Q & A with Dr.-Ing. Patrick Müller, CONTACT Software GmbH
In recent years, CONTACT Software has been transforming from a PLM professional to an IoT provider. Why is that?
We started with data and process management in the area of product development. But new methods of handling and linking data – including AI – now make it sensible to look further: How can data from the product creation phase be transmitted directly to production? How do I need to couple production steps with my logistics concept and the handling of the order, i.e. from an information logistics perspective? How can user feedback be fed back into product optimization? With new digital technologies, you achieve data consistency that generates added value for the process landscape in companies. The willingness to tackle such topics has increased massively in industry.
How far have companies come in terms of data consistency?
Less far than one would expect. Production has been getting tidier for years, a lot is being automated. In contrast, there is a lot of catching up to do in the area of end-to-end data flows. There are various reasons for this. For example, there are many IoT platforms, but almost all of them serve a limited field of application. This makes it difficult to establish connectivity in order to bring together data from all relevant areas of the company in the sense of integrated applications, for example cockpits. In order to optimally support batch size 1 in terms of information technology, the first step is to harmonize information levels. Together with Fraunhofer IPK, we are developing technologies that aim to do just that.
But do production companies know what they get out of it?
Yes, they do. A few years ago, they didn’t really know: What is a digital twin in my application area? What does digital thread mean to me? What does it even mean in terms of technology? Now there is a much clearer picture. There are technological answers, and with that comes a willingness to act on them. Now we have to take all these things to the next level and work together in the supply networks for the circular economy and an Industry 5.0.