"Our Purpose? We protect people, facilities, and the environment!"

Interview with Jörg de la Motte, CEO of HIMA Group

HIMA Paul Hildebrandt GmbH Shareholders and Managing Directors
The shareholders and managing directors of HIMA and the recently acquired Origo Solutions. The guiding principle: "We integrate the company forever!"

With its Smart Safety solutions for process and rail technology, the HIMA Group has been supporting its customers in critical, safety-relevant applications for many decades. Jörg de la Motte explained in an interview with Wirtschaftsforum which additional benefits have become possible in the course of digitalization and why the grown family business is led by an external management.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. de la Motte, for many decades the HIMA Group has stood for 'Smart Safety'. Where exactly do you ensure safety?

Jörg de la Motte: Safety is certainly the immutable core of our DNA, and our products, solutions, and services are fundamentally designed to ensure functional safety in critical processes. In this regard, we are primarily engaged in process engineering and rail technology, where we are available to our customers with over 20 national companies in most of the relevant markets in Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, and in Asia and the Pacific region – we will open a new office in India this year.

Wirtschaftsforum: How does HIMA stand out from other market participants?

Jörg de la Motte, CEO HIMA Group
Jörg de la Motte, CEO HIMA Group

Jörg de la Motte: With our exclusive focus on safety-relevant automation, we can convince not only through particularly profound expertise in this field but also through a comprehensive and open safe automation platform with the corresponding production capacities as well as our own programming software and comprehensive supplementary services.

Most of our competitors are significantly larger, globally operating corporations that, however, operate only a relatively small division in automation technology as generalists compared to the range of services provided by HIMA. This particularly strong thematic focus of our company consequently also requires a great openness of our systems towards the holistic automation environment at our customers' sites, in whose context our solutions are embedded.

Wirtschaftsforum: What role does digitalization play in this?

Jörg de la Motte: With our "Safety Goes Digital" campaign, we underline many aspects in which digitalization provides an important added value for our customers in terms of functional safety throughout the entire lifecycle of the respective plants. This becomes particularly clear in the context of the high regulatory documentation requirements, which represent a considerable effort for our customers in the way of Enduring Compliance.

Thanks to digital solutions, individual inspections no longer need to be laboriously recorded and archived on paper. Instead, during an audit, it is now possible to prove complete compliance at the touch of a button – this is a big and important step towards leaner processes.

Participants at the International Sales Meeting of the HIMA Group in Manchester 2024
Participants at the International Sales Meeting of the HIMA Group in Manchester 2024

Wirtschaftsforum: What influence does digitalization have on your solutions and systems themselves?

Jörg de la Motte: The development effort for our own programming environment SILworX has certainly increased significantly in recent years, in order to effectively represent the diverse opportunities that arise from digital excellence now, and to provide new functionalities more quickly. An important application area is, for example, automated repetitive testing, where a test can be initiated and, above all, documented automatically via the safety control, without having to physically take measurements on the device in the field. At the same time, it is now possible for us to use the data collected by our systems much more effectively – thus, a plant operator can now easily see in his cockpit whether there are backlogs in the area of recurring inspections and can then easily compensate for these.

In addition, there are numerous case-specific application areas into which we can incorporate our digital expertise. For example, an automatic speed restriction in tram traffic is now mandatory in Great Britain – here, we were able to successfully implement a corresponding system in Manchester.

Participants at the HIMA User Conference at the HIMA Customer Solutions Center in Brühl (Baden)
Participants at the HIMA User Conference at the HIMA Customer Solutions Center in Brühl (Baden)
Employees of the Branch in China
The employees of the branch in China recently organized a sustainable event

Wirtschaftsforum: In the history of HIMA, which spans over 100 years, a management team whose members do not come from the owning family was appointed for the first time in 2021 - a caesura?

Jörg de la Motte: That was a very conscious decision by the shareholders at the time to make HIMA Group ready for the next level of its development, including the ability to acquire and integrate companies. What has remained unchanged is our purpose and our attitude: We protect people, installations, and the environment with our solutions. Ecological sustainability has always been very present in our company, even though such approaches might have been pursued even more intensely in recent years.

For example, employees of our Chinese branch recently organized a sustainable event as part of a donation campaign for the conservation of local wetlands – such commitment is now specifically supported by us!