Similarly to a velociraptor in the jungle of primeval times, our disruptor sweeps through the electronic and mechanical undergrowth of his territory. Always on the lookout for an application that he can incorporate. Always ready to track down established processes and turn them into something completely new.
Et voila, Frank Schröder comes around the corner. Frank “Building Technology” Schröder, he adds, grinning. Actually, the 49-year-old operations engineer is not scary at all. Rather, he is open and warm-hearted. And captivating. Because when it comes to “his” building technology, Frank Schröder cannot and does not want to hide his enthusiasm for his workplace.
Schröder has been here since day one. At the Bad Pyrmont site, at least. “I completed my apprenticeship as an operations technician at Phoenix Contact in Blomberg and was there for a total of eleven years before I was given the chance to be at the forefront here on the greenfield site.” In 1996, Schröder started with just one colleague and the responsibility for the facility management of a single building. “Back then, Phoenix Contact was developing the production of printed circuit boards here in Bad Pyrmont. I said at the time that this would be the future.”
The zero-current winner
The new site grew rapidly, and Frank Schröder and his team grew with it. But how did a “completely normal” master operations technician and facility manager become “Building Technology Schröder”? Schröder can name his “moment of enlightenment” immediately: “2013, at and during the Wave Trophy.” Together with his colleague Frank Knafla, he formed the “Frank & Frank” team. And he didn’t just win the rally, but also an intensive insight into social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Since then, the robust East Westphalian romps through all networker levels.
“That is when I realized the importance of networking, of working together on bigger goals.” It wasn’t just technicians involved in the rally, but members of the sales, marketing, and development teams as well. A look outside of the box, the interest in new topics, the overcoming of individual barriers – “since then I have been a man of the new media”.
Frank Schröder discovered an ideal partner and kindred spirit in Bernhard Tilmans, who has been responsible for the development of the Building Automation Business Unit in Sales Germany since 2015. “Together, we are now pushing through projects and developing ideas.” The once rather publicity-shy Schröder became a much-sought-after speaker who can easily inspire a hall full of 150 experts with his talks.
From toolbox to laptop
“I have been co-managing and involving myself in our Building 4 from the very first sketches since 2015”, Frank Schröder says, and not without pride. And he has a right to be proud, because the building is bursting with innovations, whether in energy efficiency, ventilation and air conditioning, building automation, mobile networking with its own app, right through to rain and service water management. Augmented reality is used as a part of the operations technology, and in the open-plan building, seating groups with fully automatic lighting distribution and seat recognition invite guests to linger. The PV system on the roof feeds renewable energy into a system to which, among other loads, the charging stations for electric vehicles are connected. “Naturally, with automatic occupancy displays and billing.” adds Schröder.
Innovation in the team
But where does a facility manager come across
information on such technologies and their
potential applications in buildings? Why is
Schröder so close to the developers and the
product portfolio, in whose 60,000 products –
in his own words – he “practically swims” and
makes use of?
A visit to Frank Schröder’s department makes it clear just how extraordinarily well this operations technician understands his area of responsibility. Here, technicians and the department’s own software developers sit, working together to install the company’s own hardware and software products in the buildings. “We are system integrators within our own company. “You will not find what we do and what we are allowed to do here anywhere else.”
Having said that, when you look at the events to which Schröder is invited as a speaker, it can be assumed that his example may very well be setting a precedent. This is because Frank Schröder does not only link the company’s own products to profitable new and unexpected tasks within the building.
He and his Building Automation team are giving new impetus to the entire field of industrial
architecture. Furthermore, this disruptor is practically revolutionizing the job description for
operations and building technicians.
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