What does a typical day look like for you as head of research and development?
What do I do all day long? My job does, of course, involve the normal organisational tasks of a head of department. Apart from that, I focus on FLT’s product portfolio and develop and refine it for the years to come. It involves addressing questions like: what new product developments can we offer? What kind of processes can we create? What is our vision for the next five to ten years? Where do we want to head in the market? On top of this, we also deal with customer-specific developments. In this case, the customer comes to us with a specific task and we need to find a solution. As automation engineers, this obviously comes naturally to us.
Why did you decide to study mechanical engineering?
I have been interested in engineering since I was a child. It started with building Lego, then I discovered Lego engineering, and then electric toys. I always enjoyed disassembling things, taking them apart and seeing how they were built and what else you could do with them. I then reached the next crucial crossroads and had to decide what fascinated me the most: electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or something in-between. I decided on mechanical engineering as it means that I can work with my hands but also follow the programming in the background.
What is so special about automation technology for you?
Because I love technology, I tried to find an intersection between electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and process control. It turns out that this was automation technology. Here, you can bring products to life and see how something is moved, how something is transported and how processes are executed. I always find it fascinating.
What does FLT offer?
One example is a modular gantry system which you can use to assemble your handling solution in line with your own requirements. We also offer automation solutions and process control. We bring the gantry to life and let it carry out tasks and processes. This is what defines FLT, establishing the link between gantry technology and robot technology. We produce systems which can provide the best bits from the worlds of robotics and gantry technology.
What opportunities do you see as a result of being part of the LÄPPLE Group?
Being part of the LÄPPLE Group brings a multitude of opportunities as every company contributes its own expertise. For FIBRO, it’s the standard parts. The guides, rams and Industry 4.0 components. LÄPPLE Automotive knows how to operate these kinds of systems, and then there’s us – as automation experts, we know which parts need to be produced and how to produce them so that the system works as a whole. We know the processes, know how a certain part is manufactured and are able to provide the corresponding technical solution.
What’s in store for the future?
We are heading towards virtualisation and the concept of the digital factory. We are already pioneers in this area. We are already able to create a digital twin in the virtual world and can show the customer how the system will look, which cycle times can be achieved and what level of quality the products will exhibit. This means that we can safeguard the entire process in advance and know whether everything will work and whether everything will be controlled smoothly. We can therefore give the customer suggestions for improvement as they enter the virtual world. Industry 4.0 is the future and we are gearing ourselves towards it.