What challenges does digitization pose?
Despineux: The possibilities offered by digitization naturally also increase the risk that traditional machine builders will find themselves competing with companies from the software and Internet industries that are not part of the industry. That's why we as machine builders must manage to intelligently combine our domain know-how with digitization expertise in such a way that, on the one hand, we can hold our own in the future in competition with data companies and, on the other hand, create continuous added value for customers that cannot be achieved by pure software groups in this way.
What do you have planned in this area in the near future?
Despineux: As digitization increases, so does the amount of machine data that can and must be processed. We are working on establishing a so-called "closed loop" for ongoing improvements to processes and products. In the future, data-based applications will also be the basis for predictive maintenance solutions. The technological requirements for this are already available today.
Digitization supports us in filling customer centricity with further content and developing new, value-creating digital products for our customers. Customer centricity can be learned and must be built up as a competence in relevant organizational units. The digital world provides a well-stocked toolbox of digital technologies and customer-centric methods for this purpose.
At this year's K 2022, we will also present in detail some innovations that we have developed in a customer-centric manner and transferred into digital products.
In your opinion, which technologies will become more important in the plastics industry in the coming years?
Despineux: A decisive success factor for the digital transformation and thus the scalable implementation of "Industry 4.0" is customer centricity. Standardized and modular machines supplemented by digital solutions will enable customers to achieve highly efficient and at the same time flexible production all the way to batch size one production. This will be supported by comprehensive and integrative service offerings.
The machine builders themselves will produce in a climate-neutral and more localized manner, and the machines produced will have a far wider range of applications than today due to their automation and digitalization.
Through digitalization and "hyper-connectivity", we must manage to successfully counteract the shortage of skilled workers. Through increasingly intelligent functions, including the use of artificial intelligence, machines will increasingly regulate themselves and support humans in decision-making. In addition, there will be applications that make certain work processes obsolete and enable preventive early action.