In addition to a large number of medium-sized companies, five global players shape the local economy. They make Salzgitter one of the largest employment clusters in Northern Germany, offering attractive learning and development opportunities for trainees and experienced professionals alike. Below, we introduce the Big Five.
#1 From steel to printed circuit boards: Salzgitter AG
It all began in nearby Groß Ilsede in 1858 with the foundation of an ironworks: today, Salzgitter AG is one of the leading steel and technology companies in Europe. The group comprises almost 200 subsidiaries and affiliates in Germany and abroad. However, its headquarters in Salzgitter are still the most important location. Among others, it is home to operating companies Salzgitter Flachstahl, Salzgitter Bauelemente, Salzgitter Europlatinen, Salzgitter Mannesmann Forschung as well as VPS Verkehrsbetriebe Peine Salzgitter, TELCAT and DEUMU – employing more than 8,000 people. And high-quality brand and special steels from Salzgitter continue to be used in the 21st century in the production of cars and household appliances as well as in mechanical and plant engineering applications.
‘We have the best of both worlds at our Salzgitter location,’ explains Markus Rottwinkel, who is responsible for employer branding at the steel producer. ‘This is where the advantages of a large corporation and the freedom of a medium-sized company come together. Thanks to the comparatively small size of our subsidiaries and our flat hierarchies, our employees can make great progress with their ideas and be assigned responsibility more quickly than elsewhere.’ And even if steel isn’t a new product, engineers at Salzgitter AG have a great opportunity to use their creativity in innovative products: ‘Our researchers are paying a great deal of attention to the steel of the future,’ says Rottwinkel. But it’s not just about improving the product – the vision is reduced CO2 production of steel using hydrogen derived from ‘green energy’.
#2 From the three-cylinder to the Bugatti engine: Volkswagen AG
Salzgitter drives the world, reliably and dynamically. Every second engine installed in the Volkswagen Group's factories comes from the VW engine plant with its long-standing tradition. Every day, around 6,500 employees manufacture around 7,000 petrol and diesel engines – over 1.2 million year after year. VW in Salzgitter also manufactures industrial drives, combined heat and power plants and power units for boats. The variety of types of car engines is enormous. The range starts with the compact and efficient three-cylinder engine, which is used in the Golf 1.0 TSI BlueMotion. At the other end of the range is a real power horse: even the Bugatti Chiron super sports car is powered by an engine made in Salzgitter – and powered is an understatement! The sixteen-cylinder engine draws 1,500 horsepower from eight litres. However, the car’s owners aren’t allowed to fully utilise the power made in Salzgitter – a limiter regulates the speed at 420 kilometres per hour.
To ensure that it continues to have well-qualified employees in future, the VW engine plant trains around 100 apprentices in nine trade and two commercial occupations every year. The company also cooperates closely with Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences and Braunschweig University of Technology. ‘Our development department in particular offers excellent prospects for qualified engineers and technicians,’ explains VW spokeswoman Stella Pechmann. ‘Here in Salzgitter, we work and conduct research on drives for the cars of the future.’
#3 No one hauls like this – MAN Truck & Bus AG
They’re not quite as fast as the passenger cars from the Volkswagen Group, but the vehicles for which MAN Truck & Bus AG manufactures essential parts and components at its plant in Salzgitter are also extremely powerful. Every new MAN and Scania brand lorry includes components from the factory in the Watenstedt district, which looks back on a rich tradition. In addition to axles and crankshafts for commercial vehicle engines, bus chassis are mounted on a separate assembly line. The site packs complete lorry and bus kits for MAN’s assembly plants around the world. The group’s global spare parts logistics are also handled via Salzgitter. In total, more than 2,500 employees work at this modern location. The construction of lorries and buses has a long tradition in the region: production began in the Salzgitter-Watenstedt plant in 1964 – which was still part of Braunschweig-based Büssing AG at that time. To this day, the ‘Büssing lion’ on the MAN company’s logo recalls its famous predecessor firm.
‘We are a plant with a long and colourful past,’ notes Rainer Scharnowski, the human resources manager at MAN Salzgitter. He adds with a hint of pride: ‘The location and the workforce are flexible, and we are continue to face new challenges successfully.’ This makes for a strong team: turnover in the workforce is close to zero. ‘In addition to interesting jobs and reasonable pay, we offer all the advantages of a large company as we are part of the Volkswagen Group,’ adds Mr Scharnowski. ‘These range from the possibility of professional development at other locations and attractive social benefits to good health insurance and health care.’
#4 The spark that inspires – Bosch
Since the early days of the automobile, products from Bosch have ensured that the ignition spark ignites. Over the past one hundred years, technology has evolved from simple spark plugs to complex digital controllers – and Bosch has always been at the forefront when it comes to innovation and quality. Robert Bosch’s tinker’s workshop in Swabia has developed into a globally operating corporate group with diverse fields of activity and business areas. The global activities of all Bosch engine controller plants are coordinated from Salzgitter. Various competence centres, prototype manufacturing and the worldwide warranty analysis area are also of global significance. In addition, equipment used for engine control and battery management continue to be manufactured at the Salzgitter plant. A total of around 1,500 people work at Bosch in Salzgitter.
‘We manufacture control units for all car manufacturers and are part of the world’s largest automotive supplier,’ explains Dr Joachim Bamberg. Bamberg, who has a doctorate in theology, is the head of human resources at Bosch in Salzgitter. He emphasises the company’s social tradition: ‘Responsible entrepreneurship was already practised by our company founder Robert Bosch. For example, he was one of the first employers in Germany to introduce the eight-hour day. To this day, employees are important to us, not just as workers, but as people.’
#5 A railway success story – Alstom
Salzgitter also helps keep things moving on railway tracks around the world. From suburban trains in Hamburg, Dublin or Copenhagen, to regional transport throughout Germany, in Sweden or Luxembourg, in France or Canada – the trains produced by Alstom Transport Deutschland are fast, safe and comfortable no matter where they are found. The company name is relatively new, but the construction of railway vehicles has a nearly 180-year tradition at the company: it was founded in 1839 as ‘Wagenbauanstalt Gottfried Linke’, and got a new start in Salzgitter-Watenstedt in 1950. Today, more than 2,700 employees provide modern means of mobility in Europe’s metropolitan areas and regions. The Salzgitter-based company stands for innovation and excellence: in 2016, for example, the Coradia iLint was introduced as the world’s first regional train powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which makes it completely emission-free.
The test runs on the company’s own test track were successful. A hydrogen refuelling station was built in Salzgitter for the passenger train of the future. The hydrogen used for the test runs is the byproduct of an industrial process and is usefully recycled as a waste product here. In 2018, trial operation will begin with passengers on the line between Buxtehude, Bremervörde, Bremerhaven and Cuxhaven. ‘This makes us a driver for change in transport and traffic in Germany and Europe,’ Alstom spokeswoman Tanja Kampa notes with confidence, adding: ‘Being an innovative high-tech company naturally makes us an attractive employer and training company for technical professions.’
Today, tomorrow, and the day after that
In the heart of Europe, tradition therefore meets the future at the intersection of two main roads connecting north and south, east and west. Salzgitter makes people mobile around the world. Our products speak for themselves, through quality and innovation. In the workshops and laboratories of the ‘Big Five’, researchers are working to ensure that the engines of the future will come from Salzgitter, too.