Issue 132 September 2016
By developing digital technology at a level of quality few can match, family owned company Widex has earned a strong reputation as one of the most innovative manufacturers of hearing aids in the industry
Founded in Denmark in 1956 by Christian Topholm and Erik Westermann, Widex has remained true to its roots by focusing on the technical development and manufacturing of high-quality hearing aids, as well as the sales and marketing of products. Renowned for the unique sound of its products and state-of-the-art technology, Widex provides a full line of hearing solutions for all types of hearing loss.
The company has a history of developing many of its own manufacturing equipment and production processes. Julian Topholm, Vice President of Production Technology at Widex and grandson of founder Christian Topholm, explains: “Traditionally we have done a lot of work in-house. Processes like nano coating, electronics mounting, rubber moulding and coil-winding are examples of this. We have a history of process development that leads us to constantly push our production process to the limit of what is possible. We have just finished installing our largest machine ever, a 600 m² automated testing machine that can assemble, test, calibrate, program and pack hearing aids. Looking at the way the market is evolving, I would say automation and process development is something that will continue to be focus points for us in the future.
“Our legacy of development and innovation has cemented our focus on quality and this commitment has kept us in business in a competitive market since 1956. An important part of our success is our technical expertise and solid reputation for producing some of the best hearing aids in the market; in the last 20 years we have pioneered developments like remote controlled hearing aids, digital hearing aids, as well as the use of 3D printing for moulds and shells,” he adds.
Today, Widex employs almost 4000 people worldwide, out of which 850 work at the company headquarters in Lynge, Denmark. The owners are closely involved in the company, and Widex enjoys an open-door culture and a high level of employee engagement. Alongside its headquarters, the company also boasts a large network of sales companies as well as manufacturing facilities in Estonia, where the labour-intensive assembly of parts takes place.
As an independent, family-owned company, Widex has the freedom to make long-term investments that bring the company closer to its vision without having to take into consideration obligations to shareholders. This way of operating has proven fruitful for the innovative company – as shown by the latest positive financial statements released in August 2016.
Discussing the importance of innovation, Julian comments: “Technology is key and the process of R&D is very important to us. Over recent years, a lot of our R&D has been focused on connectivity, that is the ability to connect hearing aids to other devices such as phones, tablets, computers and so on. This is something we will continue to work on while maintaining our strong focus on sound quality. Modern hearing aids are complex – part of the challenge is to establish the scope of sound and decide which sound sources need to be amplified and which need to be suppressed, as well as how to reduce feedback (whistling) and how to apply noise reduction. There are a lot of opportunities to continue developing even better products both when it comes to sound quality and other features like connectivity.”
Widex has a proud tradition of innovation and was the first company to bring a fully digital hearing aid to the market – a technology that revolutionised the industry; today all hearing aid manufacturers only produce digital hearing aids.
Having established a solid foothold in the hearing aid industry as one of the most important global players, Widex is well positioned to continue its innovative legacy.
Julian expects automated production technology to be an integral part of this: “We see strong growth over the coming years, and a bottom line that follows it, as our products become easier to manufacture while we work to increase the level of automation.”
Products: Hearing aid solutions