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Turn raw data into useful information

Interview with Franz Gruber, Founder and Managing Director (CEO) of FORCAM GmbH

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European Business: FORCAM’s slogan is ‘We deliver results in productivity’. How do you achieve this?

Franz Gruber: At its very essence, we turn information into success. With our solutions, companies gain unique levels of transparency across their manufacturing processes, thereby enabling them to target productivity gains of more than 10% minimum in the first three months.

European Business: How is the digital transformation helping in this?

Franz Gruber: The opportunities afforded by advances in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are key to our activities. My background prior to founding FORCAM in 2001 was in SAP enterprise resource planning software. I experienced the unstoppable rise of ERP solutions in the 1990s but began to realise that there was an unfilled gap between the shop floor and the SAP ERP level. I founded FORCAM on the basis of plugging this gap with solutions that would feed production data into the management ERP software.

European Business: What were your first successes with the new venture?

Franz Gruber: It all started with MTU Aero Engines. We were tasked with integrating 300 disparate machines in order to achieve transparency across the production floor. That was in 2004. Two years later we tackled a project for Daimler Powertrain that covered 10,000 machines. We won the innovation prize from the state of Baden-Württemberg for that project. In a follow-on project for Daimler, we then helped them digitalize their entire production base, which allowed them to match Toyota in terms of productivity. We have since won significant contracts with other leading automotive manufacturers in the supply chain for Audi and BMW, helping the former to achieve a 20% rise in productivity.

European Business: Innovation is clearly a strength for FORCAM. Where does it lead next?

Franz Gruber: Without a doubt our disruptive IIoT platform solution FORCAM FORCE™ will be a game-changer in our sector. It is the first integrated IIoT platform solution for the digital transformation of the shop floor. We already laid the groundwork for this platform in 2011 with the development of a radically new cloud-based IIoT platform. FORCAM FORCE™ builds on this to generate a standardized data model for the entire company. We use Complex Event Processing Technology in our rule engine, which collects, sorts, and validates all captured data in real-time. The rule engine interprets the data and makes it available to each application as useful information. Integration is the key to success here; that is why we offer a vital partner ecosystem around our holistic platform solution that third party applications can access via an open interface.

European Business: Who is the target audience for your products and services?

Franz Gruber: We will retain our focus on the manufacturing sector and continue to help them target productivity gains with cloud-based IIoT solutions that will help them manage the digital transformation of their manufacturing processes. Our solutions have long found success in international markets so that our client list includes innovative market leaders such as Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Audi, BMW, BorgWarner, Daimler, KUKA, Pratt & Whitney, Schaeffler and Swarovski. We support our international clients through our headquarter in Ravensburg as well as our offices in Cincinnati (USA), Rugby (United Kingdom), and Shanghai (China).

European Business: Your new FORCAM FORCE™ platform solution was launched this year. What do you think the future holds?

Franz Gruber: Our plan for 2020 was to double turnover against the 2019 result. The coronavirus probably means that we will not achieve that this year. However, together with our main shareholder Dietmar Hopp, we are confident about the future post lockdown. My priority will be managing the change from a hierarchically structured company to one that, like our holistic platform, boasts a networked structure.