Salim Haffar, deputy general manager at I-MAK, was reelected as president of EUROTRANS in 2022. This is Haffar’s third term in this role. PTE recently caught up with Haffar to discuss the evolution of EUROTRANS, the focus of the International Drive Conference at Hannover Messe and the current state of I-MAK’s gearbox business in Turkey.
PTE: Describe your first two terms as EUROTRANS president and what accomplishments you’re most proud of during this period.
Haffar: The first few years were very busy as we were transitioning to digitalization so I’m very happy that we managed to come together online and we did not lose any of the momentum we had during the pandemic.
I was elected just after COVID started. We didn’t take a break. We immediately began doing more within the organization. Online training has been a key focus and we continue to put an emphasis on this work today. I’m most proud of our commitment and dedication to moving forward during these challenging years.
PTE: What are your top three priorities during your third term as president?
Haffar: First, we’d like to continue to bring the power transmission community together for fruitful networking and discussions on understanding the challenges we face and the solutions we can provide here at EUROTRANS.
Second is to continue working on our standards, continue working on advancing the power transmission segment in Europe. Our goal is to support all our large, medium, and small enterprises that are working toward improving their quality and advancing their products and technologies toward digital solutions.
Third, is to continue to train young professionals. We need to make sure we have a large pool of talent available for our European members. This is accomplished by diversifying our training and educational offerings from companies as well as universities. It’s important to share as much knowledge as we can and exchange ideas with our member companies to obtain skilled talent for the future.
PTE: How has EUROTRANS evolved since you first participated in the organization?
Haffar: We’ve made a significant push toward digitalization. We’ve also strengthened our ties with other organizations—like AGMA, for example—to create a larger international reach and share new ideas and solutions on a global level.
PTE: What were some of the highlights of the International Drive Conference at Hannover Messe 2023?
Haffar: We tried to seamlessly connect a diverse range of subjects to help our members prepare for changes taking place in manufacturing today. We started by analyzing how digitalization can help with sustainability. How these digital tools can be implemented in their products. Then we transitioned to see how to improve sustainability from the production point of view. Next, we examined the risks many of our companies are facing today and how digitalization can help combat these challenges such as counterfeit bearings. Finally, we gave a comprehensive overview of the European economy and new manufacturing regulations that our members need to be prepared for in the coming years. The event provided a nice overview of things not only happening in Europe but around the globe.
PTE: Why is it so important to conduct face-to-face meetings like the International Drive Conference in 2023?
Haffar: The open discussions, the exchanging of new ideas, and having different organizations coming together to speak on the challenges they’re currently facing. These are just a few of the reasons face-to-face meetings are so crucial. It is vital to get people from different backgrounds, countries, and manufacturing segments in one place to discuss current and future events.
PTE: How has the gearbox market evolved in the last five years?
Haffar: The gearbox market has evolved in several different ways. I-MAK, as an organization, has grown internationally. We’re bringing in a more diverse workforce to help balance our international plans. Also, in the last year we’ve seen more collaboration with other manufacturers. We’re getting involved with other international organizations to face the issues of today with manufacturers that share the same global challenges.
From the end user perspective, we see more demand in mining as well as agriculture. There’s a need to produce more in both these areas. We see new silo installations and people that are trying to transform the food industry, for example, to bring key resources closer to home. Our diverse line of products is key to the success we’ve had in the intralogistics market.
We’re a key player in hoist technology today. We produce solutions in this global market segment. With the workforce shrinking, we’re also helping to provide new automation solutions, gearboxes that are easier to install and maintain. We’re always focusing on providing more reliable equipment for our customers.
PTE: How has your work with EUROTRANS helped your gearbox business in Turkey?
Haffar: EUROTRANS helps provide a better understanding of the dynamics of the market. It helps you get closer to other manufacturers and producers to see how we can best solve current industry challenges. In addition, our work with EUROTRANS helps our engineers get a better understanding of the standards. Our technical team attended all the meetings in the past year so we can provide the best gearbox products now and in the future.
PTE: What are some of your long-term goals at I-MAK?
Haffar: The goal is to continue to get closer and closer to our customers. We’d like to be able to provide immediate installation, maintenance, and product support in the field. We’re also hoping to provide more energy efficient products in the future with an emphasis on sustainability. It’s harder and harder to find the right people to maintain, update and support gearbox technology. Our goal is to provide products and technologies that are easier to use.
PTE: Why is collaboration so important in our market in 2023?
Haffar: It’s important to not just be a part of the power transmission manufacturing community. We must contribute to all key aspects moving forward whether its digitalization, sustainability, technical resources, or education/training. We’re one big family in global power transmission. The exchange of ideas and collaboration with similar organizations will play a huge role in our future success within these markets.