In July 2018, the Körber Group acquired the start-up company connyun, a provider of standard IIoT applications. In the interview, Dr. Stefan Kusterer, CTO and (together with CEO Stefano Di Santo) Managing Director of Körber Digital and connyun, discusses the future corporate strategy and significance of Industry 4.0.
Digital Manufacturing Magazine (DM): Dr. Kusterer, lately, the name connyun has appeared in connection with the sale of Kuka to Körber. What do you expect from the integration into the Körber Group?
Stefan Kusterer: With the Hamburg-based Körber Group, we have found a new owner who wants to strengthen their digital competence by taking over connyun. At Körber, digitisation is not only top of the current agenda, but their goal is also to make it an integral part of the corporate culture. Due to the change of ownership, connyun is now part of the Körber Digital business, based in Berlin. connyun’s approximately 30 employees will remain in Karlsruhe, but they are already working together on cross-site projects with their new colleagues in Berlin.
For me, it’s very nice to see how well the teams get on and complement each other. Incidentally, this also affects the locations: Berlin has a unique start-up culture, while Karlsruhe has numerous mechanical engineering and manufacturing companies in the immediate vicinity. We will continue to expand our existing competencies and transform the employees at both locations into a powerful team. This puts us in a perfect position to promote the digitisation of Körber’s business areas, and also to develop new digital solutions.
DM: What does connyun stand for?
Stefan Kusterer: Let’s start with the name: “conn” is an abbreviation of the English “connected”, and “yún” is the Chinese word for “cloud”. The name symbolises terms such as device connectivity, cloud software, big data technology and data science. connyun brings together two things that cannot be reproduced in the same way: a deep understanding of the needs of manufacturing companies and software competence with a focus on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
You cannot develop industry 4.0 solutions that really add value without also understanding something about industrial manufacturing. In this sense, connyun is very different from other providers in the consulting business or IT. It’s easy for us to empathise with the thinking of manufacturing companies and mechanical engineers, because we carry out many joint projects. It’s very important to us that our solutions meet the requirements of manufacturing and are completely “real”, i.e. ready for use, easy to connect and economically attractive.
DM: What are your thoughts on Industry 4.0?
Stefan Kusterer: There’s been an enormous flood of content relating to Industry 4.0. In my opinion, decision makers - entrepreneurs, production managers or lean managers - are often left alone when it comes to concrete implementation. Very often, there is no clear orientation. In addition, the number of IIoT providers is constantly increasing. These factors make decision making more difficult for entrepreneurs. For connyun, it is very important to take the user’s perspective and develop directly applicable solutions. For example, for us it’s important to consider how devices can be easily connected to an IIoT solution, or how problems in production can be quickly identified and resolved.
As a computer scientist, I am especially fascinated by Industry 4.0’s modern software architectures, new algorithmic processes and ways of working. The issues that need to be resolved for IoT to become reality require the deployment of these new concepts. We are just at the beginning of a process that will massively change society: IoT, big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality will have a dramatic impact on our lives over the next few years. Actively accompanying this process with Körber Digital and connyun is an incredibly attractive and motivating occupation.
Published by Digital Manufacturing Magazine