Up & Comer: Jan Hennecke, igus, Brings System Solutions Front and Center

Dec. 18, 2023
As part of Machine Design's Innovators issue, we seek to profile the people making significant change and impact in the modern manufacturing space.

Jan Hennecke was born in Germany in 1998 living there until 2017, when he came to the United States to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Northeastern University. He worked at Festo and Vention before joining igus® in March of 2023 as the Low-Cost Automation (LCA) Product Manager at just 25 years old. The LCA product line encompasses all of igus’ automation products, along with the online RBTX marketplace for robotic components and complete solutions.

One of Jan’s early achievements at igus has been increasing online sales for his product line, which has enabled the inside sales team to take more responsibility for projects and expand their role within the company. This was achieved through an emphasis on the RBTX marketplace and igus’ own in-house robotics lab.

Jan has also worked with the tradeshow team to begin creating custom machines for tradeshows to demonstrate various products. Before this, any machines for tradeshows needed to be shipped in from Germany, which carried the risk of shipments being delayed or lost entirely. With Jan’s push to bring this process in-house, igus’ presence at tradeshows has been vastly improved.

Finally, Jan’s crowning achievement in his short time with igus has been his initiative to get the company to present itself more as a complete robotic system provider rather than just a supplier of robotic components. This has gone hand-in-hand with his elevation of the RBTX marketplace as a cornerstone of igus. This shift in philosophy has already been fruitful, as evidenced by a recent partnership with the MassRobotics Associate Network.

Jan’s approach to elevating the RBTX marketplace has been what he calls a “two-pillared” approach. The first of these pillars is hardware cost — more specifically, reducing it. Automation is often looked at as exorbitantly expensive, with even the cheapest options being out of reach for small and mid-sized businesses. However, the RBTX marketplace offers low-cost components and solutions that make it affordable for a business of any size.

The second pillar of automation is the integration process and how to make it simpler for the customer. The RBTX marketplace offers free consultations for customers, along with a testing area that is used to demonstrate and present solutions to customers. Jan has made this testing area in particular, a major focus of the RBTX marketplace, constantly working to expand its capabilities and make integration even simpler for customers.

Looking to the future, Jan believes even more can be done with the RBTX marketplace. He believes the customer testing area can become a place where entire systems can be built from scratch and tested for customers, allowing them to receive a complete system out of the box rather than needing to build and integrate it themselves. If his first few months with igus is any indication, he will surely succeed in this endeavor.

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