Question: A closing event, such as the one held here in Herzogenaurach, is not sufficient to bring the results to a wider public. What plans do you have for doing this?
Eigner: Instead of the normal concluding report, we are writing a book that will be available at the end of the year. We want to make the information known as far and wide as possible because there is a great deal of interest in it. This is made clear simply by the large number of participants at the closing event, which genuinely impressed me.
Question: What is Schaeffler's view of all this? The project results most definitely represent a competitive advantage. Are you prepared to share them?
Koch: There is a consortium agreement that was put together by legal experts from all the partners. This sets out clear rules for publishing the results. And of course we are bound by these. Naturally, the ideal thing would be to be able to implement the results in a completely new IT solution.
Question: How can the heads of mid-sized companies benefit from the project? How can they implement the results in their businesses?
Eigner: We at the Kaiserslautern University of Technology are in the fortunate position of also being members of the SME 4.0 Competence Center, which is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). This is not a scientific forum but instead a forum for technology transfer. As a result, we have many contacts with mid-sized companies with whom we discuss similar topics, even if they do not always go by the name Industrial Internet (or "Industrie 4.0" as it is called in Germany). Here, we keep meeting companies that have fantastic products, often already equipped with sensors, but which are not fully exploiting their potential. For example, we developed a new service concept enabling one of the market leaders in the arc welding field to use the sensor data to identify failures at an early stage, on the one hand, and to help its customers optimize their welding processes, on the other.
Question: How practicable are the demonstration models that incorporate the project results? Will something like this be introduced at Schaeffler in the near future?
Koch: It is unlikely that we will integrate a new system vendor in our IT landscape. However, because the methods are transferable, we will pass them on to our tool vendors. We are holding discussions with them to identify our core requirements and where they or their systems need to develop further. There is still plenty for system vendors to do.
Eigner: But at least we have a blueprint. In particular, what CONTACT and SIEMENS have implemented is a good example of how this type of solution can be integrated.