Our jury

The overall winner of the "Excellence in Production" competition, given the title "Tool-Maker of the Year", as well as the winners in each of the four categories are decided on by our jury, consisting of selected representatives from the fields of industry, politics, trade associations and science.

Who are the members of our jury?

Ralph Appel, VDI Director

After studying industrial engineering at Hamburg University of Technology TUHH, Ralph Appel first worked for Maizena GmbH in Hamburg as a financial trainee and controller, before moving on to Cerestar in 1987, one of the leading European companies in the starch industry. He stayed there until 2002 – his last position was as Commercial Director Food Europe – then took on the job of Global Head of Texturizing Solutions Business for the internationally active producer of foodstuffs Cargill. Ralph Appel was also Managing Director and Country Lead for Cargill in Germany before he was chosen as VDI Director in 2013.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Berg's MBA, Institute Director WZL and Fraunhofer IPT, Process Technology

Professor Bergs is Head of the Chair for Manufacturing Technology and member of the directorship at the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering WZL at the RWTH Aachen as well as Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT. After studying mechanical engineering, Professor Bergs has held various positions at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT since 1995, where he has held the position of Chief Executive Engineer since 2001. He became university professor for the subject »Technology of Manufacturing Methods« at the RWTH Aachen on June 1, 2018.

Dr.-Ing. Christof Bönsch, CEO Frimo Group GmbH

Dr. Bönsch is CEO of the Frimo Group GmbH. From 2007 to 2018 he has been the managing director of the KOMET GROUP GmbH and was responsible for technology and sales. Previously, Dr. Bönsch has held managerial positions in various businesses in the USA and Luxembourg including the management of electrical engineering companies and suppliers to the automobile industry. Dr. Bönsch is also a member of the board for the precision tool division at the VDMA, Consulting Committee for the production and logistics degree at the Heilbronn University and a member of the GFE Schmalkalden board of trustees.

Dr. Joachim Damasky, German Association of the Automobile Industry (VDA), Managing Director for Technology and Environment

After studying electrical engineering at the technical university of Darmstadt, Dr. Damasky worked as a research associate at the institute of electrical power supply from 1889 until 1994. In 1995, Dr. Damasky received his PHD at this institute. From 1994 until 2008, Dr. Damasky worked for Hella KGaA Hueck & Co. (Lippstadt) before he operated as product manager and as commercial director of the Behr Hella Service GmbH (Hessental) from 2005 until 2008. From August 2008 until September 2015 Dr. Damasky was a member of the executive board of Webasto SE (former Webasto AG) and was responsible for the business division Thermo and Comfort. On the 1st of May 2016 Dr. Joachim Damasky became the manager of technic and environment of the Automotive Industry Association (VDA). At the VDA Dr. Damasky is the successor of Dr. Ulrich Eichhorn.

Markus Heseding, Managing Director VDMA Precision Tools Association

After studying mechanical engineering, Markus Heseding began working for the VDMA in 1992. He was responsible for technical issues related to hydraulic pumps, European trade association policies, standardization (DIN, CEN, ISO) as well as conference organization until 1999. Heseding then moved on to the division for industrial motors where he worked as CEN secretary, ISO secretary, Director of the Division at the Mechanical Engineering Standards Committee, CIMAC General Secretary and was responsible for the topic of research. He took over the management of the VDMA Association Measuring and Testing Technology on 01.06.2012 and the management of the VDMA Precision Tools Association on 01.07.2013. Tool and die making is the largest of the three sectors of the VDMA Precision Tools Association and accounts for around 50 percent of production value.

Ministerial Director Dr. Winfried Horstmann, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

After his doctorate in 1991, Dr. Horstmann was employed in the Federal Chancellery. In addition to his focus on energy and industrial policy, he also took on the role of group leader. Dr. Horstmann has been Head of Department for Industrial Policy at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy since 2018.

Dr.-Ing. Rolf-A. Schmidt, Deloro HTM GmbH

Dr. Schmidt has worked at Deloro HTM GmbH since 2012. His first job was at LuK Automobiltechnik in Hückeswagen as Head of Technology Development. From 2004 to 2010 he worked at Feintool Technologie AG in Lyss, Switzerland, where he was responsible for the hardening shop as Head of Technology Services. Dr. Schmidt was general manager and member of the management board at Feintool Technologie AG. Dr. Schmidt has worked at Benteler Rothrist AG from 2012 to 2018. He is also a recipient of the Borchers Badge awarded by the RWTH Aachen.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dipl.-Wirt. Ing. Günther Schuh, WZL and Fraunhofer IPT Director, Production Management

Professor Schuh is Head of the Chair for Production Engineering and director of the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering WZL at the RWTH Aachen and Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT in Aachen. He is also scientific CEO at the Institute for Industrial Management FIR at the RWTH Aachen University e.V., associated director at the Kühne Institute for Logistics and visiting professor at the University of St. Gallen. Prof. Schuh is a founding partner of the GPS Group based in Aachen, St. Gallen and Atlanta and on the governing board, supervisory board and advisory council of various mechanical engineering and software companies.

Lutz Weisbecker, former managing director at Joh. Heinr. Bornemann GmbH

Lutz Weisbecker was managing director at Joh. Heinr. Bornemann GmbH in Obernkirchen from 2007 to 2009. He headed the maintenance division at Krupp MaK in Kiel between 1976 and 1981. He headed Development and System Planning until 1986 at Dörries Scharmann in Mönchengladbach. After working for Thyssen Hüller Hille GmbH as Design Director, he became managing director at Schuler-SMG in Waghäusl until 1994. He then became managing director at Battenfeld Spritzgießtechnik International in Meinerzhagen and ThyssenKrupp MetalCutting GmbH.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dipl.-Wirtsch.-Ing. Carl-Dieter Wuppermann, cdwuppermann innovation + strategy CDWIS

Professor Wuppermann has been self-employed since 2010 at cdwuppermann innovation & strategy CDWIS, Krefeld. C.-D. Wuppermann. Before that, between 2005 and 2010, he was active in all technical committees at the Steel Center in Düsseldorf. He was also executive member of the management board at the Steel Institute VDEh and chair of the governing body at the VDEh BFI (Operational Research Institute for Applied Research). Professor Wuppermann owns several patents, is author and publisher of several books, brochures and over 70 technical/scientific publications and was involved in over 200 national and international lectures and conferences.