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Expert discussion – The challenges of product development

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Beat Erni, Head Engineering Product Segment Kitchen, and Rolf Odermatt, Design Group Leader, discuss what challenges they face when developing new products and what this means for the future.


Rolf Odermatt, Design Group Leader, V-ZUG Ltd

Mr Odermatt, could you describe a typical day at work?

Rolf Odermatt: A typical day is a day full of appointments. These are mainly technical discussions with the engineers in our team but I also have lots of interdisciplinary meetings. At the moment, a large part of our work involves defining technical requirements that can be clearly qualified, that correspond to our current expertise, but which aren’t specific to any particular solution.

What kind of requirements?

Rolf Odermatt: Primarily market requirements. In other words: what do our customers want?

Beat Erni: The product manager brings us the market requirements. Rolf Odermatt and his team then translate them into technical language. Moreover, we now have a Requirements Engineer for Mechanics, Erich Bisang, who helps us to classify and formulate the requirements.

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“…But the big challenge is finding a good solution that is as cost-effective as possible. The customer should receive an excellent service at a reasonable price. “

Is it always possible to implement these requirements?

Rolf Odermatt: You can implement a lot of them from a technical point of view, which is great for engineers. But the big challenge is finding a good solution that is as cost-effective as possible. The customer should receive an excellent service at a reasonable price.

Beat Erni: There are always ideas that you have to eliminate from the project after the innovation phase, because you are not yet able to prove that they work. These ideas are put to one side and, if possible, developed further in a follow-up project. In order to increase our implementation rate, we have recently put together a new technology group within the Development department. These employees pursue new ideas and technologies in the fields of surface technology and many others with the aim of proving their feasibility. They will then hand over the best possible results to a product project team.


How do you react to changes within a development process?

Rolf Odermatt: We address important changes and consider what kind of an impact they will have on a project. If necessary, we will initiate measures to respond to the changes.

Beat Erni: Market requirements change at a much faster pace than they used to. Expectations are high, especially with regard to user interfaces. But networking/digitisation is also a big topic.

RO: A big advantage is that everyone involved is located centrally here in Zug – from the Marketing and Development departments to Production. This helps us to act quickly and to be flexible.

“Market requirements change at a much faster pace than they used to. Expectations are high, especially with regard to user interfaces. But networking/digitisation is also a big topic.”


With V-ZUG-Home, you can network your household appliances so that they can always benefit from the very latest innovations – whether that’s today or in the future. This makes life even more efficient and convenient for households with the app.


Beat Erni, Head Engineering Product Segment Kitchen, V-ZUG Ltd


Are there framework conditions that influence the development phase?

Beat Erni: Yes. For example, the number of standards governing energy consumption and safety is constantly on the rise. And we are also dealing with the subject of the Internet of Things: what can actually be controlled via another interface? What kind of a solution really adds value for the customer? Some of these standards are still incomplete. And costs always present a major challenge. Developing a product is an expensive process, and our development work is carried out at our headquarters in Zug. The costs of a product accrue in the first 20 % of the time it takes to develop – after that, the cost impact is low. It is therefore essential to spend a lot of time systematically preparing the product.

What challenges do you expect to face in the future?

Beat Erni: Changes are sure to accelerate even further, and the big challenge will still be to impress customers with outstanding innovations. In addition, V-ZUG Ltd as a whole must align the current business models with the new possibilities and opportunities. If we don’t do it, it’s likely that others will.

Rolf Odermatt: And the population is getting older, which means that older people are healthier and keep living at home for longer than they used to. This widens our target group range.
Beat Erni: It also presents us with the opportunity to offer people with disabilities added value thanks to new technologies – for example with voice control, robots or virtual reality glasses. In this way, we can support independent living for the elderly and also provide new opportunities for all of our customers. The future is exciting!

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Get to know the latest product developments – V-ZUG Novelties 2018


The future is now – Take advantage of networked household appliances: for example, you can receive a start message on your smartphone for a programmed delayed start or you can be notified when the dish you are preparing is ready to serve.

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Thanks to cutting-edge inductors, this hob automatically recognises the position and size of the pans. This allows you to place 6 pans wherever you want on the glass ceramic sheet. The FullFlex hob promises a unique cooking experience and makes cooking even more enjoyable.

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The new Fusion hob includes an integrated range hood ensuring plenty of headroom. This hob makes cooking so much easier so that you can happily focus all your attention on preparing your meals. The built-in range hood draws fumes downwards from beside the pans and even communicates with the hob.

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Pureness design line

For design aficionados with a nose for clear, stylish elegance, we have a new design line in our product range. The handles are made from high-quality anodised aluminium, creating a slate-like effect. Sophisticated engraving on the inside of the handle is reflected on the mirror glass.

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Cooling Side-by-Side

This stylish side-by-side solution warms the heart: the combination of a single-door fridge and a single-door freezer offers you even more convenience in the kitchen. With its modern features, the new Jumbo 60i fridge offers plenty of space. Combined with the new Iglu 60i freezer, this solution is a design element offering a high level of functionality.

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More information about the V-ZUG novelties 2018 can be found on our website

or can be downloaded here:  V-ZUG Highlights 2018 (PDF)

V-ZUG Highlights 2018




You may also be interested in the following blog post:

Stephan Keller V-ZUG


Interview with Stephan Keller, Director Development Division V-ZUG Ltd  “Here in Switzerland, we are in the European Silicon Valley”



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