A strong connection for 70 years
As a pioneer of I 4.0, HARTING can likewise demonstrate and consolidate its technological leadership on the international markets.
Mr Harting, have you counted up the number of Hannover Trade Fairs you’ve exhibited at? Do you still remember your first one?
I don’t know exactly how many times I have been, but I have been attending the Hannover Messe as an interested visitor for 30 years and for 12 years I have always been there in my role as a manager.
How important is the Industry 4.0 impetus of the Hannover Messe for your company on the international markets?
It is hard to underestimate the boost to innovation which Industry 4.0 has given to German industry: it drives growth and increases competitiveness. I 4.0 represents a real opportunity for HARTING as a global technology group to financially manage the growing complexity by means of a global production network, increasing number of variants and decreasing life cycles. As a pioneer of I 4.0, HARTING can likewise demonstrate and consolidate its technological leadership on the international markets. As an information exchange and showcase for technological innovation, the Hannover Messe is a very important part of this.
Everyone’s talking about acceleration but also disruption in connection with Industry 4.0. Are the industrial SMEs also following on behind?
Industry 4.0 is about digitalisation in industry and is undoubtedly a huge and unavoidable challenge for industrial SMEs, one which cannot be ignored or simply approached passively or on a wait-and-see basis. Unless traditional business models and customer relationships, previous work and production structures are reviewed and reorientated, I 4.0 cannot succeed and companies will find themselves at risk in the medium and long term. For us however, there are two aspects to I 4.0. Firstly, we as a company are also tackling the challenge of digitalisation, in every department. This has implications right through from production to our business models. Secondly however, we are also perceived as I 4.0 enablers. For instance, our MICA moves data out of production into the cloud. This makes new services such as predictive maintenance possible. And the real benefits of I 4.0 derive from these new services.
What is your strategy on the international markets? Are the “maturity tests” on which you want to coach industrial manufacturers in Industry 4.0. configured in different ways?
The changes brought about by digitisation are a global phenomenon, creating huge demand internationally for solutions to integrate industrial production in all business applications. New services are needed everywhere. With our smart connectivity approach, in addition to our established plug connectors, which will still be relevant in future, customers will be able to access solutions which provide plug connectors with communication-enabled additional functions in the context of the IoT (Internet of Things).
When it comes to positioning itself as a comprehensive solution provider for Industry 4.0 instead of merely a component supplier, what efforts and changes does this require in the company?
Components too are changing and becoming solutions with additional customer benefits thanks to smart functionalities. It is therefore very important for us to offer our customers a high-performance spectrum of solutions. Conventional components occupy an important place in this spectrum. In many cases this is also characterised by I 4.0 requirements. For instance our Han-Modular® constitutes the backbone of the smart factory, as it can be used ultraflexibly to plug in modules. The MICA, which can perform diverse production tasks – from energy consumption recording to retrofitting for example, – is an open, modular solution which can be used in a variety of ways. We are collaborating on the MICA.network in connection with new business models. This obviously requires us to develop new competences and leads to substantial changes being implemented in the company.