Over the last 20 years INFOSERVE Ltd has served the automotive sector and IT services. We talked with the managing director, Dr Stefan Leinenbach and the authorized officer and IT manager, Dr Philipp Walter on past and future subjects and enquired their point of view concerning the commonalities of successful digitization projects.
In the IT industry 20 years are comparable to eternity. Concerning requirements of the automotive sector, how did they evolve?
Stefan Leinenbach: In the early stages of the millennial, the internet was the commanding talking point: networking, distributed client and server applications, websites, availability and confidentiality. These days these topics are standard; even under strict security and data requirements. Topics observed in recent years primarily include industry 4.0, digitization, IoT and as of late artificial intelligence. Isolated applications like predictive maintenance not only enable the realization of high saving potential but additionally provide the basis for an extensive digitization which collectively boosts transparency and flexibility of production.
In light of the current upheavals and contingencies in the automotive sector, this is an important component for a quick adjustment.
Philipp Walter: Unlike earlier times, there is no need these days to develop everything yourself, but having recourse to many established hardware and software modules. Although what will remain an important issue for the future is the security of investment: depending on how I establish an IT solution, it will lead to a greater or lesser extent.
What is attracting our attention are the old production IT silos wherein the companies are trapped by trying to keep them alive with ever growing effort despite no longer supported windows versions, old interfaces, self-made database with performance problems, etc. This Gordian IT knot is often, as a matter of fact, a greater challenge than developing an AI procedure.
Don’t you think that in the near future we will be enable to purchase finished IoT and AI solutions, comparable to today’s acquisition of office software?
Stefan Leinenbach: The ecosystem is in motion at all levels, that’s for sure. Nowadays you can choose between dozens of manufactures, technologies and architecture approaches; new ones are currently being added every day. Meanwhile a consensus, on how such solutions should be technically structured, is shadowy apparent. Furthermore the endings of such a processing chain are still uncertain: on the one hand the automation, MES, and ERP systems and the workers and decision- makers on the other. However, a wide variety of manufacturer-specific islands and cloud solutions are offered, even though companies intrinsically require interoperability and own data sovereignty.
Philipp Walter: Apart from that, such solutions have to be as individual as the respective production. You cannot tackle top to bottom by acquiring a platform at first and only then examining which problems are able to be solved.
Of course it would be ideal if the software could automatically identify the use case, but there is still a long way to go. [laughs] One would not purchase an appropriate looking machine if you want to produce an innovative piece to wait and see whether a construction can be derived. Concerning our projects, predictive maintenance turned out to be grateful start due to the fact that you are able to acquire a ROI in the short term and once connected data sources from SPS, MES, ERP etc. simplify further use cases.
Individual solutions might sound like a great deal of maintenance effort and more silos.
Philipp Walter: Of course this kind of IT solution must be in the same way as a machine periodically maintained. Equally to the exchange from worn parts, it must be updated regularly. We continuously monitor it 24/7 on call comparable to condition monitoring.
Besides that we bank on a platform strategy, where the different modules are strictly separated; with the result that we can exchange a module for a different one, with the consequence that we do not create another obsolete silo.
Stefan Leinenbach: Individuality is strength in this particular case, since we do not start with an expensive software, but with small steps to the extent of few person days. Therefore our bottom-up approach is nearly riskless. What we do is not altering the current IT; we read out of it at most. Even industrial controls do not represent a problem. If a use case is for any reason no use, there are hardly any extra costs. However, it was hitherto been the case that as a result of the system constructed by us, many other use cases and applications occurred quickly and could be covered.
What would you specifically recommend by talking about digitization projects?
Stefan Leinenbach: Initially setting manageable targets – that is the crucial factor for success for digitization projects. No synergy potentials are getting lost dealing with simple applications at the beginning. Quite the contrary: if you focus on a separate strike through first, it can fail to a lesser extent than building an enormous infrastructure for use cases which is not sounded out yet. We ensure that it will not become an island, but a flexible, modern, expandable basis complying the latest state of art even in several years.
Founded in 1995 as a service provider, INFOSERVE Ltd evolved over the years into a national and innovative IT system vendor, being in charge of not only secure cloud services but also intelligent web services. We consider ourselves to be a qualified managed service expert and full-stack IT service provider. Together with technology partners and specialized knowledge, our on-site high performance datacenter provides a basis for implementing and supervising customized IT projects.
Professional – We are an ISO 9001 certified IT service provider with 25 years of experience in the market. We have successfully implemented over 1000 projects across multiple sectors including industry, finance, medical centers, retail, IT companies and public authorities.
Secure – Our ISO 27001 certified highly secure datacenter is a secure home for all of your applications, data and infrastructure which is ready to meet your outsourcing needs.
Smart – Our certified employees bring a wealth of domain knowledge from the automotive, retail and banking services sectors, enabling us to offer a complete one-stop service package including advice, infrastructure, development, sales and support.
Agile – We pursue a nimble approach to clarifying requirements and development with the guarantee of negligible risk even if requests are incomplete because of short feedback cycles. What is more we ensure an early safe guarding of feasibility through PoCs.