Password Safe is a highly developed encryption software and serves as a central digital safe for securing, managing and monitoring sensitive data such as passwords, (privileged) access and accounts.
On successful completion of the Password Safe Technical Training and the Password Safe Sales Boot Camp, focus employees were awarded the title of Password Safe Certified Technical Consultant (PWSCTC) and Password Safe Certified Sales Professional (PWSCSP).
Find more at https://www.passwordsafe.com/
In an interview with Maximilian Fischer, co-founder and board member of Actyx AG, our authorized officer Marcell Polley provides first hand insights on how the manufacturing market is changing, why edge- and cloud- computing will play a key role in this change, and why we decided to use the Actyx platform:
Actyx: What is your position at focus Industrieautomation?
M. Polley: I am one of the general managers at focus and work in project management and am responsible for sales.
Actyx: What is your personal background?
M. Polley: I did a classical apprenticeship in the electrical trade, and shortly after that a state technician for energy and process automation. After that I worked for nine years as a programmer in the automation environment and then went to evening school to become a technical business economist. Finally I changed to the company focus, where I have been working for 9 years now.
Actyx: Which services do you offer to your customers?
M. Polley: We are a service provider for IT and automation solutions, with a classic background in automation technology. We are deeply rooted in the Siemens ecosystem, but we are now quite independent of the equipment manufacturers. We recognized early on that IT would be an essential part of automation, and therefore we started training and hiring IT personnel more than 20 years ago. Now, at least a third of our people are IT specialists or computer scientists.
Actyx: Who are your typical customers?
M. Polley: We service many different industry verticals. We have customers in the pharmaceutical, chemical and process industries, machinery and equipment manufacturers, as well as public authorities in the water and sewage sector.
Actyx: What has been the most exciting project so far?
M. Polley: One highlight was certainly the Porsche Design Tower in Miami Beach. It has a parking system in the tower where you drive your car into the underground garage and the car is then driven fully automatically to your living room on the 56th floor. Galileo from ProSieben has even made a video clip about this. We designed and programmed the system together with a German engineering company.
Actyx: ... this is really an impressive project.
M. Polley: ... definitely. The owner was very proud to have developed the most expensive car parking system in the world.
Actyx: What are the biggest challenges for you at the moment?
M. Polley: The biggest challenge is clearly that the complexity of projects is increasing, in particular, more and more IT integration is now required. Security requirements in OT and IT are also getting higher and higher. In addition, the topic of digitization is becoming increasingly important, all customers want to digitize more and more. At the same time, many customers don’t yet know what they actually want. Our strength is certainly to make the added value of digital solutions easy to understand. For example, it's not enough to simply explain that digitization gives you access to data, but what you can achieve with it - better quality, higher output or higher plant utilization.
Actyx: How do you think the factory will change in the next few years?
M. Polley: I strongly believe that they will become much more digital. Production processes will be much more dynamic, batch sizes will decrease and products will be highly customized. This requires intelligent cyber-physical systems that are able to make independent decisions. Plants will optimize themselves through AI and more and more robots will come into factories. Finally, automated intralogistics systems will be intelligently linked to production processes in order to guide the material optimally through the factory.
Actyx: How does this change your business?
M. Polley: For us, it is important to keep up with recent developments, with new concepts and to offer this to our customers at an early stage. It is always easier if you are the first in the market and not the latecomer who offers the same solution that everyone else already has.
Actyx: Which concepts are the most important topics for the future for you?
M. Polley: For us the future topics are edge computing and the cloud. We clearly see the need to process data on the edge, to control processes and production orders there and to control quality. The cloud is then incredibly powerful at creating data consistency, analyzing data, and making data accessible anywhere in the world. For the cloud we heavily rely on Mindsphere from Siemens and on the Edge we use the Actyx platform. We're increasingly putting more focus on developing apps for these areas.
Actyx: How important is it for you to standardise your offer? So far you mainly offer customer specific solutions.
M. Polley: That's right, although we have always focused on standardization. We build our solutions mostly with a library of building blocks, which we developed ourselves. What is new for us is that we can suddenly make apps available to a much wider audience. For example, we are currently developing an app to analyze the behavior of a pump to detect anomalies and errors. We built the app in a very generic way, both for the cloud and the edge, because we know that we can now make the app available to a broad mass via the Siemens and the Actyx marketplace. This is possible only since very recently and it’s really exciting for us.
Actyx: What was the main reason to choose the Actyx platform?
M. Polley: We are simply very convinced of your concept of decentralisation, which allows you to run a solution without a central server. This is really new for us, because we have always been very centralized, with a database somewhere on a server. Up to now, we collected the data from the machines, sent it to the server and then pushed it back to the machines from there. The problem is that you are always dependent on the connection to the server; if it's not there, for example because the network is down, then the production process stops. This is of course catastrophic. It's much better if I can record and process the data directly at the machine and then send it later, if necessary, to a central server. I was really enthusiastic when I first heard about your approach. Everyone I told about this, confirmed that this is actually a much better way; a pure centralized approach really is non-sense.
Actyx: How expensive is such a network failure for a factory?
M. Polley: I recently read a study by MicroNova AG. On average one minute of downtime costs about 5'000 EUR, i.e. 300'000 EUR per hour. Only 2% of the companies manage to repair a network failure within one hour, on average it takes 5 hours, that's a lot of money. Even if the failure occurs only once a year.
Actyx: How should 5G be evaluated in this context?
M. Polley: Getting LTE, 5G or WLAN into the last part of the plant is incredibly difficult; there's just a lot of steel and concrete in a factory. With 5G it is actually even more difficult, it requires more masts because the range is shorter.
Actyx: Why didn't you use a decentralized approach before?
M. Polley: Because I didn't know of any solution that could do what your system does. I don't know of any comparable system that works like Actyx.
Actyx: How do you plan to use the Actyx platform in the future?
M. Polley: We see a huge potential, especially for customers who want to have more knowledge and control over their processes and assets. I see the need for data processing on the Edge with the majority of our customers. After all, digitization has only just begun, and with the cloud solution from Siemens and your decentralized Edge platform, I think we are very well positioned.
Actyx: Many thanks for the interview!
M. Polley: You are very welcome!
The coronavirus is spreading rapidly. As a company, the health and safety of our employees as well as our customers and business partners is very important to us and has the highest priority.
That is why we too would like to make our contribution to contain and slow down the further spread of the virus and to maintain the efficiency of our company.
For this reason, a large part of our staff will be working in the home office from today. The on-call service and the service for critical infrastructure and production facilities will of course continue. You can reach your contacts as usual via their business or mobile numbers. Our head office will also continue to be manned during the usual business hours.
The handing over of the Christmas donations - every year a very special date for us.
Also this time we have renounced again on Christmas gifts and support instead non-profit associations from the region.
At this point once again many thanks to Lichtblicke Rennerod e.V., the Turnverein 1901 Rennerod e.V. and the DLRG Westerburg e.V. for their great honorary commitment.
focus Industrieautomation GmbH received the final certificate for the successful completion of the "Sustainable Corporate Culture" audit of the New Quality of Work Initiative (INQA). The focus of the two-year process was the expansion of a corporate culture developed and supported by all employees in the areas of leadership, equal opportunities & diversity, health as well as knowledge and competence. Silke Trabelsi, Project Manager, focus Industrieautomation GmbH, explains: "We can only be successful together with our employees. Our goal was to make ourselves even more employee-oriented and to change workplace conditions positively".
The Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS), Hubertus Heil, presented the certificate at the ceremony held at the BMAS on 21 November 2019. He pointed to the changes in the world of work due to the advancing digitalisation. The INQA audit "Sustainable Corporate Culture" supports employers in successfully managing this change at company level and integrating the interests and wishes of their employees. "Today more than ever, attractive working conditions and a modern corporate culture and personnel policy are a hallmark for employers. The companies, administrations and associations that have received awards today show how it works and demonstrate farsightedness for innovative strength and sustainability," says Hubertus Heil. Lutz Stratmann, Managing Director of the Demography Agency for the Economy, also commented on the positive effect of the audit: "The early involvement of employees, as well as the instruments and processes of the INQA audit, have proven to be excellently suited to respond to the opportunities and challenges of a dramatically changing working world with suitable, affordable and sustainable solutions and measures".
With the help of the "Sustainable Corporate Culture" audit, companies and administrations gain clarity as to how future-oriented their organisational and personnel policies are and where potential lies. At the beginning of the audit process, an employee survey was therefore used to identify the perception of current working conditions and the resulting need for action. Then, with the help of external process support, a feasible action plan was developed which is oriented to the needs of the employees. Since the employees are often away from home due to customer visits, it was a challenge to schedule the appointments for the individual audit project groups in such a way that all participants could be present. Despite this hurdle, the work in the project group went smoothly, according to Silke Trabelsi. "The motivation of the employees was very high; all employees participated in at least one project. New employees were subsequently integrated into the project groups," says Trabelsi.
In total, focus Industrieautomation GmbH identified and implemented 17 focal points as part of the "Sustainable Corporate Culture" audit. These are subdivided into the focal points Leadership, Equal Opportunities & Diversity, Health and Knowledge & Competence. In the area of leadership, for example, the company focused on improving the involvement of employees in decision-making processes and creating a uniform working time model. With regard to the Equal Opportunities & Diversity focus, the job description was made more attractive for women, a home office concept was created and cooperation between new and older employees was expanded. In addition, offers on the subject of mental and physical health were developed. For example, intensive further training advice was used to integrate the topics of knowledge and competence more closely into the corporate culture. Process supervisor Simone Back from RKW Hessen is delighted with the good internal cooperation: "I was very impressed because all employees actually worked actively on at least one sub-project of the audit. So everyone was also involved in deciding how they wanted to work together in the future. This confirms to me that especially small companies with a flat hierarchy and good cooperation can score enormously through the audit."
The quickest successes could be seen, among other things, in the survey of demand for support in the promotion of mental and physical health and the election of an employee representative. It took longer to implement a uniform working time model and a home office concept, as these projects were linked to the completion of other projects. The company is very satisfied with the course of the audit and all measures were successfully and transparently implemented and accepted internally. The implemented projects now form a sustainable basis for a vibrant corporate culture that is constantly evolving in a forward-looking manner.
The "Sustainable Corporate Culture" audit
The audit "Zukunftsfähige Unternehmenskultur" is an offer of the initiative Neue Qualität der Arbeit (INQA) and is supported by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and implemented by the Demography Agency. It supports companies and administrations in recruiting and retaining employees by improving the working environment. Management and employees are supported by professional, external process support. They develop individual, sustainable measures in the central personnel policy fields of leadership, equal opportunities, health, knowledge and competence. The employees' identification with their company is decisively strengthened, thus creating the basis for innovation and sustainability. Further information is available at www.inqa-audit.de