LEAD User Portrait: Karl Huber
A real LEAD user is a sewing needle in a haystack. How do you find someone who has his own experience as a product user, is in his nature a technical hobbyist and tinkerer, which is why he has become an engineer and finally a product developer, not least in an area that has strong analogies to the technology of our respective customer? Eleven years of building a LEAD user database and just as much experience in innovation projects with the LEAD user method of very heterogeneous industries are not enough. Man also has to be lucky to find someone like him.
Karl Huber grew up on a farm. Already as a boy he made his first experiences with tractors - those from Steyr, after all he comes from Austria. Technology and handicrafts have always been his passion, technology became his profession. Today he is Head of Development at Case IH Steyr in St. Valentin, which now belongs to Fiat and thus to CNH Industrial, a global player. Together with his team, he develops innovative tractors and has overall responsibility for the next model.
Innovative tractors? The layman thinks a tractor is a simple, incorrigible thing. And is considerably mistaken. In fact, tractors have long since overtaken automobiles in some fields, albeit not in speed but in technology leadership. They are already making their way out of the field under satellite control with more crops and less soil damage.
Because he is a person who is full of ideas and would like to devote his days to developing new technical solutions, he has become so successful as a product developer that he has continued to rise in the company. On the one hand this is nice, on the other hand he now has to manage and is no longer allowed to do his own handicrafts. At this point another important qualification of Karl Huber as a LEAD user comes into play: the willingness to participate free of charge in the product development of another industry. Only this free work from personal enthusiasm on the thing ensures that no own interests affect the innovation process.
The first time Karl Huber was part of the team at a LEAD user conference when we were looking for innovations for cranes for Liebherr. The analogy between tractors and cranes is that both have to transmit their power to the machining objects via different tools. And therefore the way in which it is possible to change from the bucket to the plough, for example, is of decisive importance for the work and its productivity. Transferred to the world of cranes, these are attachments that lift containers from ships in exchange for those that have to transport bulk material, coal, scrap or even liquids. Easier and faster tool changes pay off here and there. Karl Huber felt completely in his element and made a significant contribution to the success with brilliant ideas.
When Faun Umwelttechnik - as part of the Kirchhoff Group - commissioned us to develop an innovation for dung trucks, pardon, waste disposal vehicles, we again invited Mr. Huber to join a LEAD user team. The challenge was great, after all Faun Umwelttechnik received the award as "Top 100 Innovator" in 2012 for exemplary innovation management. The company's speciality are innovative systems for picking up and unloading waste containers, for example from the side of the vehicle, or from the front. And what expertise is required for this? Tractors and cranes, of course. Here, too, the lightness, variability and speed of docking a machine to its work object is directly reflected in the costs of its operators. Accordingly, the improvement of this technology also offers a chance of winning for an innovative manufacturer such as Faun Kirchhoff.
Karl Huber did not take long to be asked. LEAD users are not only technology drivers, but also technology-driven. We are not allowed to talk about Karl Huber's contributions to the LEAD User Conference any more than we had expected. He came, saw and won.