Driving digitalization in a traditional manufacturing company – for Frank Sroka, it’s a full-time job. He’s in charge of Industry 4.0 for OSRAM operations. OSRAM’s history stretches back more than a century. A professional toolmaker and mechanical engineer, Sroka began his career at the lighting manufacturing company in 2004. Since 2014, he has devoted all his time and energy to the topics of digitalization and connectivity.
“Industry 4.0 is a key issue for OSRAM. There are many ways to approach it: new products, new services,” he says. As a Project Manager, he has already helped the company launch a host of innovations.
Ticket Manager: The key to communication
One such innovation was the Ticket Manager for manufacturing operations, a project realized in collaboration with Bosch Software Innovations. The main question was “How can we make manufacturing productive, flexible, and modular?” Answer: connect the more than 80 machines at OSRAM’s Berlin location. Employees were granted access to the Ticket Manager to carry out their work.
The tool is now at the center of all communication in production. An app on employees’ mobile devices gives them their work assignments and keeps them constantly up to date on the status of their machines. As a result, the skilled workers can carry out their tasks faster , more efficiently, and with greater precision. “Our communication in manufacturing is now better and more mobile,” says Sroka.
Connected Manufacturing changes organizational structures and workflows
At the same time, the Ticket Manager helps the company rethink structures and workflows in its Berlin plant , which has raised many questions. For instance, about the organizational structure: going forward, which will carry more weight – instructions from the shift manager or from the Ticket Manager? This and similar questions are why Sroka calls the Ticket Manager a “truly disruptive innovation.” There is still no clear answer; in the connected world, ways of working evolve gradually. But for OSRAM, too, one thing is clear: the focus always needs to be on people.
OSRAM is no stranger to change, as Sroka is well aware: “In our more than 100 years, we have launched and implemented a large number of change processes.” This is certainly true of many other established companies that can look back at a long history of manufacturing tradition.
Partnerships are essential for successful connectivity
OSRAM is not taking this step alone; it is also relying on collaborations with partners. “We have developed a strategy to work with partners on developing tools where currently none exist,” Sroka explains. “We want to tackle these issues together. Industry 4.0, digitalization, and connectivity offer excellent opportunities for doing so.”
Broadly speaking, digitalization affects every company, regardless of what market they are in. “To a certain extent, we are all working on the same issues,” says Sroka. “Here, teamwork with a partner like Bosch Software Innovations is a very valuable tool that enables us to achieve results faster and more effectively.”
Trust is a core element of any collaboration
Innovative projects like the Ticket Manager place particular demands on collaboration among partners . As Sroka puts it, “This is entirely different from straightforward contract work.” Regarding the Ticket Manager, the goal was always very clear – how to achieve it, less so. “Trust and close collaboration played vital roles here,” Sroka says. For OSRAM, it was important to find a long-term partner for working on the Ticket Manager.
Besides mutual trust, Sroka emphasized the importance of keeping the other partner’s concerns in mind. “We didn’t want just an IT specialist who would focus only on the IT aspect. Our partner should also be familiar with the issues particular to manufacturing and apply that knowledge in the project.”
What’s next for OSRAM?
OSRAM’s next step is to roll out the Ticket Manager to other plants. “We see that, when our employees use the Ticket Manager, they come up with their own, completely new ideas that we hadn’t even thought of at the outset. That shows the power of this tool.”
Of course, other Industry 4.0 projects are already in progress. “We have a large, global team tackling these issues,” Sroka says. Pilot applications are currently being tested at various locations. “We want to find out what potential the new ideas offer, how viable they are, and if they will be accepted.”
More information about digitalization in manufacturing
Read more details about the OSRAM Ticket Manager.
How established companies can start their own digital transformation: Read the blog post here.
A look at the status quo: Where does Industry 4.0 stand?
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