Mr. Lange, how important is digitalization for Roto FTT?
Incredibly important. Digital solutions are fundamental for Roto FTT in order to enjoy success on the market and remain competitive in the long term. Our motto is: digitalization needs to include everyone and everything. That is why we consistently promote networked solutions within the company, but also with regard to customers and suppliers. The only way to ensure that a digital transformation will be successful is to include everyone in the process. Tradespeople and retailers have come leaps and bounds in the past few years – both with regard to the products offered and their services and business models. Activities and processes are increasingly automated and response times are becoming shorter. That offers many benefits, but also presents us with new challenges every once in a while. Digitalization makes us more efficient and enables us to react to new market requirements more quickly. That is the only way to provide optimum support for our customers and act in a future-proof manner.
In which areas is Roto FTT already relying on digital technologies and Industry 4.0?
Digital technologies can be found virtually everywhere at Roto. In our production, for example, we are working with a manufacturing execution system, or MES for short, which allows us to track live production control data in real time. Collaborative robots also support our employees in this area. In our Logistics department, driverless transport systems are moving goods from A to B. And we must not forget 3D printing, which we have used to manufacture parts since 2021. We are also discussing the use of autonomous drones to monitor stocks and the flow of goods. Using artificial intelligence is another step in the digitalization process: it will support us with online machine diagnostics and by predicting potential failures in future. So-called predictive maintenance allows us to ensure that maintenance and repair work is performed at the right time and with the right resources, which in turn drastically reduces downtimes.
Are these digital solutions already used as standard at all sites?
Yes and no. We need to put these technologies through their paces first to see whether they prove themselves in ongoing operation. We are testing new technologies as part of pilot projects at nearly all our sites. Once they have passed this trial by fire, they will be expanded to the other sites as well. Most recently, our Lövö plant successfully tested the use of collaborative robots in automatic packaging units – now they are a permanent feature in normal operation. The next step will see them being joined by driverless transport systems. And Lövö is also already testing the online machine diagnostics I already mentioned.
What are the benefits of digitalization for Roto FTT as well as partners and customers?
When processes are automated it mainly saves time, meaning we can work even faster and more effectively. All the digital solutions that Roto is already using or is planning to use are contributing to our value structure of acting with maximum reliability in the interest of optimum product quality and delivery performance. Predictive maintenance prevents production errors and machine failures, for example, so that we can ensure a constant supply of flawless products to our customers. 3D printing allows us to take individual customer requests into account and to manufacture products during the night. This significantly reduces the time to market – that is the time between an idea first being conceived and it being actually implemented. And because we can produce orders ad hoc, we are saving additional storage costs. Driverless transport systems avoid buffer spaces and reduce the throughput times. As a result, customers are receiving their products significantly faster. In conclusion, we can say that all these digital technologies are contributing to faster, safer and more efficient processes that benefit our partners and customers.
What are the aims that Roto FTT is pursuing with digitalization?
Digitalization is a never-ending process because the market and customer requirements are continually evolving. And of course there is always room for improvement. We also want to streamline our processes even further in order to work faster and in a more focussed manner. That is why the systematic search for digital solutions is an integral part of our work. We don't just want to meet our customers expectations, but exceed them and generate real added value – that is our primary aim. And to achieve it, we need a modern and comfortable working environment in which our employees can realise their full potential and contribute new ideas. Digital technologies reduce the amount of additional manual effort required, lower the number of static processes and, as a result, create exactly the freedom we need for that. At the end of the day, that leaves more time for the things only a person can do: thinking outside the box, being creative and developing new solutions.