In Germany, there is a loud call for "digitalisation" as the answer to many challenges in the industry and in companies. While this is, in most cases, based on basic concepts that are diffuse and vague, Wöhner is already several steps ahead. In this conversation, the CEO, Philipp Steinberger, and the Vice President Product Peter Spiel, explain the role that digitalisation plays in the industry, in the context of the Wöhner brand and for the Wöhner products.

Steinberger: In our industry, digitalisation is often discussed in connection with the term "Industry 4.0". The topics of automation, process improvement, big data and, last but not least, greater sustainability are all part of this.

In addition, we are observing that generally, centralized systems are being replaced with a decentralized periphery that generates, stores and distributes energy more independently but also in a more intelligent and demand-based manner.
In the field of renewable energies, it is important to take into account the fact that the availabilities are different. To take advantage of the autonomy gained from using renewable energies, energy distribution systems must intelligently smooth or balance out the fluctuations in availability and demand. They must also be able to supply energy in the usual reliable way. We as companies and a society must find solutions to these challenges if we are to overcome the challenges of the near and distant future.

Spiel: In addition, in the context of Industry 4.0, we have a great need for automation, which is closely linked to digitalisation. As well as a certain company mindset, this affects all areas from planning and procurement to production and logistics. 

This is because products' intelligence is constantly growing, in particular regarding their interaction with users. As a result of a progressive digitalisation of the industry, increased efficiency is initially achieved – in terms of processes, scaling, time savings and also sustainability, as not only are we saving electricity, but we are also able to make better decisions as a result of this new product intelligence.

Steinberger: That's right – digitalisation in our industry and beyond means an increase in more intelligent business processes, production processes and products. So, digitalisation and therefore also an expansion of automation, are, in my opinion, crucial in driving Germany forwards as a business location.

At Wöhner, we are seizing digitalisation and the new possibilities that it offers us throughout our business, giving us a type of toolbox that we can use to realise our vision and further expand our role as a leader of innovation.

Spiel: For me, sustainability is also a big factor here, which spurs on innovation even more. Especially when it comes to big data and data quality, there is a lot of potential, which we at Wöhner have firmly in our sights.

Most products already feature measurement technology in the form of sensors that produce data, which is processed centrally in a PLC (programmable logic controller). However, the next step depends on what happens to this data.

Alongside energy monitoring, we can also perform pre-emptive maintenance (maintenance before a problem occurs) or ensure more efficient operation of a machine. We believe that this data traffic, which is generally growing, must be prepared for the user quickly and in a worthwhile way – directly in the device.

For example, if we work with a decentralized controller, the device itself can communicate with the user via "threshold data" and inform them if a part needs replacing or another setting could make operation more sustainable.

Steinberger: Increased data competency of both the products and the system, but also of the entire industry will be one of the clear routes into the future. It's all about taking a holistic approach because this idea does not end with the product or the system in which it is integrated.

The real aim is for customers to be able to connect at all the touchpoints along this route. Whether it's system planning, ordering and delivery or further information, it should be provided to them in an automated and targeted manner.

It quickly becomes clear that taking a holistic approach means the collaboration of a wide range of players from the industry. Digitalisation is quick and efficient only when we work together

Wöhner GmbH & Co. KG
Elektrotechnische Systeme
Mönchrödener Str. 10
96472 Rödental



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