The Initiative Ludwig Erhard Prize (ILEP) annually honours companies for special achievements in holistic corporate development. Rheinmetall received an Excellence Award from the initiative for 2020.
The Ludwig Erhard Prize was awarded for the first time in Germany in 1997. This makes the Ludwig Erhard Prize (LEP) the oldest and most valuable excellence award for German companies and organisations. As the father of the German economic miracle, economist Ludwig Erhard, a CDU politician and Minister of Economics (and later also the German Chancellor), shaped the core ideas of the social market economy in terms of its practical implementation and thus also the basic idea of the LEP. The initiative assesses companies according to the guiding principles of the social market economy as well as the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) and honours those companies that show clearly above-average performance in the implementation of the excellence approach.
Business Excellence Level is also assessed by the ILEP based on the EFQM
The EFQM's basic assumption for defining excellence, in addition to upholding fundamental human rights (based on the European Convention on Human Rights (1953) and the European Social Charter (1996)), is "achieving sustained outstanding performance that meets and exceeds the expectations of all its [key] stakeholders". The EFQM model is based on the assumption that excellent companies and organisations, regardless of their size, structure or maturity, need a management system that is individual and tailored to their environment. (Source: www.efqm.org )
A company's strategy, organisation, culture and future initiatives are examined by ILEP's assessors – to just the same extent as the development, production and sales processes and the results achieved. During the assessment, which lasts two and a half days, the assessors talk to employees from all divisions and examine all processes. In a final report including more than 20 pages, they evaluate the strengths and potentials of a company based on the EFQM model. A jury then selects the winners of the Ludwig Erhard Prize on the basis of these final reports.
Quality management as the basis for holistic corporate development: the idea of excellence has been a driver at Rheinmetall for many years
For the ILEP jury, the Rheinmetall plant in Berlin is one of the exemplary drivers of the excellence concept and was honoured with the prestigious Ludwig Erhard Prize at the end of 2020. Dr Andreas Müller is head of the plant: "The areas of leadership, process optimisation and employees have been our focus for many years. We have given the areas a strategic framework and also introduced the 'Berlin fit for future' project. The fact that we have achieved this high quality management status and have been awarded for it is something very special for us."
Spanish Rheinmetall location Abadiaño acts as the benchmark
At Rheinmetall's Abadiaño location in Spain, the topics of business excellence and EFQM have been on the agenda for more than 20 years. At the beginning of 2000, the Abadiaño team, with its approximately 400 employees, dedicated itself to business excellence topics and the introduction of "lean manufacturing" techniques, i.e. economical and time-efficient production factors. From 2005 onwards, work was conducted on the concrete implementation of the EFQM requirements. However, it took another ten years for EFQM assessors to audit the processes of all departments in Abadiaño over many days. "After evaluation by the assessors, we managed to achieve the highest level of excellence and were finalists in the "European Excellence Award" in Brussels in 2015," says José Eulogio Pérez – plant manager at the Abadiaño location – proudly.
Thanks to Pérez's (and his team's) excellent performance, the Spanish plant manager was asked to become an assessor specialist by the EFQM Society this year: "I am truly honoured to be an EFQM Assessor and to promote business excellence on an international scale. This also gives me the opportunity to learn from the very best organisations. This experience will allow me to confirm the success of the business excellence systems in other Rheinmetall plants such as in Livorno (ITA), Ústí (CZE), Thionville (FRA), Hartha (DEU), Pune (IND) or Celaya (MEX). The journey never ends, but as a team we set out together."
International Rheinmetall locations have already received EFQM quality awards
Other Rheinmetall locations, such as in Ústí (CZE) or Pune (IND), have already received EFQM quality awards in the past and continue to work on implementing business excellence, even in times of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Rheinmetall location in Neuss and another plant in Berlin also received EFQM awards as well as an award from ILEP – as they are locations in Germany.
Excellence concept: because of the current challenges, Germany needs to move even closer to the idea of excellence in the organisational and business context
This is the assumption of Dr Wolfgang Schirmer, jury member of the ILEP and Head of Business Excellence at Rheinmetall: "Germany stands for top quality on the international stage with its products and services – which are distributed all over the world. The idea of excellence interrogates the capabilities of one's own organisation, addresses the needs of customers, employees, shareholders and society alike, and analyses and strengthens a company's competitiveness."
Fundamentally, says Dr Schirmer, for him personally the term excellence is always related to being self-critical and scrutinising everything: "People who do not scrutinise things and who are unreflectively satisfied with what they have achieved will stand still and fall behind the competition. Rheinmetall customers and employees deserve better."