"Picking up and taking along people"

Interview with Alexander Schulze Forsthövel, Business Unit Manager of ME Engineering GmbH

ME Engineering EMSR Planning
How it works: Good EMSR planning is the beginning of process automation

A prerequisite for successful manufacturing is that processes run optimally. ME Engineering GmbH ensures this. Throughout North Rhine-Westphalia, it brings its expertise in the areas of process and manufacturing automation as well as EMSR technology into the manufacturing companies and shows itself to be flexible – not just in terms of its services, but also regarding the sectors. Companies from plant construction as well as the manufacturing industry, chemical, and energy companies rely on the competence from Marl.

'Glückauf' is still synonymous with joint success at ME Engineering today for historical reasons: 30 years ago, the company began with the development and support of control systems in mining. Today, the business of the engineering and technician office extends to numerous sectors such as chemicals, steel, building materials, water and wastewater, food, as well as energy with the strong focus on hydrogen in the Ruhr area.

The range of services includes electrical engineering planning, process control systems, PLC controls, and the establishment of the required network structures. "We work across sectors, system- and manufacturer-neutral," says Alexander Schulze Forsthövel, who has been responsible for ME in Marl as a Business Unit Manager for two years. Since 2016, ME Engineering has been part of VINCI, a global player in the fields of concession, energy, and construction.

Alexander Schulze Forsthövel, Business Unit Manager of ME Engineering GmbH
Alexander Schulze Forsthövel, Business Unit Manager of ME Engineering GmbH

"This allows us to benefit from an incredibly strong business unit network, which is also known in the market under the VINCI Energies brand Actemium, and thus we can offer comprehensive projects," explains the electrical engineering graduate, who has been with the company for 15 years. His claim: "We want to be technology and quality leaders. This requires high flexibility in our actions."

ME Engineering Control System Infrastructure
ME develops and supports entire control system infrastructures in an industrial environment

Need to Catch Up on Hydrogen

ME relies on long-term partnerships. "This is also what we practice in the field of hydrogen in international projects in Brazil, the USA, and the Netherlands. There, we are asked why the issue is not pursued more vigorously in Germany. We are still at the beginning here," says Alexander Schulze Forsthövel.

The topic of Green Steel is also already being addressed. The Business Unit Manager is convinced: "We need the courage to tackle and implement such projects. Politics can push us by creating simpler conditions for planning. We spread German technology internationally but do not use it ourselves. I wish things would move faster."

People First

55 employees work at ME in Marl. Alexander Schulze Forsthövel pays special attention to them. The right corporate culture will be a crucial competitive advantage in the future. "ME should be a place where people like to work together. We need to care more about the people. Despite all challenges that have occupied us in the last years and currently, people come first," he emphasizes. Accordingly, leadership is of great importance. "I want to be a motivator and meet people where they are. They need to understand why what they do is important. For instance, with hydrogen. I want to convey to them: We are part of the energy transition – we are actually doing it and not just talking about it."

ME Engineering LV Switchgear
LV Switchgear
ME Engineering Network and Computer Technology
Network and Computer Technology

Engaging people, this also applies to the generational change the company is going through. Many young people around the age of 20 have already been recruited. "At the same time, we need to ensure that experience stays within the company," the manager says. It's important to him that employees identify with the company and the group to build a long-term commitment.

Sustainable growth

Alexander Schulze Forsthövel is still looking for people who fit the company. "We want to grow sustainably and increase the number of employees to 70 to 75 in the medium term," he says. As an innovator, ME is keeping an eye on new technologies – for example, in the field of IT/OT security for clients not only in the area of critical infrastructure. ME's task, he sees, lies not only in IT security but also in the area of Functional Safety. "Here, we support our clients in making their plant technology safer and ensure that in the end, everyone can sleep peacefully."