A visit to Silicon Valley – What counts at the end of the day is what YOU make of it

Silicon Valley in California: The Who-is-Who of high-tech giants – including Apple, Cisco Systems, Google, Facebook, Intuit, Oracle and Yahoo. A place that has power and influence far beyond the San Francisco Bay Area. This is where Janina and Manfred Keuters set off for Easter. After Janina Keuters’ visit together with the top 100 innovators at the beginning of the year, they now wanted to get to know THE location for innovation in order to gather new impulses. Because if you want to remain competitive in the long term, you must always be open to new ideas and developments in different areas! During their visit there were already daily updates with the impulses of the day.

The GRP and FLS managing directors started with a visit to the companies B8ta and Autodesk. Especially the visit to Autodesk immediately turned some things upside down: The CAD program of the company Autodesk can e.g. produce a complete 3D-printed sports shoe. If this is already possible, how will it develop in the next few years? Do we still have to go to the store to buy shoes, or do we all have a 3D printer at home and just print the shoes we need for the day every day? Waste isn’t an issue either, because the old shoes are 100% recycled.

The first impulses of the day were: “Rewire the brain! – Rethinking and creating new unique experiences” and “Finding the golden mean: Building on past experiences, but consistently questioning and redesigning the future”.

One of the most important features of Silicon Valley is its unique work culture. Janina and Manfred Keuters therefore visited the Stanford Campus where the open jobs promote interaction, community and knowledge transfer. The Circuitlaunch companies, which specialize in co-working, co-innovating and co-building and provide BootUp with the co-working space for start-ups, were also visited and demonstrated the advantages of the Silicon Valley working culture on site!

The impulse of the day: “Open to new approaches and thought patterns (1+1=3)” and “Everyone can be a hero. What counts at the end of the day is what YOU make of it.”

One thing a Silicon Valley visitor will notice is the familiar, relaxed California lifestyle – from casual wear to the cafeteria meeting places. But this relaxed attitude is only one side of the coin. In fact, development and response times are exactly the opposite. The product development cycles for many companies usually only extend over weeks, not months. And what really drives companies in Silicon Valley is the focus on getting things done quickly instead of worrying about every possible mistake. A sign on Facebook summarizes this attitude: “Done is better than perfect”. Janina and Manfred Keuters just got to know this “Try and Error” setting on Google. Google is counting on trying out many things and including the best things in the company structure! Apple also relies on innovations and so the new Apple Center with Argumented Reality could represent the entire Apple headquarters. The breathtaking overall picture with use of wind – takes over the cooling of the room and the solar system – which covers the power generation for the entire Apple campus – inspired the GRP and FLS managing directors.

The experiences of this day then also brought the impulses of the day: “Mistakes we make once always get us further” and “Think big and act small – have visions and break down to current topics and short-term milestones”.

Of course, a visit to Deutsches Tech-Export SAP was also a must, and so the two Keuters’ also stopped by! Design Thinking was the keyword here! The buzzword that is one of the most popular buzzwords for Silicon Valley is lived at SAP. Here, new ideas are developed and implemented in a highly creative environment – surrounded by smart refrigerators and live robots. Once again, many topics are simply developed for the learning process! A workshop on the topic at “Business model inc” rounded off the topic of Design Thinking and also dealt with the development of future business ideas.

If you are visiting the Bay Area, you should also try out the everyday innovations that can already be experienced there yourself. So Janina and Manfred Keuters tested Tesla’s Model X during a joint test drive and also visited Amazon Book – a bookstore based on the Amazon ratings. But also a workshop on the topic “Organization of the future” brought new impulses. The two asked themselves questions about how to position themselves for the future and what to question. The impulses of the day were: “It’s never too late to change”. And “Everything as always. Just different. And what about the day after tomorrow?

Although Silicon Valley high-tech companies and their employees can be ruthless competitors, there is also an omnipresent attitude of cooperation. Valley employees have a healthy understanding of the importance of good teamwork. Promoting internal collaboration is good for any company, in any industry. One of the best known open source projects worldwide is Mozilla. The non-profit organization consists largely of several 100,000 members who work continuously to improve open source. Manfred and Janina Keuters were particularly interested in the structures and processes. Because the goal at Mozilla is above all to make the RIGHT technology decisions – not always the quick or short-term ones.

This is the last impulse of the day: “With creativity to unexpected solutions”. And “Keep it real. In times of digitalization and technology, always seeing people in the foreground.”

The exciting and eventful time in Silicon Valley passed far too quickly. But Janina and Manfred Keuters had a lot of experience, impulses and food for thought on their return flight and we are eager to see which ideas will bear fruit!

FOUNDER PRICE NRW 2018: FLS GmbH & Co. KG from Aachen nominated among the 10 Best

Family-friendly, innovation-promoting and continuously looking ahead: these values have been the basis of our success since the takeover of FLS GmbH & Co. KG in 2016 by Janina Keuters. The Aachen-based production planning company has been nominated for the GRÜNDERPREIS NRW 2018 for its philosophy and innovative business idea.

Ten successful founders have been nominated for the GRÜNDERPREIS NRW 2018. They can now all hope for prize money totalling 60,000 euros.

Economics and Digital Affairs Minister Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart is enthusiastic about the wealth of ideas of the young entrepreneurs: “The start-up scene in our state is lively and creative. With the GRÜNDERPREIS NRW we want to recognise their achievements and inspire others to put their own ideas into practice.

“This year, more women entrepreneurs applied than in the previous year, which is also reflected in the nominees: four of the ten finalists are women,” says Eckhard Forst, Chairman of the Managing Board of NRW.BANK. “As a development bank for NRW, we provide the founders with the appropriate financing and advice. With the GRÜNDERPREIS NRW we support our state as an innovative business location”.

“My aim is to create a working environment for my employees that offers family flexibility and compatibility. At the same time, I create systems and structures that allow me to combine my vision of career and family – without making any compromises,” says Janina Keuters, explaining her motivation to take over the company.

The company has been developing IT systems for customers in the mechanical engineering, automotive and plastics sectors since 1979.

A valuable wealth of experience, which is used to permanently further develop the existing systems. In addition to cost efficiency, the digital and flexible planning solutions guarantee the important connection to industry 4.0. In the future, the company will increasingly rely on female developers who bring new ideas and approaches to the team. In order to promote innovative ideas more strongly, a special internal ticket system was developed: If an employee has an idea, he can easily send it directly to the management and colleagues involved via ticket. “This, together with flat hierarchies, increases the individual’s room for manoeuvre and puts team spirit in the foreground.

This year, the jury chaired by Prof. Dr. Christine Volkmann showed a particularly diverse landscape of applicants: technology start-ups, companies from the social sector but also from the clothing and education sectors as well as food producers and medical technology companies entered the race for the NRW GRÜNDERPREIS. The jury, consisting of representatives of the initiators, the Ministry of Economic Affairs of North Rhine-Westphalia and NRW.BANK, as well as business start-up and economic experts from North Rhine-Westphalia, selected the ten best business ideas from around 120 submissions. Those who win the prize, worth a total of 60,000 euros in prize money (1st place: 30,000 euros, 2nd place: 20,000 euros, 3rd place: 10,000 euros), will be presented at the award ceremony on 19 November 2018 in the K21 STÄNDEHAUS in Düsseldorf.

FLS is one of the Top100 innovation leaders 2018

Aachen-based company is honoured by Ranga Yogeshwar at the Mittelstands Summit as one of the most innovative companies of the German Mittelstand.

The FLS GmbH & Co. KG will be awarded the TOP 100 seal for the first time this year. Since 1979, the medium-sized company from Aachen has been developing IT systems that help its customers from the mechanical engineering, automotive and plastics sectors with production planning.

“The flat hierarchies and the informal atmosphere increase the scope of the individual and place initiative and team spirit in the foreground,” says Managing Director Janina Keuters, who has headed the company since October 2016. For her it is clear: A good climate for innovation is a central building block for FLS’s success. For this reason, Keuters has created an electronic ticket system. If an employee has an idea, he can send it directly to the management and involved colleagues via ticket. The ticket system also facilitates the documentation of various innovation projects.

The top innovator also works closely with his customers. Pilot customers from different industries support FLS in the development of new products and services. “We have many customers who have been working with our production planning systems for more than 20 years,” explains Keuters – a valuable wealth of experience that the company uses to permanently further develop its systems.

Read more: FLS GmbH & Co. KG at Top 100

FLS production planning under one roof with GRP

One system for the entire shop floor

FLS production planning under one roof with GRP

Company succession is an issue that concerns many founders. Because at some point there comes a day when you have to say goodbye and this is often a challenge. Dr. Hanns Jürgen Hüttner has also dealt with the situation for some time. In 1979 he founded the company FLS FertigungsLeitSysteme in Aachen. Since then, FLS has successfully established itself as an expert for production planning and control. Today, a good 37 years later, he can look forward to a successful future for the company – because the neighbouring and friendly company GRP GmbH & Co. KG has now taken over the FEKOR production planning system created by FLS. “I am glad that we can look to the future together,” says Hüttner.

GRP specializes in production data acquisition (PDA), MES and comprehensive process management in the manufacturing industry. The products of GRP and FLS complement each other perfectly. “My father, Manfred Keuters, took over GRP in 2010 – at that time GRP and FLS had been working together for more than 25 years, there were common interfaces and the cooperation produced a number of common customers,” Janina Keuters describes. She will act as Managing Director of FLS in the future, while Manfred Keuters will remain Managing Director of GRP. “Of course, we are leading both companies hand in hand and will continue to be accompanied by Dr. Hanns Jürgen Hüttner in the future – we are very pleased that he will remain loyal to us as senior management consultant for some time to come,” emphasize the two Keuters.

The merger of the two companies will strengthen the expertise of the entire group of companies. The FLS and GRP systems will increasingly represent a joint industrial platform in the future. The brands FLS FertigungsLeitSysteme and FEKOR will remain unchanged and will be sold in the separate company FLS GmbH & Co. KG will be continued. Contracts, contacts and employees will remain, “we will continue to be the reliable service provider for our customers”, is the motto of the trio.

Production optimization increases return on investment

Dear Readers,

Do you intend to invest in software-supported production planning? Check beforehand whether an investment is worthwhile. How many savings are possible per year?

The ROI report shows calculations and examples to check, which results the use of a production planning software brings to your company.

Production optimization increases return on investment

For you as a company, one essential question arises when deciding on a planning system: Is the investment worthwhile? The Return on Investment, ROI for short, stands for the advantages that your company has from a certain investment. However, it is still difficult to represent the return on investment for an investment. In this report, we have summarized some of the benefits of using a production planning solution using calculation examples.

Read the full report:


We hope you enjoy reading the report.

Your FLS Team

FLS News – Automatic Plan Review, Seasonal Planning

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In production, plans are often drawn up laboriously and with great effort. Then a factor changes and the plan becomes unusable, and you start all over again. As with a chain reaction, these changes run through the entire production plan.

Today’s newsletter deals with the topic of how to secure your company and make plans “controllable” instead of reacting to sudden bottlenecks and missed deadlines with emergency solutions.

FLS’s Automatic Plan Review helps you to proactively counter changes caused by internal and external influences. The planner sees the consequences of any changes for the entire production in real time. Plans can be updated in a few moments, taking into account deadlines and costs.

We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter.

Your FLS Team


FLS News – Fascination Production: Optimal Use of Capacities

Dear Readers,

In the planning phase, there are countless possible combinations per machine. If you then add in personnel, set-up times, costs and deadlines, it becomes clear how much potential a system with automatic plan creation and optimisation can offer you.

In the second part of our series “FLS – Fascination Production” we show you how you can make better use of your capacities. Let us inspire you.

Your FLS Team


Trends in production planning for 2014

We give you an outlook on trends, challenges and developments in the field of production planning and control (PPS) for 2014: The variety of products continues to increase due to the change in consumer behaviour. Companies are challenged to improve processes in order to secure their pole position ahead of the competition. Because if you can deliver more reliably and more cheaply, you win, especially when there are bottlenecks.

In our opinion, manufacturing companies are confronted with the following developments and challenges:

Production companies are under increasing pressure to meet the demand and requirements of their customers. They expect constant readiness to deliver with an increasingly changing assortment and decreasing quantities per article. This is particularly noticeable at times of high demand, such as a heat wave in summer, an early onset of winter or seasonal events in the year. With conventional planning, production cannot then react quickly enough to short-term orders, changes, bottlenecks or breakdowns.

Companies must become more adaptable in their production and still continue to produce cost-effectively in order to remain competitive. Optimizing production planning must be at the top of your priority list.

The following trends can be identified for production planning:

1. increase of productive times through set-up time optimization.

2. planning systems must be able to map operational processes and their dependencies.

3. companies see themselves more under pressure when it comes to durability.

4. Modern production planning makes separation into rough and detailed planning superfluous.

5. future planning systems use alternatives

6. Users need intuitive planning tools.

7. Successful companies expect a fast implementation and integration of a planning system into the existing system environment.

IT&Production October 2013 – Production Planning in the Food Industry

In the current issue of IT&Production you will find a comprehensive article entitled “Better results through less cleaning effort”. The core of the report is the minimization of cleaning times in the food industry and the question of how to achieve better results with less cleaning effort. The FLS managing director and company founder Dr.-Ing. Hanns-Jürgen Hüttner has shared his experience in over 30 years of production planning and control.

The FEKOR production control system drastically reduces the time required for cleaning systems in the food industry by including those product features in the planning that cause cleaning times. For some users, it has significantly increased the available plant running times.

Read the full report here.