Aachen, 4th April 2022
ProCom Automation – the technology company for CNC and CAM controls for the cutting and separating industry – continues to expand its in-house expertise and has now become a Microsoft Gold Partner through the successful certification of its own employees as Modern Desktop Administrators. This certification is reserved for only a few IT experts and guarantees customers and partners a high level of IT know-how regarding Microsoft 365 applications. The goal is to sustainably optimise the dynamic working world internally as well as in cooperation with customers.
Only 1 percent – An objective seal of approval for the highest proof of competence
The certification is in great demand worldwide. This is proven by the fact that only one percent of all Microsoft partners receive it. Processes and procedures on the internal and external side are to be optimised with a total of four Modern Desktop Adminstators. Our experts gained a profound understanding of working with Microsoft 365 during their preparation and can apply their newly acquired knowledge of modern system provisioning, user and role management, system and data recovery, compliance, Windows Defender, and mobile application management directly in practice.
Cloud-based services for greater internal and external efficiency
Consequently, the company now relies on cloud-based services such as the SharePoint platform to exchange data. Customers also benefit from this as each customer gets its own area in the cloud. This makes the exchange of data more convenient, faster and cloud-based. This significantly minimises the time required for data transfer on both sides.
Internal communication has also been shifted to Microsoft teams, improving the flow of information, and making processes faster, more routine, and more efficient. Daily e-mail traffic has been reduced by almost 70 per cent!
“Anyone who delivers high-quality
products also needs high-quality tools and application expertise.”
Sebastian Scheufen, Head of IT at ProCom Automation
The Aachen-based company proves that it meets the highest level of generally applicable Microsoft working standards with this certification. “Anyone who delivers high-quality products also needs high-quality tools and application expertise“ says Sebastian Scheufen, Head of IT at ProCom Automation.
Cutting-edge technologies and products
Bernd Göttgens, Managing Director of the company, is also pleased about the award: “This new type of digital collaboration is still in its infancy in many successful and traditional companies. However, the professional, expert handling, set-up and operation of the IT infrastructure is essential. It proves to be an internal efficiency booster in daily work and is very future-oriented. The fact that we are one of the few companies to have accepted the challenge of implementing this way of working already shows that we have the courage to always deal with the latest technologies – and that we have the competence to use them profitably for ourselves and our customers!”
Promising synergies arise above all in the area of IoT products from ProCom Automation. For example, the cloud-based IoT solution “Clouver“ for production data visualisation can be further expanded and optimised thanks to the newly acquired knowledge – first ideas have already been developed.
Aachen, 01/10/2021 – The automation division of ProCom is now an independent company: With the entry in the Aachen commercial register on September 24th, 2021, the company now operates as ProCom Automation GmbH and documents its core competence both in the name and in the new, slightly modified logo: where there used to be a slogan, the company logo now features the words “Automation”. The noble, anthracite-colored capitals form the foundation of the logo and convey stability and reliability. The subtle modification is systematic: ProCom has a name in the world of the cutting industry – the similarity of the new branding to the previous one thus documents continuity in terms of product quality and service that customers have been accustomed to for decades.
There is continuity in other respects as well: the previous, long-standing Automation Division Manager, Bernd Göttgens, has been appointed as the new Managing Director. The experienced contact persons for customers will also remain and support the company with their well-known expert knowledge in sales and consulting.
Will everything remain as it is? Managing Director Göttgens says: “We are building on the old values and will remain true to our business, i.e. we will continue to offer hardware and software solutions for the cutting industry. Nevertheless, our customers can look forward to continuous innovations in the future, because we have invested in personnel and built up know-how in recent years. This is now paying off. Our independence therefore comes at just the right time: We are launching into a promising future with great vigor.”
Read more about ProCom Automation’s positioning and plans in the following interview.
Bernd Göttgens, Managing Director of ProCom Automation GmbH, reports on what the independence of ProCom Automation means and what plans the company has for the near future.
Mr. Göttgens, you once said “Proven things form the secure basis of ProCom Automation”. What did you mean by that?
Well, essentially it means that we remain true to our values, structures and brands. We continue to offer the expertise for which we are known. All employees of the Automation division will transfer to ProCom Automation GmbH and all knowledge will remain in the company. Thus, we start with a strong team of 30 people, some of whom have known each other for many years and work together in perfect harmony.
The hierarchies are flat – agile working, joint decision-making and mutual support have long been common practices in our company. This way of working has proven itself for years and we are sticking to it, which does not mean that we will stand still…
…it sounds like things are on the move in your company. What will change?
Digitalization and globalization are just two of very many topics that we have increasingly been preparing for in recent years. We come across new technologies almost every day, products are being developed at breakneck speed, and processes are becoming more agile and flexible. In recent months, we have already filled a number of new positions and are now strategically positioned to meet these market challenges with concentrated expertise. With this secure basis, nothing stands in the way of new, forward-looking innovations – and puts our customers on the road to success.
Will the focus remain on the cutting industry or do you have further plans?
We will continue to focus on the cutting industry. That’s where our expertise comes into its own best. Whether it’s knife, laser, waterjet or plasma cutting – cutting processes are where all our skills lie. And this is where our products convince cutting machine operators every day with outstanding cutting quality and higher productivity. This know-how was also the basis for our more recent innovations such as Cutting During Bitefeed (CDB), an additional function for even greater profitability.
You mentioned plans for expansion – where do you see your most important markets, where do you want to expand?
Most of our customers are in Europe and Asia, with Asia accounting for more than 50 percent of our sales. We continue to see attractive growth opportunities in these regions. Of course, we don’t turn down customers from other continents either (laughs). On the contrary, we are happy to reach out to other regions of the world, to make our brands visible globally and to take advantage of new opportunities.
What technical trends are you observing in your business and what can your customers look forward to in the near future?
With our latest product, the IoT production monitoring platform Clouver, we have responded to the trend of digitalization. With it, we are helping many machine manufacturers and machine operators to implement the topic of IoT in practice. All existing machines in a machine park can be integrated into the Clouver platform within minutes using our Clouver SmartKit. This works across manufacturers and it doesn’t matter whether the machine is old or new. Thus, the complete process chain becomes transparent and production data is provided in real-time. Also worth mentioning is our touch terminal solution, which eliminates the need for manual paper slips. As a result, not only production but also logistics can be made much more efficient. As far as the next few years are concerned, I expect to see a further expansion of the digital portfolio. Cloud solutions for networking will no longer be “add-ons”, but an integral part of a control system and thus state of the art for machines. To drive innovation in this area, we are investing a large part of our profit in development and in the further training of our employees.
Speaking of profit: How is ProCom Automation positioned financially?
At an optimum. We are well-positioned and are starting out on our own with a solid equity ratio and secure liquidity. The order books for the coming months are already well filled. We can therefore definitely speak of a successful business year for 2021 in our over 40-year success story.
Moving away from paper-based dockets and towards digital solutions for production planning and process optimization: Clouver SmartKits by ProCom Automation now ensure that at the Vita Group site in Maastricht the production data of all cutting machines are digitally recorded and evaluated.
Paper dockets: plenty of work and time for little benefit
The Vita Group is one of Europe’s leading suppliers when it comes to flexible polyurethane foam, latex, and flooring products. In Maastricht in the Netherlands, the company is one of only two in the world to manufacture Talalay latex. This special latex provides not only more breathability and elasticity but is also antibacterial. The production area used to foam the latex is highly digitalized. However, this is not the case for the area where the latex blocks are cut, glued, and packaged. Until recently, employees recorded production data manually on paper based dockets. These were then manually transferred to Excel spreadsheets. This took a lot of time, roughly 30 minutes per machine operator per shift, which was more than 1,000 working hours per year. In addition, the data in the Excel tables was analyzed inadequately. The findings were not very robust and left considerable room for interpretation. To achieve sustainable improvements in the production process, however, it is an important prerequisite to systematically record and analyze the production data.
Collecting data digitally: for quick access anywhere
The person responsible for process optimization in this Vita business area is Adam Gittins. “We can only make production processes better, more efficient and safer if we reliably measure and evaluate how good we are at cutting,” says the Operational Excellence Manager. Maastricht’s challenge: The contour cutting machines are equipped with a CNC control system made by ProCom with an integrated interface to Clouver, enabling the machines to send their production data directly to the Clouver production monitoring platform. This is not the case with the two vertical and horizontal cutting machines which are 25 years old. What could be done to digitally record the data from all cutting machines? In search of a solution, Adam Gittins got in touch with ProCom Automation.
Small Clouver SmartKits, big impact for everyone
As experts in control and IoT solutions for the cutting industry, ProCom has the right solution at hand: SmartKits as a supplement to the Clouver IoT platform. At the heart lies the Clouver GateWay with smart software, which implements digital data acquisition via interfaces for current and voltage measurement with galvanically isolated sensors. With the “little black box”, the connection to the Clouver Cloud can be established easily and quickly.
In spring 2021, the SmartKits in Clouver’s basic version were installed at the Vita site in Maastricht. The operating states of the cutting machines are now read out, evaluated, and displayed graphically. Clouver enables access to the digital image of the production at any time for the production supervisors and the management at Vita’s headquarters in Manchester, UK.
Easily IoT-ready instead of a costly retrofit
Without the Clouver SmartKits, digital data acquisition would not be an option for the two old machines in Maastricht. Preparing them for IoT would have required a major retrofit with manual intervention in the hardware and a high financial investment. The SmartKits, in conjunction with the cloud solution, are an easy-to-install and cost-effective way to integrate sensor technology even in old cutting machines and to digitally map production. In addition, there is no need to replace any hardware. This not only minimizes investment costs, but also avoids the risk of unstable production and prolonged machine downtime.
If a machine switches to standby or off mode, the touch display (which can be configured individually) asks for the reason for the standstill. The machine operator only needs to select on one of the listed reasons. “Child’s play and user-friendly!” says Adam Gittins. “All Vita Group employees benefit immensely from this. For the machine operators, this provides more freedom and additional time that they can use to focus on other tasks that optimize production.”
Following the digital path
„This is our first step towards digitalization. But there is still a lot to do, in Maastricht and in other Vita plants,” says Operational Excellence Manager Gittins. In addition to a Vita plant in France, where Clouver was installed via OPC-UA on one brand-new and three older cutting machines, and the site in Maastricht, Gittins is considering the mattress factories in Poland next. The mattress products manufactured there are so similar that it is very easy to compare the productivity of the three sites. The teams stand to benefit from shared learning and regular exchanges, thanks to information from Clouver. Gittins: “If everything works out as expected, we’ll see a lot of potential for Clouver and the SmartKits in a number of other Vita plants, especially in plants where mattresses are produced.” At any rate, the initial results are encouraging.
About ProCom Automation | https://procom-automation.de/en
ProCom Automation is a specialist for automation solutions in the cutting and separating industry. For more than 35 years, the experts at ProCom have been developing high-tech control solutions featuring CNC and CAM software as well as high-quality hardware adapted to the drive technology of renowned manufacturers.
Machine builders all over the world benefit from the cutting-edge automation solutions for a wide range of cutting processes such as knife, laser, waterjet, plasma, and foam contour cutting. With product development focused on market and customer needs, ProCom Automation delivers unique features with significant added value to provide customers with a key competitive advantage for their success.
Clouver, the IoT production monitoring platform, connects heterogeneous machine parks and brings transparency to production processes. With the targeted data evaluation of Clouver, unused potentials become visible, and productivity is optimized sustainably.
The company with its headquarters in Aachen is well established in the European and Chinese markets and continuously invests in the ongoing development and expansion of its product portfolio as well as in future-oriented technologies for maximum efficiency and flexibility.
Following the announcement of the takeover of the energy division of ProCom GmbH (ProCom) by the investor Volue ASA, the separation of the two company divisions “Energy” and “Automation” is mandatory. ProCom’s automation division will operate as an independent company in future, with its market positioning as an expert for control and IoT solutions being sharpened significantly. Consequently, the company returns to its core business of more than 40 years of company history.
Volue ASA (Olso, Norway) announced the acquisition of ProCom Energy on July 7. The automation division is to be continued as an independent company under the name ProCom Automation. Preparations for this event are in full swing, as of September, both divisions are expected to run their businesses independently. “We are looking forward to establishing ProCom Automation. This will take us back to the roots of our long-standing corporate history, which began with the development of control software for the cutting industry. We are nevertheless looking to the future: we will use this opportunity to drive the ongoing development of our products and solutions in the field of CNC control software and Industry 4.0 in a more targeted manner,” Dr. Max Scheidt, Managing Director of ProCom, announced.
With its strategy geared towards growth, the company intends to respond quickly and flexibly to new future trends and developments such as digitalization in production and to expand its position as a specialist for the cutting industry.
Bernd Göttgens, Division Manager Automation of ProCom: “We are expecting the formation of the new company in September. This will be an exciting and eventful time for ProCom Automation, which the entire team is eagerly anticipating. We are looking forward to the developments of the coming weeks, months and years!”
About ProCom Automation | https://procom-automation.de/en
ProCom Automation is a specialist in CNC and CAM software and hardware for a wide variety of cutting technologies such as knife, laser, water jet, plasma and foam contour cutting.
“Clouver”, the intelligent production monitoring platform, connects heterogeneous machine parks. The targeted data evaluation of the production processes makes unused potentials visible and leads to higher productivity.
The company has established itself with its products in the European and Chinese markets and continuously invests further development and expansion of its product portfolio as well as in future-oriented technologies in the field of IoT and Industry 4.0 for maximum transparency and flexibility.
On October 1st, 2020, the experts for Digital Transformation, PLM and Smart Factory of the allvisual gmbh from Schwetzingen and the Industry 4.0 team of ProCom have joined forces. allvisual drives the digital transformation with its customers by providing strategy & consulting services around the digital product and is an expert for the conception and implementation of modern solutions for intralogistics, production and maintenance with a focus on the employee 4.0.
In order to increase transparency and efficiency in production, it is a great challenge for many manufacturing companies to find a suitable system that can process the multitude of providers and protocols from the shop floor level and prepare them for the MES above. At this point, the ProCom IoT platform Clouver provides a universal interface for all higher-level systems, including the SAP ME and SAP MII systems used by allvisual. The IoT platform is able to collect all production data from machines, devices and sensors. These are integrated into the respective SAP systems and processed there. If desired, Clouver’s own user interface with individual dashboards and analyses of the production data can also be used and, in turn, integrated with SAP through allvisual implementations. SAP users, but also companies that rely on MES systems from other providers, receive a lean IoT solution with a manageable investment and prompt productivity increase. allvisual and ProCom always align their joint optimization solution with the individual tasks and ROI goals of the customer, so that the customer can quickly and directly benefit from the advantages of Industry 4.0.
Learn more about our partner allvisual here.
Learn more about Clouver here.
At this time, many companies are in the process of reorientation and planning for the future. They see the crisis as an opportunity to advance digitization (VDMA, 2020) and to use new business models, e.g. based on the IoT, to get out of the crisis unscathed (Microsoft, 2020). However, they often have to maintain liquidity and save costs at the same time.
The SmartKit is an addition to ProCom’s Industry 4.0 platform “Clouver”, which enables a quick return on investment, usually within a few months. Using intelligent sensor technology, important data of your machines – whether old or ultra-modern – can be quickly determined with minimal installation effort. The machine operator can manually refine this data via touch panel, for example by selecting reasons for downtimes. In Clouver, users can then find a live digital image of their production, visually prepared in individually designed dashboards. The first measures for production optimization can then often be initiated immediately, so that they quickly benefit from higher productivity. In this way, the modest initial investment is quickly returned. After that, more profit remains and at the same time the first step is taken into the IIoT world of tomorrow.
Users of Clouver…
… identify hidden costs
… maximize productivity and plant efficiency
… always have their key figures in view and can react faster
This is made possible by professional applications like:
- Productivity, real-time and bottleneck analysis
- Remote diagnostics, early warning systems and alarms
- Error statistics and reasons for downtime
- Predictive maintenance
- Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
- Benchmarking and production planning
- Automated production contronlling 24/7
” ‘The more digital the industrial companies are, the faster they will recover from the consequences of the shutdown’. (Berg, 2020) 94 percent [of companies] see Industry 4.0 as the prerequisite for maintaining the competitiveness of German industry. ” (Bitkom, 2020)
The Industry 4.0 Platform Clouver always has the entire production process in focus and provides the crucial information to optimize it sustainably.
Production managers generally know reasons for prolonged downtimes of a cutting machine. However, when the short downtimes add up, the causes of which are often not investigated, there is potential for optimization.
With the new Smart Filter App, it is possible to gain a deeper insight into the production data. Not only messages from the control system and from sensors are visible that display machine statuses. With just one click, downtime reasons – which the machine operator has either selected from adjustable categories or entered himself as a comment – can be displayed. In this way, downtimes are systematically recorded and analyzed. Finally, suitable actions can be defined – for more productivity at lower costs.
A concrete example showed that, in addition to the known reason for regular tool changes, a main reason for downtime was an overflowing leftover crate, for which the safety fence had to be opened repeatedly. With this knowledge, the process was optimized in such a way, that the the crate can now be emptied safely even during ongoing production.
Clouver makes it possible that automatically recorded machine data can be enriched and evaluated with operator knowledge – knowledge from real intelligence.
Equipping medical staff with suitable protective clothing is one of the most important success factors in coping with the corona crisis. However, the lack of protective suits and masks is still huge. For this reason, i.a. the consulting company Gherzi Group, the manufacturer of orthopedic products Sporlastic, the film manufacturer RKW, the nonwoven fabric machine manufacturer Reifenhäuser, the textile technology institutes in Aachen and Chemnitz, as well as other partners have joined forces in the “FIGHT” consortium in order to set up a production of FFP2 protective masks. The cutting of the textile parts for the protective masks is carried out on cutting machines equipped with the professional CNC control systems of the development specialist ProCom GmbH in Aachen.
“The cutting for the protective masks with the ProCom controller runs with a very high throughput and excellent quality. We were supported by ProCom very quickly and unbureaucratically during the implementation of the project, so that we were able to start production immediately”. (“Fight” Coordinator, Adjunct Prof. PD Dr.-Ing. Yves-Simon Gloy, Gherzi van Delden GmbH)
The production of the masks, which was launched within only two weeks, is already in progress and will initially achieve a volume of approximately 750,000 masks per week. The masks are approved and certified by Dekra and the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The longer-term production goals are many times higher.
Adjunct Prof. PD Dr.-Ing. Yves-Simon Gloy, Gherzi van Delden GmbH – Member of Gherzi Textile Organisation
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all confronted with a dynamic and difficult situation. Our families, friends, customers, employees and communities have been dramatically affected by the impact of the virus and its impact on the global economy. We would like to share with you how ProCom is responding to this new situation.
We have installed a prevention team at an early stage and have started to provide employees with advice and measures to protect themselves and others in the best possible way.
On 12 March, ProCom rehearsed the expected emergency and sent all employees to their home office. As the résumé of the day was very positive, our teams have been working from home since 16 March. We have reduced business trips to an absolute minimum until further notice. This means that our contact with you in the near future will be by telephone and digital – definitely but not less. We have adapted our working hours to the situation and made them more flexible. ProCom works less in absolute terms, so that parents, for example, can supervise their children more easily. The planning of the teams guarantees continuous availability and coverage of all customer needs. In these times, ProCom thus focuses even more on its core tasks and issues. We let rest processes that do not serve the concrete operational business aside and the reduced travel activity helps to increase time reserves in order to maintain smooth operations despite reduced working hours for our customers and partners.
At a glance:
- Customer appointments take place virtually – we use tools that allow convenient face-to-face meetings.
- Availability of employees by telephone or e-mail is guaranteed at all times, as before.
- Support for our customers is fully available.
- Seminars/trainings are offered as webinars in small blocks. Offers are in coordination.
- Production: Our production team works in isolation at the company headquarters and our production facility allows a sufficiently large safety distance between each other.
- Software development runs as usual.
- Consulting from our side remote and/or via video conference possible.
- New installations are possible via the usual remote maintenance access.
We hope that you and your families, employees, and all other partners are and stay healthy! We would be happy to discuss with you the effects the Corona pandemic may have on you and our joint business. Our employees have started to contact customers and partners personally. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time.
Your ProCom Team