Implementing Industry 4.0 and Industrial IoT

If the internationally active Körber Group sets itself the goal of becoming a leader in digitization, that’s already news: Around 10,000 employees need to be enthused about the benefits of digitization. Five business units and more than 100 production, service and sales companies complement their offering with new digital innovations. 

“In future, the digital and technological development of the Körber Group will contribute to justify our claim to market leadership through technology leadership. Our goal is to be our customers’ first choice for innovative, technologically leading and digital solutions,” stresses Daniel Szabo, CEO of Körber Digital GmbH. Körber AG is the holding company of the international technology group based in Hamburg. At its locations around the world, Körber combines the advantages of a global organisation with the strengths of highly specialised, flexible medium-sized companies offering their customers solutions, products and services in the fields of automation, logistics systems, pharmaceutical systems, tissue and technologies as well as Körber Digital.

Significantly increasing the digital share

The digitisation strategy pursued by the Körber Group in the interests of its customers is taken up by the entire Group – at all levels and in all specialist functions at all locations. Nevertheless, it takes someone who encourages, coordinates, motivates and questions ideas: Dr. Christian Schlögel has been Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at Körber since September 2018. “Our Group operates internationally in a wide range of industries and technology fields. We network our experts and their comprehensive know-how, in order to offer our customers tailor-made, innovative products and solutions. We want to significantly increase the digital share of these solutions, as digitization will become an essential part of our added value.” Schlögel, who already has experience in the role of a CDO, knows the recipe for successfully combining a very well-established business with the possibilities of digitisation: “First, consider the right business models, then follow a clearly structured innovation process and apply the existing, broad expertise in implementation. With the founding of Körber Digital and the acquisition of connyun, Körber has taken another big step in this direction. The digital experts working there will support all our Business Areas, above all with their expertise in IIoT solutions. Our customers will benefit from the combined expertise in dedicated digital products and services."

Building deep tech companies

“We are very quick and agile. Everyone in the team must quickly recognise and perfect good ideas. That’s the point: being one step ahead. That’s why we deliberately went to Berlin. There’s a great momentum here,” says Dr. Stefan Kusterer, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Co-Managing Director at Körber Digital. “For decades, Körber has stood for excellent machine and plant construction. We have strong roots here. However, both industries no longer work without clever software. For several years now, we have been massively expanding our software competence in all Business Areas.” Kusterer is particularly proud of the digital innovation process at Körber. “Having a good idea is one thing; successful implementation is another. Development cycles are often long in classical mechanical engineering. With digital products and services, you can only be competitive if they are implemented in very short cycles. Our direct customer contact during the development process enables us to immediately recognise their needs, understand them and implement them in the solution. If it turns out during joint product development that the product does not bring the desired added value, we halt development within a very short time. This allows losses to be minimised and capacities to be used elsewhere,” says Kusterer, describing the structured, flexible approach.

IIoT Software Expertise

“The flood of content around the topic of Industry 4.0 has really swelled. However, in my view, decision makers – i.e. entrepreneurs, production managers or even lean managers - are often left in the dark when it comes to concrete implementation. Very often, there is a lack of clear orientation and this is where we aim to offer real added value,” Kusterer explains. Having connyun being integrated in Körber Digital since mid of 2018, Körber Digital also benefits from the second location Karlsruhe, cooperating with neighbouring universities, research institutes and medium-sized manufacturing companies. The team in Karlsruhe is highly expertised in Cloud Software, Connectivity, Big Data technology and Data Science. IIoT standard software applications are the core of the portfolio. These are supplemented by Data Science and consulting projects that help customers realise the full potential of their production. For Kusterer, it’s very important to take the perspective of manufacturing companies and machine builders: “Körber Digital brings together two things that cannot be reproduced just like that: a deep understanding of the needs of manufacturers; and a high level of software competence with a focus on IIoT. You cannot develop industry 4.0 solutions that add value without also understanding something about industrial manufacturing. In this sense, Körber Digital is very different from providers in the consulting business or IT. It is very important to us that our solutions meet the real manufacturing requirements, and are completely real: ready for use, easy to connect, useful and economically attractive.”

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