Guest feature | TRUMPF: Deep knowledge in a broad range of technologies is essential for innovations
In our first guest article by one of our new.New Festival partners, Dr. Peter Leibinger, Vice-Chairman of the TRUMPF Group, responsible for research and development, talks about innovation and sustainable technology development:
General trends of digitalization like Industry 4.0 or additive manufacturing disrupt the status quo in industrial manufacturing. Products, processes, techniques and business models might have to be changed fundamentally. When it comes to innovation for our industry, three definitions come to my mind. First is an obvious definition, by Schumpeter, that innovation is a new technical solution that successfully establishes itself in the marketplace. Secondly, innovation is any substantial technological novelty or new combination of existing technologies that are the basis for progress regarding the major requirements that a product has to fulfill. In the laser industry this would be for example productivity, usability or reliability. Thirdly, innovation brings a benefit that the customer actually experiences as a benefit. This can be a small progress on the technological aspect, however, small differences in products can yield dramatic differences in the customer experience
The basic principle we have at TRUMPF for a successful and sustainable technology development is: Deep knowledge across a broad range of technologies. This is absolutely essential. Through this we are able to judge, actively pursue and monitor competing technologies. This concerns both sheet metal forming and industrial laser technology. Along the sheet metal process chain we provide all relevant technologies – punching, bending, cutting and welding. The same is true for laser technology. With disk, gas and diode lasers, we have the power of choice and we find the best solution for any application. An important precondition to technological leadership in our field is also a selective vertical integration along the technological value chain. This means that we pursue all key technologies simultaneously. That’s why we can optimize the entire laser system and the individual subsystems. This results in decisive benefits for our customers, and at the same time protects our knowhow and our unique competitive advantage.
Our goal is to jump on technology trends at an early stage – even by means of strategic partnerships. Therefore we are willing to take risks combined with our broad technological competence and perseverance. Perseverance is a must. Major technological breakthroughs take many years, sometimes decades, to be realized. Perseverance is necessary in order to be able to deal with this problem. Also important is a systematic scouting of technologies and road mapping of technologies that are needed in the future. That is why we are looking for collaborations with universities, non-university research organizations and as well start-ups. And that is why we are a partner to the CODE_n platform. We want to exchange ideas with other companies and start-ups working with the vision of Photonics 4.0, and work together to provide new momentum to photonics in the future.
Although we are an innovation leader in the markets we serve, it is our goal to extend this lead in the next few years. We also want to use the unique technological breadth that TRUMPF possesses to find new applications and to thereby access new markets. Within our R&D departments it is my goal to establish a consistent lean and agile research and development process.