Customized solutions for hidden champions

With customized solutions, software providers from Saxony help technology companies with their digital transformation. What all projects have in common is that they always involve processes that are so individual and special that they cannot be handled with standard software. Its customers include companies that hardly anyone knows: the so-called “hidden champions”. For them, the solution sometimes has to be even more specialized.

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Peter Strähle and Rocco Deutschmann, Managing Directors of Tracetronic (Source: Tracetronic)

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How Saxon software providers digitize technology companies

It is well known that Saxon software companies primarily work for B2B customers. These are often technology companies. They not only need to digitalize their production processes. Work organization and internal communication must also be converted to ensure quality and innovative strength – to a seamless, collaborative, digital way of working.

Digitalization of unique productions

Machines and systems are now interconnected across various process stages – even where production is not fully automated. In terms of product quality, this is simply essential. The problem is that no two production processes are the same. A digitalization solution for production must therefore inevitably be individual. Although it can make use of ready-made software tools, these must be adapted to the respective conditions and linked across systems to form a new whole. Sometimes, however, you even have to start from scratch. Designing and programming such systems, getting them up and running on site and then maintaining them – this is something that Saxon software companies have now mastered.

Semi-automated, fully automated

N+P Informationssysteme from Meerane, for example, specializes in the digitalization of non-fully automated production processes in mechanical and plant engineering. They call this combination of classic and modern “digital factory”. The offering covers the entire production process from design to accounting. The middle of the process chain is served by a specially developed MES software for collecting and processing process and machine data called NuPMES. (“MES” stands for “Manufacturing Execution System”.) This is ultimately Shopfloor Management 4.0. A platform for digital twins maps the production facilities as an illustrative working tool. All process data flows into it. Because the framework conditions are similar, N+P has also extended its offering to construction and facility management.

ZEISS Digital Innovation from Dresden, on the other hand, has “learned” fully automated production thanks to its special connection. The company’s software solutions not only benefit the highly specialized production processes of the parent company – for example in optics and medical technology production – but also the semiconductor industry and automotive manufacturers.

Profitable data processing

Both in automated production and in other industries, such as retail, it is important to manage huge amounts of data. Creating an order here that allows the data to be processed profitably is ensured by individual data platforms. Avantgarde Labs from Dresden offers them. Customized cloud solutions and support for data streams through AI modules are part of the offering. Profitable data processing – this is meant quite literally, as Managing Director Torsten Hartmann emphasizes. A solution that is individually tailored to the customer is a prerequisite for success. Not that Avantgarde Labs does not use any standard software – but it always forms only carefully selected building blocks in a customized overall package.

“The common denominator of our projects across all industries is: value creation from data.”
(Torsten Hartmann, Avantgarde Labs GmbH, Dresden)

The management of Avantgarde Labs, in front: Torsten Hartmann
(Source: Avantgarde Labs)

The good ones in the pot

Symate from Dresden offers an additional package especially for individual database systems in production. Its AI-based system DETACT sorts out the data generated in the process and links it in a way that would not be possible with conventional means, but which allows completely new insights into product quality and process development. DETACT serves production processes with a medium to high degree of automation, such as the injection molding or extrusion of plastic parts, the die casting of metal parts and additive manufacturing. In other words, industries such as medical and automotive technology can benefit from it. DETACT is also ultimately a tool for advanced store floor management. As an app, it docks onto MES systems such as the one from N+P mentioned above.

Software for software

Tracetronic serves an absolute niche – if you can call the market segment that because of its size. The company supplies software for testing software functions in vehicles. As we all know, cars have mutated into driving computer systems – ranging from engine control and braking systems to driver assistance systems. Because the code base is constantly growing and thousands of people are working on it, the risk of errors creeping into the system is also increasing. The task of the Tracetronic software is to detect these in good time. It does not drive, but ensures smooth driving. The Dresden-based software company serves vehicle manufacturers of all brands, both passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Tracetronic’s market niche is therefore huge; it covers the whole world.

Everyday working life at Tracetronic
(Source: Tracetronic)

Better in the office

Providers such as Communardo and Staffbase use their digital communication solutions to ensure that digitalization in companies outside of production processes moves forward – and that quality and innovative strength are also ensured at the periphery. Communardo offers customized solutions that cover the entire spectrum of operational processes: Knowledge management, project management, contract management, service management and so on. Standard software modules, such as those from Microsoft or Atlassian, are customized and linked to create individual systems. Each project is preceded by an intensive consulting phase. Staffbase, on the other hand, concentrates on the area of internal communication and has even developed its own standard software for this purpose. It is therefore quite possible that Communardo will integrate a Staffbase product into the digital workplace.

“Our solutions combine software from leading providers to create an integrated digital workplace.”
(Dirk Röhrborn, Communardo GmbH, Dresden)

Dirk Röhrborn, Managing Director of Communardo and Chairman of the Silicon Saxony Executive Committee

Helping the hidden masters

There is a type of company that also needs to digitize, but at the same time can do particularly little with standard solutions due to extreme specialization. These are what management consultant Hermann Simon calls “hidden champions”. These are companies, usually from the technology sector, that dominate the market with a unique innovative product, even though they are often SMEs. It is precisely these hidden champions that Saxon software companies dedicate themselves to. 

Production: still “hidden”, but already digital

This is how N+P has digitized the design department of Freiberger Compound Materials. The company produces unique substrates for compound semiconductors worldwide. The software company also revolutionized the production of special plant manufacturer SITEC from Chemnitz with a tailor-made ERP platform. The database created by the software can now even be used to derive new business models for SITEC. Trützschler, the global market leader in cotton spinning machines from Mönchengladbach, benefits from a digitalization solution for pre-sorting raw cotton, an otherwise highly complex process. Appsfactory from Leipzig provided it. FEP Fahrzeugelektrik Pirna supplies the entire automotive industry with plastic connectors. DETACT, the analysis software from Symate, helps with quality-assuring process data monitoring. It has also supported carbon concrete, the new building material developed at TU Dresden, with data analysis of the material composition and process on its way to being used by innovative construction companies. The simple robotics software solutions from Wandelbots also benefit small, innovative technology companies that cannot afford external robot programmers in terms of time or money.

Finally, the processes

For hidden champions, it is particularly important for quality assurance that the operational processes are right all round. Communardo has contributed to two such companies with solutions for the digital workplace. They could hardly be more different. One company is Meyer Werft in Papenburg, the “manufacturer” of spectacular luxury liners and cruise ships. The other is Plansee, based in Reutte, Austria, and produces globally unique special metallic materials.

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The author

Michael Schmidt
Text | Concept
Lewickistraße 55 b, 01279 Dresden
Telephone +49 351 25062955
Mobile +49 151 55591473

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This article was created as part of NEXT “In the spotlight: Software”.

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