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We are the network of future technologies

The importance of technology for HARTING
Andreas Huhmann
Andreas Huhmann
Strategy Consultant Connectivity & Networks, HARTING Stiftung & Co. KG
The importance of technology for HARTING

"We want to shape the future with technologies for people"
The vision of shaping the future with technologies is based on this and goes far beyond it. Our thinking cannot stop at improving or further developing individual components. For us, it rather means using new technologies to master the great challenges of mankind. And this always within the framework of our existing and new competences - even if, for example, as a connector specialist, viewed individually, they only make a small contribution to the future. In the overall system they can be key components, as in the case of e-mobility. The creation or improvement of the overall solution with new technologies and for new technologies is therefore always in the focus of individual components.

In order to ensure that HARTING products continue to support our customers' solutions in the future, we do not just focus on analysing today's market when designing our portfolio strategy. In this sense, we start much earlier: with the future. 

To do this, we analyse the major game changers and megatrends which are changing society. Prominent examples are digitalisation, sustainability or urbanisation. This step is still relatively universal and can easily be taken in cooperation with research institutes, associations or the German Academy of Science and Engineering.

Volkswagen E-Mobility

The next step is to derive technology trends for relevant markets, including future markets. Here, electric mobility immediately comes to mind. Another good example is the technology trend of using DC grids in industry as a derivative of the megatrend sustainability. Finally, we then evaluate these technology trends in terms of how markets and products are changing in order to develop the right products for tomorrow today.

Changes in the market

The change in the markets can be divided into two parts: One aspect is the change in connectivity requirements in an existing market. Let's take as an example the increasing requirements for higher data transmission, for example in the railway market for jumper cables between wagons. The other aspect: Where are new markets for connectivity emerging? Here it is also worth looking beyond the horizon. For example, the increasing demands for efficiency, but also the possibility of electronics, are leading to the electrification of attachments and tractors in agriculture - this requires new connectivity.


Change of products

On the product side, the effects can also be divided into two parts. On the one hand, completely new functionalities can be realised through new technologies, e.g. the integration of ID modules or of electronics in connectors, but also optimisations of existing product features can be carried out.

These changes do not always have to be as great as the often described changes in business models due to digitalisation. In some cases, small but decisive modifications - which seem almost random - lead to major improvements for the overall solution. HARTING, for example, launched a plastic connector on the market ten years ago in the form of Han-Eco®. At first glance perhaps only a small step - from a metal housing to a plastic housing. And from the aspect of the evolutionary further development of existing applications, this step would also be impossible to describe. However, with new applications triggered by digitalisation, this step can be meaningfully classified. This is because the Han-Eco® is ideally suited for use in data centres, which in turn have different requirements than an industrial machine. It enables the efficient expansion of data centres and the associated increase in computing and storage capacity for the numerous digitisation and cloud applications. 

In the course of Industry 4.0, new production facilities are being created...

Another example that has derived the connectivity components from the future is "ProductionLevel4". In the course of Industry 4.0, new production facilities are being created, which are modular in design and whose modules contain many autonomous functions in order to offer a production service. The interface to the infrastructure is a detachable connection in the form of a connector, which is absolutely necessary for the high flexibility and universal use of modules. In the SmartFactoryKL the requirements for this connector were derived during the construction of the "ProductionLevel4" demonstrator. The implementation of these requirements, which are significantly different from those of classical mechanical engineering, consequently leads to something that differs significantly from conventional industrial connectors and would not have been possible simply by further developing something existing. The new connector has a management shell and communicates permanently with higher-level systems. The connector actively prevents disconnection at the wrong time. It thus becomes an intelligent actuator in the infrastructure that assists the worker. 

All these examples show that it makes sense to think outside the box. Or even better: to leave the plate and then look from a bird's eye view towards connectivity. In this way you can see it from a new perspective that leads to something really new. Technologies have a double meaning here. From the connectivity point of view, new technologies are usually only possible with new technology. We use technology to generate solutions for markets that have been changed or are emerging through technology. We see ourselves as the network of future technologies. 

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