Agenda Constructiilor
Marti, 31 Ianuarie 2023
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The geoeconomic turning point: 30 years of hyperglobalization are over!
Oliver Hermes is President & CEO of the Wilo Group, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Wilo-Foundation, member of the Board of Trustees of the Family Business Foundation and member of the Executive Committee of the Near and Middle East Association (NUMOV). He is an essayist with articles published in independent media. The opinions expressed are those of the author only. In the following essay, the expert describes the challenges posed by the current global crises and politically intended decoupling processes. According to the author, German companies in particular are facing difficult times. He also takes a clear stand by stating that 30 years of hyper globalization are certainly over. Instead, the specter of decoupling is now haunting all continents. In the process, companies are increasingly trapped between the increasingly polarized positions. Especially those that are integrated into globally operating value chains have a lot to lose. The President and CEO of the Wilo Group expresses his concern about the increasing globalization skepticism among the general population.
"Decoupling means that multinational co-operations will weaken"
When politicians speak of a "turning point" these days, they usually mean a geopolitical or historical turning point marked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. There was more than enough tension in the world before that date. However, we never imagined that a conflict would escalate to the level it has in Ukraine. The violence and suffering that people are facing in the middle of Europe and other parts of the world is devastating and deserves all of our sympathy and help. Difficult times challenge those certainties thought to be secure. We are living in a period characterized by secession, self-sufficiency, protectionism and growing international tensions, to the point of war. As a consequence of the geopolitical turning point, we are also witnessing a "geoeconomic turning point". In many respects, this development can also be described as a "backward roll". The backpedaling on energy transitions, the inflation turnaround in mature markets, the subsequent monetary policy interest rate turnaround by central banks, and the associated real estate turnaround are the result of the actions of political actors worldwide.
In terms of foreign trade, the following remains to be said: 30 years of hyper globalization are certainly over. Instead, the horror of "decoupling" is now wreaking havoc on every continent. In all its forms, decoupling means that multinational co-operations will weaken, alliances will crumble and economic bridges between states (and therefore between politically diverse systems) will topple. Trade barriers, extra-territorial sanctions, technology embargoes and a decoupling of supply chains initiated for political reasons often have clearly underestimated negative consequences for the global economy. "Decoupling" is no invention of the economy, mind you, but the primacy of politics also applies to companies. Decoupling markets is therefore politically intended to protect critical infrastructure in individual regions, guarantee territorial sovereignty and secure prosperity. It is often forgotten in the political sphere that there is not and can never be an "end-to-end" independence of economies with complex systems. Especially when it comes to the supply of raw materials, import substitution has its limits in mature markets and regions. We simply cannot do everything nationally or regionally ourselves. Multilateral structures and processes are and remain to be essential for efficient and sensible economic and social action on this earth.
Rampant decoupling has at least four manifestations
Firstly, the geographical dimension describes the respective regional effects of isolation and decoupling. Secondly, the technological dimension comprises the phenomenon by which various markets apply their own standards for products, systems, and solutions. The third dimension represents financial decoupling, reducing dependence on global financial and capital markets, currency and payment systems. The fourth dimension represents the global impact of decoupling on the supply of natural resources to people. All four dimensions interact with each other.
An increasing number of companies are caught in the middle of geopolitical disputes. The power struggle between the US and China is the central geostrategic conflict of today. The states in between, the so-called "sandwich states" in Europe and the Pacific region, must re-evaluate their opportunities and risks in this field of tension. This also applies to the economic actors. If you consider the trade volumes of the individual world regions relative to each other, published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) in February 2022, you will see that all continents are very closely intertwined economically.
For example, Ukraine and Russia combined account for about 30% of all global wheat exports. Disruption, blockage or disconnection between these global trade linkages will lead to food crises and famine in many parts of the world. Similar dependencies exist between global communities and Taiwan. Taiwan’s semiconductor industry is globally classified as systemically important. About 77% of the chips produced worldwide come from here. An escalation of the Taiwan conflict could have dramatic repercussions and would ultimately destabilize the already fragile global economy.
The disentanglement of global trade patterns would lead to enormous efficiency losses …
… and consequently, to a loss of prosperity. Many people are not aware of this possibility. For example, according to a survey by the Civey Institute in 2022, only 35% of the German population still consider globalization to be an opportunity. 61% see globalization more as a threat. In 2017, the result of the survey was exactly the opposite. At that time, globalization had a positive connotation for around 60% of respondents and only 40 percent saw it as a risk. This change in attitude is an extremely worrying development, but it is part of the geoeconomic turning point. It is often overlooked that the business model of the EU, especially that of the Federal Republic of Germany and therefore our jobs and our prosperity, is based on globalization and multilateralism. Deglobalization and decoupling may make regions and countries a little more sovereign and independent of other states, but they will also become more inefficient in many areas, as well as more expensive to operate economically. Citizens will have to pay the higher consumer prices for this, with the accompanying loss of prosperity and all the social risks that arise. On the corporate side, those players who are integrated into globally functioning value chains have the most to lose.
They need to reorganize now
It is clearly foreseeable that supply chains, already fragile and strained by the pandemic, will be further disrupted by decoupling. One way out of the dilemma posed by geographic decoupling is for companies to invest regionally. To this end, globally operating companies need to re-examine strategic alternatives for action in the most important markets. The question to be answered is, which current position and future prospects does an individual region or country differentiated according to procurement and sales markets have for a company? With regard to decoupling countries, in which globally positioned companies have relatively little market and revenue share and from which little is sourced at the same time, divestment should be considered. This is particularly relevant if the company’s business activities in one of these countries pose reputational risks. If there are dependencies on the company’s procurement side to decoupling countries and regions, then alternatives must be created in the short term.
Diversification of sources of supply is required at an accelerated pace
A good example of a missed opportunity to diversify supply sources on a grand political scale is energy procurement in Germany. For decades, Germany lived very well and cost-efficiently on Russian pipeline gas. As an energy-intensive industry, the economy as a whole and consumers individually have benefited enormously from this. Our prosperity is partly the result of this cheap energy supply. However, country-specific dependencies on Russia have continuously increased by far-reaching political decisions across party lines over decades. On the one hand, this was a missed opportunity to structure sufficient procurement capacities from alternative supplier countries. This particularly applies to the purchase of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the development of corresponding infrastructures. On the other hand, the decision to withdraw from nuclear energy, hard coal and lignite, as well as the political decision not to produce shale gas in this country, have increased our dependence on Russia. Many measures taken by political actors are now aimed at correcting these self-inflicted strategic mistakes as quickly as possible. If only the sales market in an unbundling country is of high importance for a company and no production site exists yet, targeted investments in the localization of activities may have to be made. In this context, local value creation must increasingly be rebuilt. This build-up is necessary to be able to defend or expand markets. A country that is unbundling will also always try to engage in import substitution, which can be to the detriment of export-oriented companies that do not produce locally: no value creation in the country, no access to the market.
If individual regions and states are striving for economic sovereignty, for example in relation to critical infrastructures, and if both the procurement market and the sales market are of great importance to a company, it may be necessary to strengthen its own existing value chain regionally. This will be "local for local", meaning that raw materials and primary products will be procured locally in the decoupled country itself, which are necessary for local production and satisfying country-specific market needs. This creates a high degree of autonomy and opens up several strategic alternatives for action. In the case of a far-reaching politically intended decoupling of a country from world trade, the local unit can continue to operate and function as a subsidiary, or it can be sold off as a whole. The higher the local value-added depth in the case of a divestment, the higher sales prices can usually be realized for the subsidiary upon disposal. In addition to the consideration of goods, the financial dimension is also important. As a matter of principle, it must be ensured that generated revenues and profits can be transferred to the respective country of the parent company. If this is not the case and there are dividend transfer restrictions, investments in a decoupling country are to be classified as high-risk.
Decoupling could throw fuel on the geopolitical fire
When considering the opportunities and risks of decoupling, it is clear that exclusion, sanctions and isolation, not to mention tearing down bridges, have never once in world history generated added value. From a scientific point of view and in the context of intended changes in the behavior of political actors, sanctions only have a limited effect, and in the case of autocracies they are ineffective for many reasons. They often cement the existing political systems of rule in the sanctioned country and do not bring about "regime change", i.e., change in the power structures.
However, it is indisputable that widely implemented multinational sanctions, legitimized for example by a UN mandate, are much more effective than national or regional solo efforts. In the absence of such global legitimacy, the economies of sanctioning states and regions lose market share to those of non-sanctioning states. This effect can be observed worldwide, especially when implementing and observing the effectiveness of Russian sanctions. The sanctioning states may end up harming themselves more than politically foreseen. Politicians, together with their citizens, must weigh up the high price a country is willing to pay for the release of sanctions against other states. For this, citizens need a high degree of transparency, not only with regard to ethical and moral considerations and the security and defense policy dimension, but also with regard to the effects on their own jobs and wallets.
Decoupling is an illusion and circumvents reality
In conclusion, it can be said: In contrast to "decoupling" in all its forms, economic dependencies and interdependencies, especially in geopolitical conflict situations, increase the willingness to compromise and potentially contribute to de-escalation. Decoupling is an illusion and circumvents reality - believing that the world can be organized in a bipolar way or divided into "good" and "evil", with value-based Western-style democracies on one side and states with divergent political systems on the other. The more realistic system is one where the diverse political systems on our planet responsibly coexist. Multilateralism instead of "decoupling" is the order of the day.
Or in other words:
Once the world economy has been decoupled as far as possible along the power and military blocs, the waging of wars becomes easier. And that too is anything but desirable!
(articol aparut in revista Agenda Constructiilor, editia Septembrie 2022)

Crestere de business si noi planuri de dezvoltare pentru Wilo Romania
Gabriel Nita
Functia/Firma: Managing Director Romania & Moldova, Wilo Romania.
Investitiile sustinute in sectorul de infrastructura utilitara (alimentare cu apa si sisteme de canalizare), dar si mentinerea pe un trend crescator a pietei constructiilor au generat o crestere de 25% a vanzarilor Wilo Romania in primele sase luni ale acestui an. Parte a grupului german Wilo, unul dintre liderii globali ai sectorului pompelor de inalta tehnologie, compania se afla in proces de consolidare si expansiune la nivel national. Dupa inaugurarea cu succes a noului sediu din Bucuresti, hub regional de unde sunt gestionate operatiunile grupului pentru 10 tari, realizat in urma unei investitii de aproape 7 milioane de euro, strategia Wilo Romania pentru perioada urmatoare vizeaza dezvoltarea pe plan local de solutii noi pentru managementul apei curate, grupuri de pompare in container, pe care sa le comercializeze atat intern, cat si la nivel regional. In Romania, Wilo deruleaza afaceri anuale medii de 15 milioane de euro, avand o experienta de circa doua decenii de activitate. Compania comercializeaza o gama extinsa de solutii pentru sisteme HVAC, retele de alimentare cu apa, de colectare si transport al apelor uzate, precum si diverse solutii industriale.
- Ce evolutie inregistreaza piata solutiilor de pompare in aceasta perioada?
- In ultimii doi ani am asistat la o evolutie pozitiva a pietei sistemelor de pompare, datorita investitiilor majore finantate din fonduri europene pentru proiectele dedicate retelelor de apa si canalizare. Wilo Romania acopera toate segmentele de piata prin produsele sale, comercializand o gama extinsa de solutii pentru sisteme HVAC, retele de alimentare cu apa, de colectare si transport al apelor uzate, precum si diverse solutii industriale.
- Care sunt perspectivele de dezvoltare a segmentului pentru perioada urmatoare?
- Pentru 2021-2022 ne dorim sa ramanem implicati in proiecte de amploare, cu impact pozitiv in Romania si regiune. In privinta segmentului de management al apei, proiectele cu finantare europeana pentru infrastructura de apa curata si canalizare au nevoie de solutii durabile, eficiente, la standarde inalte. In ceea ce priveste segmentul BSC, exista in continuare interes din partea investitorilor si ne propunem sa ne alaturam noilor proiecte cu solutiile moderne Wilo de stingere a incendiilor si sisteme inteligente de incalzire, ventilatie si aer conditionat.
- Care sunt cele mai reprezentative proiecte la care ati participat in ultimele 18 luni?
- In ultimele 18 luni, pe lista de prioritati s-a numarat constructia noului Hub Regional coordonat din Romania, care aduce plus-valoare angajamentului Wilo pentru furnizarea de solutii moderne si sustenabile in Europa de Est si care raspunde obiectivelor strategice ale Wilo Group in regiune. Dupa 18 luni de la demararea proiectului de constructie, prin noua locatie cu birouri moderne construite pe o suprafata de 1.800 mp si spatii pentru servicii de depozitare, asamblare si reparatii, extinse pe 2.700 mp, Romania va deveni un centru important de coordonare a activitatilor logistice si de asamblare ale Wilo din zona europeana, certificat de Grupul Wilo SE. Investitia de 6,9 milioane de euro este puternic ancorata in parteneriatele pentru dezvoltare din zona, pentru a raspunde cu succes si promptitudine cererilor de servicii si solutii pentru instalatiile de incalzire, climatizare si racire, alimentarii cu apa si evacuarii apei uzate, din Romania si din alte 10 tari din regiune.
Anul acesta am participat la executia noii Sali Polivalente din Oradea, unde am livrat solutii de top pentru managementul apei, de la sisteme de stingere a incendiilor, la instalatii HVAC. Am contribuit, de asemenea, cu produse moderne Wilo si la constructia altor obiective de anvergura, precum stadionul Arcul de Triumf din Bucuresti, arena ce va fi folosita pentru antrenamentele echipelor de fotbal ce vor participa la campionatul european de fotbal de anul viitor.
In 2020 ne-am mai implicat si in constructia ansamblului Record Park, primul proiect mixt de regenerare urbana din Cluj-Napoca, investitie de 42 milioane de euro, unde am furnizat sisteme Wilo de management al apei.
Tot in acest an, am raspuns nevoilor de siguranta ale Takata Romania, prin solutii moderne de alimentare cu apa pentru stingerea incendiilor. Ne-am implicat si in proiectele Hala Urbano si West City Tower din Cluj-Napoca, precum si in extinderea fabricii Bosch de la Jucu, din judetul Cluj.
- Ce noutati aveti in planul digitalizarii si al noilor tehnologii de asistenta tehnica?
- Notabile, din punct de vedere al inovatiilor digitalizate din acest an, sunt actualizarile din aplicatia Wilo Assistant. Aceasta pune la dispozitie intreaga tehnologie a pompelor de inalta eficienta pe smartphone-uri si tablete atat pentru instalatori, cat si pentru proiectanti si operatorii de apa. Noul design si interfata intuitiva ofera utilizatorului o experienta imbunatatita in activitatea zilnica. Fata de versiunea anterioara Wilo-Assistant, au fost adaugate noi functii si posibilitati de conectare, astfel incat clientii nostri sa poata gasi rapid ceea ce au nevoie pentru asistenta, instalare si punere in functiune, controlul de la distanta si mentenanta. In randul prioritatilor noastre de business continua sa se numere transformarea digitala, pe care o consideram o oportunitate pentru a pune accentul pe sustenabilitate.
- Care sunt noutatile incluse in portofoliu in ultimele 12 luni si ce produse/ tehnologii noi aveti in plan sa lansati in perioada urmatoare?
- Inteligente, eficiente energetic si durabile - acestea sunt atributele produselor cu care Wilo face inconjurul lumii si cu ajutorul carora raspundem cu succes si promptitudine cererilor de servicii si solutii pentru instalatiile de incalzire, climatizare si racire, alimentarii cu apa si evacuarii apei uzate. Produsele Wilo lansate in ultimele 12 luni in Romania respecta aceste caracteristici-cheie: sunt inalt tehnologizate, prezinta usurinta in utilizare si eficienta energetica, standarde inalte confirmate si de organizatiile REHVA si AHCA (Agency for Health Care Administration). Oferim sprijin clientilor, instalatorilor, tehnicienilor si proiectantilor pentru a cunoaste mai bine atributele, specificatiile si utilizarea produselor nou-lansate prin informatii actualizate pe site-ul si pe, prin aplicatia Wilo-Assistant si prin sprijinul echipei noastre. In toamna acestui an avem planificata lansarea a patru noi produse: Wilo-Yonos GIGA-N, Wilo-Isar MODH1, Wilo-Star-Z NOVA A si SiFire FIRST.
- Ce obiective de dezvoltare aveti, pe termen mediu si lung, pe piata locala?
- In acest moment suntem in plina organizare strategica a activitatilor pe care le vom desfasura in Headquarter-ul Wilo Romania, din Soseaua Odai, nr. 24, din Otopeni, de la cele comerciale si de comunicare de rutina, la demonstratii si traininguri creative si eficiente, atat de importante pentru inovatia ce caracterizeaza initiativele, produsele si serviciile Wilo. Ne confirmam angajamentul fata de mediu, clienti si de nevoile din piata prin functionalitatile disponibile in Hubul din Otopeni, dotat cu linii de asamblare pentru grupuri de pompare apa rece, pentru stingere incendiu in conformitate cu normativul de siguranta la foc a constructiilor cu indicativul P118, hidrofoare si pompe submersibile. Toate sunt produse conform directivelor Europene aflate in vigoare. Pentru urmatoarea perioada, ne propunem sa dezvoltam local solutii noi pentru managementul apei curate, grupuri de pompare in container, pe care sa le vindem atat pe piata locala, cat si regionala. Aceasta initiativa contribuie la fundamentarea strategiei pentru rolul acestui nou sediu din Romania, care va functiona ca Hub Regional, de unde operatiunile companiei vor fi gestionate pentru 10 tari din Europa de Est.
(articol aparut in revista Agenda Constructiilor, editia Noiembrie/Decembrie 2020)

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A apărut editia
Revista Agenda Constructiilor editia nr. 171 (Noiembrie-Decembrie 2022)


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