Annual Report Magazine
Space for inspiration and innovation

Sitting at school desks is a thing of the past. One can clearly feel a fresh spirit as soon as one enters the new building. The modern, open and bright architecture indicates that further education can be inspiring, demanding and fun – and shows how important SICK considers the communication and exchange of knowledge for its corporate success.
The kind of further education where someone stands at the front while the others listen is an outdated concept – after a bit of role play and a round of feedback, students receive a file full of papers and a certificate and then trot back to their daily work. This is not the case at the SICK Sensor Intelligence Academy (SIA). Since its founding in 1998, it has rapidly discarded the image of an ‘internal adult education center’ and continued to develop. The range on offer was expanded to employees at the international subsidiaries in 2014, and a start-up focusing on customer training was founded in 2018. The start-up was integrated into the SIA in early 2019 and the teams moved on to the campus together.

The new building in the Schlosspark in the Buchholz suburb (just three kilometers from the company’s headquarters) provides SICK with a modern and innovative learning environment. On the one hand, the opportunities for further education are still available for SICK’s employees to expand their specialist, methodological, and social competences. On the other hand, the new customer center offers the possibility of providing customers with practical training. In addition, companies outside SICK’s customer base are also sincerely welcome to use the highly varied opportunities offered by the new premises. SICK thus mirrors its open, solution-oriented approach on an international campus.
The right mix
“We brought together what most companies usually separate from one another because we have seen that we can create and exploit many synergies,” Nico Zimmermann, Head of the Sensor Intelligence Academy’s Department for Infrastructure, Process and Employee Qualification, describes the approach. “For example, I can specify a product training course for customers despite it normally being used for sales staff – without having to completely redevelop it.”

The new on-site possibilities allow the Academy to modernize the range of courses it offers whilst orienting itself towards a digital future. “With the infrastructure here on the campus everything is hybrid. I can easily digitalize all the rooms and everything that takes place there. And this melding of digital learning content with face-to-face learning content – even parallel to each other – is something very special. We are well ahead of other company academies in comparison,” adds Nico Zimmermann proudly.
It is not just the modern architecture of the new building that impresses – the SIA also uses modern learning concepts, in particular those that cover the topic area of digitalization. In future, all training courses will be flexibly adaptable to customer or employee needs through the use of individual modules. The focus is on co-creation: Customers bring their technical requirements with them to the SIA event. There, working with SICK’s experts, they develop individual solutions directly with and on the product. This takes place, for example, by simulating device sections and plant clones in process, factory and logistics automation. The methods follow the ‘design thinking’ approach, and were specially developed by the Sensor Intelligence Academy for such special learning requirements. Unique room variants and philosophies support innovative learning with suitable media technology and furnishing concepts.

Daring to network
Meeting areas and modular room concepts lead to undreamt of, but desirable, encounters. Discussions and ideas can develop in a relaxed atmosphere in chance conversations struck up during breaks by participants attending different events. “We deliberately developed the entire space concept to bring people together,” explains Marcus Neubronner, Head of Sensor Intelligence Academy Sales, Marketing and Customer Training. “We are not afraid of employees chatting with customers, or even customers with other customers. On the contrary, we are already seeing the positive effects of such open exchanges.
New concepts and solutions are thus created ad hoc – and instill trust.” The SIA has dared to become its own Business Unit. Measuring itself on the basis of sales was a major change for the whole team, currently consisting of 23 personnel. Slightly more than 120,000 e-learning courses have been completed, and there have been several thousand events – impressively demonstrating that knowledge is a crucial commodity