KION supports budding IT specialists

2018-11-07 – As a pioneer of digital change, KION uses every opportunity to enter into dialog with other experts. That is why KION was involved in this year’s Industry 4.0 Hackathon in Bremen – both as a sponsor and with a team of six colleagues from IT, who used their extensive expertise and considerable experience to support the Hackathon teams.

Tags of the article: #digital transformation #robotics

What happens when you put lots of hardware and software, modules, circuit boards, sensors, control units, and a load of Lego bricks in the same room as around 120 young IT enthusiasts from all over the world for 48 hours? You get the perfect environment for an unmissable atmosphere – and lots of great ideas.

This was the experience of employees from KION Group’s IT department who attended the Industry 4.0 Hackathon in Bremen. The focus of the event was on B2B applications. “KION is involved in the Hackathon in Bremen because digitalization, Industry 4.0, and the Internet of Things are key building blocks in our corporate strategy,” says Michael Schuster, Vice President Global IT Application Services in KION Group IT. The Company is setting the course for digital transformation with its KION 2027 strategy. In addition to the establishment of the KION Digital Campus and recent achievements in KION Group IT, such as the Company’s own cloud and Workplace 2.0, this also includes participation in events such as the Hackathon in Bremen. These events present new and innovative approaches, provide additional input for digitalization, and help the Company to understand what the market and the customers need, and what they are working on. Last but not least, they also allow KION to expand its network.

For two whole days and nights, the participants from a wide range of countries were immersed in the inspiring atmosphere of the Kraftwerk Accelerator, where the teams battled non-stop to get their ideas into the fast lane and win the competition. They impressively demonstrated what small teams can deliver in a very short time in the fields of cloud computing, mobile, and IoT – from the initial idea to a functioning prototype.

The limited amount of time available ensured that the participants focused on the essentials – and on pragmatic solutions – when it came to ‘really rapid prototyping’. “This concept fits perfectly with our customers’ current requirements,” explains Michael Schuster. “The market is less interested in large and complex solutions than in small but rapidly available ones.”

KION, one of the event’s sponsors, invited the teams to take part in the #LiftnShift challenge, with the task of creating a cloud-based approach to controlling a truck intuitively and from anywhere in the world – linked to sensors that increase safety and influence control. The winning team came up with a solution that communicates with the truck via Microsoft Azure Cloud and a chatbot connection. The miniature forklift truck robot, made mainly of Lego, circuit boards, and control modules, can teach itself – any potential user can use his or her own language, which is then translated into meaningful movement commands. The robot can also carry out several actions on command, such as fetching a pallet. A shock sensor integrated into the fork completes the innovative machine. It detects vibrations and reduces the truck’s speed if the fork is vibrating too much.

The KION employees were impressed not only by the results of the winning team but also by how quickly the teams came together and developed highly efficient solutions using only basic resources. Benjamin Hoffmann, Head of AS Platform & Technologies in KION Group IT, was particularly inspired by the teams’ willingness to help each other. Despite the competitive atmosphere, the teams proactively offered each other help and support with expertise and materials.

It is worth mentioning that every team with a KION employee in its midst was among the winners of the competition in Bremen – a satisfying result for all sides. “We have a much better understanding of how customers and other companies are taking up the challenge of digitalization, and we are using this input to lift KION to the next level,” says Michael Schuster, summarizing the outcome of the event. It will be exciting to see how KION translates what it has learned into new products and services. One thing is certain – there won’t be a long wait for the innovations. Just like at the Hackathon in Bremen.