Since June 2019, Leadec has had its own innovation hub dealing with the digital transformation. The “Smart Factory Group” develops digital service offers, serves as a platform for the exchange with external technology partners and promotes digitization inside the company. After the first 12 months, the Head of the Smart Factory Group, Dr. Bernd Voelpel, takes stock.
Mr. Voelpel, what is your summary of the first year as Head of the Smart Factory Group?
It was above all an exciting time. Leadec has great potential not only to make progress in digitization, but also to actually take it out to the streets, for example, through new business models. This is a must and a mainstay for our future.
What have been important milestones so far?
An important milestone is certainly the new IoT Home Cloud. Not only because several Leadec departments participated in this project, but because with this project we lay the foundation for implementing data-driven innovations in a professional and scalable manner, which, if required, interact seamlessly with our customers’ individual cloud technologies. This is a decisive competitive advantage, because the connection to the systems used for analysis, quality control or process management, for example, is one of the critical points of efficient cooperation. We use it to collect, structure and visualize data, derive concrete findings from it with the help of artificial intelligence or machine learning and finally initiate actions.
Your assessment: What role do innovation hubs play for companies at the moment and in general?
At the moment nobody knows exactly how the economic situation will develop in the next months. And there is a lot of pressure from the market. However, I believe that there is an awareness that courageous companies who, despite all adversities, continue to drive the digital transformation forward will be the winners in the end.
Can you give a concrete example here?
Speed is an important parameter. We as a small unit are very quick in implementing new concepts. Since we are a service provider there is no need for us to develop a material product and make it ready for the market. We work together with different departments at Leadec, e.g. Product Management or Production IT, who contribute essential industry expertise and technical expert knowledge. At the same time, we interact with external partners from science and business. This allows us not only to identify trends at an early stage, but also to deal with them specifically. To simply implement things in a different way. Because new ways of collaboration make such new models possible, and with the help of our site’s “do-how” and their on-site presence we are able to implement a lot.
Where do you see great potential as regards new digital business models?
In the factory of the future everything is about data. The benefit these data have can be offered in many different digital business models: subscription, license, software as a service, pay per use, etc. We have some interesting applications in the pipeline here together with our Product Management and Engineering colleagues. For example, internal logistics is an exciting topic where a lot is happening. Conventional conveyor systems are changed – for example to automated guided vehicles, routes and loads are optimized. Or take the topic of spare parts management in production equipment maintenance. Here millions of capital are tied up in warehouses. Thousands of articles, inconsistent data, distributed over several locations, practically no standards. This area is therefore virtually predestined to create real added value with digital solutions. These are exciting topics for us as innovation drivers.