Demcon began twenty-five years ago as a spin-off from the University of Twente and has since become a household name in the Netherlands. With branches in Enschede, Delft, Oldenzaal, Son (near Eindhoven), Groningen and Münster (D), the technology company continues to grow steadily. Demcon supplies mechatronic products and systems, often based on new technology, such as an operating system for eye surgery or a 3D printer for metal.
"The customer has a functional question and we create a design and a product," explains Lars de Groot, business unit manager industrial systems & vision. "Think of customers like a doctor with an idea to improve a medical procedure, or just an industrial party, a company that wants to innovate. We work in five focus areas: high-tech systems, industrial systems & vision, medical systems, optomechatronic systems and embedded systems."
Demcon's story began at the University of Twente, where Dennis Schipper and Peter Rutgers were among the first to work with mechatronics. There they worked together on an autonomous robot and founded Demcon in 1993 to design and build complex technical systems. They are at their best when they get to work on a totally new product.
De Groot: "The DNA of our company is important. It's about innovation and technology; we ultimately want to deliver a physically working product. A customer generally comes to us with a challenging idea. We get to work with that, create a design and, if necessary, can also take care of production."
Close to the source
Demcon now does that designing, producing and delivering with just under 450 employees; growth is rapid. In 2017, the sixth branch, in Groningen, opened its doors. Fifty people should be working there within five years. That is achievable, even though competition for good employees is fierce. "The challenge of finding good people can be a constraint. But we manage, despite the tight labor market, to attract young talents and even experienced seniors. Partly for this reason, we like to be in the vicinity of technical universities, including Groningen. There we work for clients from all over the world. Although the majority of our turnover now still comes from the Netherlands and Germany."
We like to be near technical universities, including Groningen
Connecting with one's local area is important for Demcon branches. "Our founders want to give something back in the region, sometimes by taking a stake in a company, sometimes by entering into partnerships." This is reflected in the company's relationship with NOM. "We are part of the Region of Smart Factories, organized by the NOM. The Region consists of a group of partners who all believe in Smart Factories and Industrie 4.0: highly automated and delivering customized products quickly and flexibly with high quality and fewer employees."
That's already closer than it might seem; in Emmer-Compascuum, Demcon is working with other parties on a Smart Factory. To that end, Demcon is developing the innovative technology that will form the heart of the smart machines. De Groot: "A great example of cooperation and cross-pollination between companies."