‘Shaping digital change to suit our requirements’
In the interview with Felix Kunz, member of the steering committee of the SATW Advanced Manufacturing Research Alliance, the reasons are discussed why it is useful to further expand into the field of Industry 4.0.
The SATW Advanced Manufacturing Research Alliance is to be further expanded into the fields of digitisation and Industry 4.0. Do you consider this a useful measure?
Digitisation now covers virtually all areas of life. As a result, the impact of information and communication technology (ICT) will continue to substantially increase.
The huge wave of digitisation is rolling across the globe and covering every sector, from finance to producer SMEs. This gives us major opportunities but also serious challenges. Companies need to rethink their business models and make their products and services networkable if they are to claim their place in the digitised ecosystem of the future.
We cannot halt this trend, but we can actively support digital change and shape it to suit our requirements – to the benefit of economy and society.
Research of course has its part to play to ensure that Switzerland is able to keep pace with key digital technologies such as machine learning, 5G communications, cybersecurity or augmented reality.
What to you consider to be the opportunities and risks of Industry 4.0 for Switzerland as a business location?
As part of Industry 4.0, ICT is increasingly becoming a key sector for economic and social prosperity. For example, we in Switzerland are global leaders for building LoRa low power wide area networks which among other things enable traffic management or waste disposal in cities to be optimised.
Digitisation offers virtually limitless opportunities for new business ideas. Digital opportunities mean that even small, young companies can implement and market their disruptive ideas more quickly than ever before. This is a situation which can benefit us, but there is also a danger of established companies losing their existing business models. This means that key traditional industries such as medical and precision technology also need to tackle digital development and incorporate it into their products.
Last but not least, Industry 4.0 offers an opportunity to make Switzerland a more flexible and competitive business location. Innovative products are being not only developed but also produced here in Switzerland. Novel, networked production and logistics concepts combined with interdisciplinary training are ensuring the future sustainability of Swiss production.
The Swiss Smart Factory was officially opened last May. Who and what is behind this development? What is its vision and what are the short-term and long-term expectations?
The Swiss Smart Factory is the first Industry 4.0 show factory in Switzerland. It is an open platform inviting industry and research to participate. Our common goal is to actively shape digital change to the benefit of the Swiss economy. We offer a neutral platform for pre-competitive research, development and standardisation, needed by Swiss firms as part of industry 4.0. Together we are researching production technologies which are setting the standard for future production. Developments and research experience gained then only have a short path to travel from laboratory to business practice.
About Felix Kunz
Felix Kunz is an electrical engineer and entrepreneur. The current CEO and member of the board of Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne AG (SIP BB) gained his experience from more than 12 start-ups across the globe and spent 18 years as CEO and president of the board at Digital-Logic AG. He also has experience in the development, production and marketing of embedded computer boards, and deployed production technology in SMT and clean room bonding. Felix Kunz serves as a foundation board member for the De Vigier Entrepreneur Award, ENTER Museum and the STI. He also holds roles with KTI-WTT Support (as head innovation mentor), ENTER Museum, HFTM AG and Quickline AG (as president of the board). In addition, he is CEO of Sokutec GmbH in Solothurn.
Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne AG
Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne (SIP BB) provides a platform for applied research and development in industrial technology. As a joint venture between private firms and public institutions, Park Biel/Bienne offers space, technology and services for innovation teams and companies.
Swiss Smart Factory (SSF)
The Swiss Smart Factory at Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne is the first Industry 4.0 show factory in Switzerland. The SSF develops, tests and demonstrates innovative applications and business models for digitised ‘factories of the future’. The main focus is on innovations which help to maintain and develop Switzerland’s industrial competitiveness.