HomeCorporateNewsInterview Dr. Sebastian Durst - Automation and business models

"Through digitalisation, we see entirely new opportunities for developing cost structures and business models"

An interview with Dr. Sebastian Durst, Head of Industry Division Cabinet Products at Weidmüller


What are the most important developments at Weidmüller since the last HMI and how exactly have you positioned yourselves?

The whole industry is currently in the middle of an experimentation phase in terms of service and business models based on data consistency and networking. As an Industry 4.0 provider, we at Weidmüller are in a very good position, especially with our Industrial Analytics offerings, our cooperation with cloud services and our communications-enabled components. Consistent digitalisation of our products and the consistency of all data across all levels is another important area for us. The development of our new range of Klippon Connect terminal blocks, which significantly reduce planning and development times for panels, is also relevant, as data consistency is playing an increasingly important role here too.


Data consistency in panel building? Can you explain this role in a little more detail?

We see an important trend in progressive automation, for example in the assembly, installation and wiring processes in panel building. Digital data is therefore becoming increasingly important for product development. Consistently available data is a keystone of digital production from product selection, over the configuration and creation of a virtual prototype, right through to increasingly automated production and installation. With our Weidmüller Configurator software tool, terminal blocks and other Weidmüller terminal rail components can be selected, configured and ordered as required simply and intuitively. Consistent product data enables our customers to produce complete solution designs with just a few steps, and we are continuously expanding this service.


What other concrete solutions are you working on?

Predictive maintenance is one of our most specific application examples. The combination of IT knowledge and engineering expertise is what makes this interesting for our customers. We understand their application and develop a perfect-fit solution on this basis. With machine construction as the driving force, the market for this in German-speaking countries is currently developing and the market shares of the various companies involved will be established over the next few years. So we are very hopeful that we can profit from this in the long term. 


Where is the journey heading in the long term for Weidmüller and what will change for the customers through the developments?

In the long term, we want to establish ourselves as a solution provider while at the same time not neglecting our component business, as this is always part of any solution. Here we see entirely new opportunities for developing cost structures and business models. This is essential, because automation technology will not necessarily make life easier for our customers. The decision for a certain system is at the same time a long-term decision for a specific technical platform. This is why we believe initiatives supporting open platforms in this area, i.e. web-based services, are very worthwhile, as the customer can react more flexibly to new technical requirements. We take this into consideration in our developments in order to offer the customer the greatest possible flexibility.


How important is Poland for Industry 4.0?

This year, Poland is the official partner country for the Hannover Messe. The country has developed extremely well since the financial crisis and is now the number 25 global industrial nation and the sixth-largest economy in the EU. GDP has made massive leaps since the Iron Curtain fell. Poland has a very strong industrial basis which is still growing and the country is very stable in political terms unlike, for example, Ukraine. All in all, it is a very attractive economic location.