Digital revolution brings a large number of new tasks

Ivo Rauh, DEKRA SE board member and head of the Business Unit Industrial, discusses the digital revolution and the new challenges it presents for the expert organization.

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Ivo Rauh, DEKRA SE board member, discusses the digital revolution. (Picture: DEKRA)

Industry 4.0 is the latest hot topic. What is DEKRA’s involvement in this area?
Industry 4.0 is very much a German concept. In other countries people refer to connectivity as being the opportunity for linking everything together to form a network. Developments of this kind will have a major influence on our day-to-day life and, as a service provider, we must not shut ourselves off from them. Because we are a neutral testing organization, a large number of new tasks will undoubtedly be coming our way.

In which areas is DEKRA playing a pioneering role?
There are several areas where we are taking the lead and strengthening our position by acquiring companies and expertise. Our focus is on networking in the field of wireless communication. This includes cars, consumer goods, and the organizational and technical safety of industrial plants. The founders of DEKRA enshrined the concept of safety in the company’s Articles of Association 90 years ago and we are adapting it to meet the latest technical requirements.

One new area that DEKRA is involved in is cyber security. What is your role here?
This is all about ensuring that networked machines and components function as they are intended to. Our aim is to enable machines and components to communicate with one another correctly via secure interfaces.

Which specific activities is DEKRA already working on?
DEKRA is currently expanding its portfolio of services. For example, we are the first accredited partner anywhere in the world for the Achilles security certification from Wurldtech, a specialist computer and network security company that is part of the General Electric group. Testing is DEKRA’s business.

What changes will Industry 4.0 bring to the role of the test engineer?
Test engineers will have new tasks to perform and there will be a move towards more remote monitoring. But I think it’s risky to rely entirely on remote surveillance. There will always be products that need hands-on testing by experts working on customer sites.

In future, machines will be able to monitor themselves and even carry out small repairs. Do you think that this will put your testing business at risk?
Self-learning systems can improve efficiency to a certain extent. However, we have to ensure that they comply with safety standards. We won’t reach the stage of relying entirely on
a machine to maintain or test itself. In my view, there will not be a fall in demand for inspections carried out by independent, third-party organizations in future. On the contrary, I think the demand is more likely to increase.

DEKRA has been using testing robots for some time. Is that an area that you would like to expand?
We are increasingly using state-of-the-art testing robots for material testing and inspections, which has allowed us to open up new areas of business. On the one hand, this is about ensuring that people no longer have to carry out tests in potentially hazardous environments. On the other hand, automated inspections are sometimes quicker and more efficient, which reduces the downtimes for our customers. Our competitive advantage is that we largely develop the robots used for these specialist tasks ourselves.

What roles will robots play in future?
Robotics will become increasingly important. Industrial robots are already very widely used. Our services are needed where measures have to be implemented to prevent employees and investments from being put at risk. More and more robots are now being used in the private sphere and product testing or some sort of inspection will also be needed for these applications. There will be a lot of work for us to do.

What impact will the Internet of Things have on the international growth of your organization?
The DEKRA Industrial business unit is already the unit with the largest international presence. Around 80 percent of the unit’s employees work outside Germany. The Internet of Things will definitely lead to increased growth. We need to be located where the majority of business is being done and where our customers are moving to. As well as Europe, that includes Asia – in particular China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan – and North America.

Find out more about this topic: Industry 4.0: Everything talks

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