Engineering, embedded software and technical documentation are the three core businesses of the Finnish company Etteplan. Active in The Netherlands since 2012, they recently opened a new office at High Tech Campus Eindhoven in one of the most modern and sustainable buildings on Campus. Etteplan's ambition in The Netherlands is to grow rapidly, expand their services and increase brand awareness.
“Let me show you the view from our window,” says Bram Berden during the Teams interview, as he tilts the screen to a peaceful view of green meadows and ponds bordering Etteplan’s brand new office building at High Tech Campus Eindhoven. “It really gives me a holiday feeling.” Berden is area manager for Etteplan in the south of The Netherlands and manager of the new Eindhoven office. “Everything is so new and modern here, our employees really love this place. The Campus has a certain vibe, you feel that you’re close to your clients. I think it will do wonders for our brand awareness.”
Name recognition for our new customers is one of the things Etteplan hopes to boost with their move to the Campus. In Finland, where the company was founded, and Sweden, where it has many clients, Etteplan is well known. Less so in The Netherlands. “That has partially to do with the fact that we operate in a niche market,” Berden explains.
AR and VR solutions Technical documentation involves writing and producing instruction manuals for the installation, assembly and maintenance of complex machines. Etteplan produces manuals for companies like Phillips, VDL and NXP, to name some of their bigger clients. “Our manuals are targeted to the technicians who install and service the machines, not the end user like the nurse operating an MRI scanner,” clarifies Berden. “Our dream is to provide this service to all machine manufacturers in The Netherlands.”
Etteplans manuals involve both written instructions and visuals. “We’re increasingly making use of 3D imaging, animation, as well as AR and VR solutions,” Berden says. They currently employ a hundred content creators, sixty writers and forty illustrators. The average age of their employees hovers around fifty, since the work demands a fair amount of experience. Yet Berden hopes to augment the staff with younger talent as well. It is one of the reasons the company moved to the High Tech Campus. Berden: “The Campus really has an excellent reputation and will help to attract new talent. We’ve also started conversations with Fontys college and the Technical University Eindhoven to better profile ourselves with that younger age bracket.”
Mostly data Berden believes Etteplan can contribute a unique perspective to the Campus business environment. “Almost all of the companies here have to deal with technical documentation. Usually it’s something that comes up at the end of the production process. Most of the time companies just hire some hands to do the writing for them. But if you work with us we introduce the documentation at the start of the process, which saves a lot of problems and hassles later on. Because we use a clear structure it allows companies to work much more efficiently.”
Etteplans documents are built up in small modules of text or visuals. “Technical documentation used to be filed in books and paper manuals, but nowadays it’s mostly data,” Berden says. “We provide a new delivery platform called Etteplan HowTo, where data is available at every place all the time. That way an operator or service technician has quick access to the information he needs on his mobile device without having to search through an entire document.”
Etteplan HowTo was launched in 2021 as a turnkey service to provide easy and immediate access to the right information for end-users. This will boost productivity in operation and service and facilitate the creation and management of information, the company states on its website.
Ample opportunities to grow Etteplan employs 3400 people worldwide and has a global turnover of €250 million, which the company wants to double by 2024. To realise that ambition Etteplan not only relies on organic growth but also regularly acquires other companies. In The Netherlands they bought the engineering company Tegema last year, specialising in customised precision mechanics and mechatronics.
The Dutch branch had a turnover of €9 million in 2020 and now has five offices with a focus on technical documentation and engineering solutions. “Embedded software will probably be added in the future,” says Berden. “With embedded software as part of our portfolio in The Netherlands we’ll be an interesting company for graduate students in Eindhoven. They will have ample opportunities to grow and switch fields within the company.”
Because of corona things are still a little quiet on Campus, but at lunchtime Berden is happy to see many people leaving their offices and coming together to share a meal in one of the many restaurants on Campus. “We’re looking forward to the time when events will come back again. We’re planning to participate fully and also organise some events ourselves.”
He also looks forward to the other companies that will occupy the building later in the year. “I heard that TNO will rent a space here, as well as smart building designer Spacewell and two other companies. That’s definitely interesting for possible future collaborations.”