Chicago Area Operations Help Siemens Navigate Downturn
Comerford, Mike, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Mike Comerford Daily Herald Business Writer
Sometimes Siemens Corp.' s Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld admits to being amazed by the technology being developed at the company's Hoffman Estates operation.
"It's not only unbelievable technology but it's the applications that are beautiful too," said Kleinfeld, looking at images of a heart, a brain and a leg generated by Axiom Artis, a nuclear imaging system developed here.
The head of U.S. operations for Germany-based Siemens AG was in the Chicago area from New York this week touring local plants and promoting his company's restructuring efforts.
An electronics and industrial giant, Siemens has been hurt by the downturn in the economy. Its two-part restructuring plan includes improving the bottom line and striving for a more integrated approach to its sales and marketing.
Although the company has been cutting jobs, its Chicago operations have not been significantly affected, Kleinfeld said.
With large facilities in Buffalo Grove and Hoffman Estates, local Siemens operations are mostly in medical products and building technologies. It has about 3,600 employees in the area at more than a dozen sites.
"I doubt most people know how much is made here and is distributed worldwide," said Kleinfeld, 44. "Our medical sales are one of our strongest areas worldwide."
At the Hoffman Estates facility, Siemens Medical develops, manufactures, markets and distributes products such as nuclear medical imaging workstations. Hoffman Estates is the firm's worldwide headquarters for software and medical product development.
"If it doesn't get invented here, it doesn't get invented," he said.
Consequently, it has cooperative agreements with local hospitals, including Northwest Community Hospital, Arlington Heights, to assist in field studies.
The specialty of the medical products unit has been in providing workflow products, supplying a myriad of computer-assisted patient information to speed and enhance the use of hospital resources. For example, Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago has reduced its medication cycle time by 64 percent, according to Siemens.
In Buffalo Grove, its building technologies operations provide high-tech security, lighting and climate control systems. It counts O'Hare International Airport and the United Center as customers.
Kleinfeld calls Chicago "pivotal" in Siemens' U.S. strategy.
Siemens' Chicago connection was bolstered earlier this year when it agreed to resell phones made by Schaumburg-based Motorola Inc. …