US market is promising for Herrenknecht.
The country is in need of new roads and tunnels. But for the time being, a maximum of only 10 machines per year make it over to the US. Company founder Martin Herrenknecht is constantly on the go, visiting construction sites around the world.
If Trump puts up trade barriers, the specialty machines by Herrenknecht will find use elsewhere. “Yesterday I flew from San Diego, changed planes in San Francisco, and in 10 hours I was in Germany. But it’s not just air travel that has made the world really small – also IT networks, computers and cell phones – We’re all interlinked. Now there’s no going back, even though you might be able to slow it down a bit. But whoever slows down the process loses out.”
Back in Tuttlingen, the Rudolf company has invited business partners from France and the US to visit its production facilities. They’re looking for new collaboration opportunities in Germany.
Rudolf exports to 85 countries. Carl Graeb travelled here from Minnesota. The German consultant knows the American medical technology market inside and out. “Nobody wants protectionism. There are about 700 medical technology firms in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area – international companies like 3M, Medtronic, Boston Scientific, St. Jude – all of them operating globally. Not a single firm is interested in isolating itself, either within or outside the market.”
If Donald Trump gets his way, protectionism would disrupt long-established business ties. But people are still remaining calm – at least here in provincial Germany, where exporters value good old fashioned common sense.
Source: DW News Channel on Youtube