Vienna, 14 November 2019 – True to EVVA's innovative spirit, the event started with a start-up tour of Vienna. On the second day, the media representatives were able to participate in an exclusive press conference and tour of the Wienerberg facility where they were given personal insights into the site and a current outlook on future challenges and new opportunities - keyword ‘digitalisation’. In the conference, Stefan Ehrlich-Adám, CEO of the EVVA Group, Michael Kiel, Group Division Executive of Operations and Johann Notbauer, Group Division Executive of Market Innovation and Technology reported on the most important milestones since EVVA was founded 100 years ago. In addition to this, they presented upcoming product and manufacturing innovations and gave an outlook on the future of security technology.
Constant innovation since its foundation in 1919
The internationally renowned and recognised supplier of high-quality security systems has been successfully combining tradition with innovation for 100 years, making it one of the world’s leading manufacturers of mechanical and electronic locking systems. Stefan Ehrlich-Adám, CEO of the EVVA Group, gave an outline of the company: “Since the company was founded as the “Invention, Experimentation and Application Institute”, it has been defined by courageous and forward-looking entrepreneurship and the pursuit of innovation”.
Mechanical locking systems ...
A successful example of EVVA's innovative strength - and at the same time an important milestone in the company's expansion - was the invention and patenting of the GPI and MCS mechanical systems, which are still important today, four decades ago. But the permanent further development also continues for the mechanical locking systems. “As patents expire after 20 years, we need to continually develop mechanical locking systems and come up with new ideas”, EHRLICH-ADÁM explains.
... and electronic locking systems
The cultivation with our in-house electronic locking systems division on the European market demonstrates EVVA's pioneering spirit. In the 1970s, the Viennese family-owned company EVVA was considered to be the world’s (!) first company in the industry to use computer programs to calculate and control the most complex master key systems. Meanwhile, Xesar and AirKey are well-established on the market and they are a unique solution for the challenges of global megatrends in the security industry “We had a head start with our in-house development when electronic locking systems were introduced about 25 years ago. And from the very beginning, we had important expertise in the area of mechanical locking systems and to this day we are constantly striving to complement this as well as possible with electronic access control systems. The combination of mechanical locking systems and electronic access control systems is the technically sensible response to the specific security and organisational needs”, said Ehrlich-Adám.
In-house research and development
We aspire to invent and develop durable, very high-quality products in-house, therefore we have an in-house research and development department, which has grown substantially in recent years. “The engineering is done by us and we decide on the product concept. We know the market, the customers and know which solutions the operators expect’, explained Ehrlich-Adám.
Expansion and sustainability
EVVA employs around 460 people at the main production facility in Vienna and has rapidly increased its workforce, particularly in the area of electronic systems and software, coupled with ongoing investments in machinery. For EVVA, the transition from mechanical systems to mechatronic systems ultimately means an increased need for technicians and software engineers. “Going forward, we will also invest in staff who are able to assist with installations”, Ehrlich-Adám explained. In addition to securing and creating jobs, the Viennese family-owned company is also pursuing a targeted CSR strategy at the site, which is being implemented through the Clean Production Approach. The proportion of clean production is currently at 60%.
EVVA Partners and sales around the world
In addition to the main site in Vienna, there are now a total of ten subsidiaries throughout Europe and a network of already over 1,000 electronic and other mechanical locking system sales partners. These are an important factor in our further expansion and international success. Interesting target markets include Southeast Asia and Australia. EVVA locking systems have been installed throughout the world, for instance, on the Queen Mary ocean liner, in Copenhagen's opera theatre, the new Juventus Stadium in Turin, as well as St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. “Our well-developed sales network is one of our greatest strengths. Our core competencies include the project planning, calculation and realization of large systems,“ Ehrlich-Adám said.
Industry 4.0 and excellence
In the second part of the conference, Michael Kiel, Head of Operations, outlined EVVA's status and its plans in the area of Industry 4.0. “EVVA does not see Industry 4.0 as just digitalisation, but also a variety of opportunities for its own development of excellence. We have defined four development focus areas for our claim to excellence associated with Industry 4.0: 1. Digitalisation, 2. Automation, 3. Site development and 4. Collaborations. Our highest priority has always been, and will continue to be, to bring “the people” with us, through the relevant qualification measures and participation in projects”, Kiel explained.
A flagship tool for “lived digitalisation” is EVVA’s Order Fulfillment Tool, which was developed in-house. It provides order support by showing the current status of orders. With the Next Generation Cross Link Production (Xpro) project, EVVA is pursuing several goals: On the one hand, the goal is to create a blueprint for a flexible manufacturing system. To achieve this, in collaboration with TU Vienna, EVVA “digitally upgraded” a machine, adding collaborative robotics to it. On the other hand, we are also accelerating digitalisation in the sense of going “paperless” with drawingless Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), which is already in use as a prototype. For EVVA, the mid-term goal is ultimately to use “digital twins” to create fully digital models of production to plan and optimise processes and procedures. To achieve this, a digital production plan with simulation and optimisation will be implemented by 2020, as part of the AutProSim research project with the Fraunhofer Institute.
“By 2023, EVVA will invest a volume of 20 million euros in shaping the development of excellence, of which two thirds will be spent on high-quality automation solutions”, Kiel explained. We will particularly drive forward new technologies for 3D printing of plastic parts for machine construction and image processing for testing scenarios that are integration into the automation line. But EVVA is also increasingly using collaborative robots (cobots) to support employees in simple, monotonous tasks, such as sorting. “Using automation, we can bring certain tasks and consequently orders from low-wage countries back to the Wienerberg facility. Apart from reducing errors and raising the qualification level, cobots will allow EVVA to increase its competitiveness”, Group Division Executive Michael Kiel explained.
On the topic of site development, Kiel explained why Industry 4.0 is connected to internationalisation. “As part of our Powerplant Strategy with satellite sites, in the future the three sites of Vienna, Tišnov and Krefeld will become a Powerplant, meaning that they will be production units for the manufacturing of components and automated assembly. In turn, the satellite sites will consist of eight Europe-wide distribution sites for manual assembly of smaller production batches.” By 2023, EVVA plans to have established all Powerplants and satellite sites as a unified process chain.
Finally, Kiel outlined the various research collaborations as the fourth development focus area on the path to excellence. For instance, we have worked together with TU Vienna on feasibility studies on the possible ways in which cobots can be used or machine-to-machine communication solutions in production. EVVA and the Fraunhofer Institute are researching solutions for automated production planning and optimisation based on live data from production. The University of Vienna, in turn, is supporting EVVA in the development and expansion of the centurio.work production platform. Furthermore, EVVA is a co-partner of the Austrian Center for Digital Production (CDP), where, among other things, we are researching end-to-end digitalisation from order placement through to production and delivery.
“For EVVA, however, the aim of excellence development, is not just about continuous development, but about regularly determining our position. For example, next year, EVVA will face the industry benchmark, “Fabrik 2020 – die beste Produktion Österreichs” (Factory 2020 – Austria’s best production),” Kiel concluded.
A look into the future
Finally, Johann Notbauer, Group Division Executive of Market Innovation and Technology reported on trends and developments, also based on recent impressions in Silicon Valley at ARM and Microsoft. In his view, the possible scenarios are based on two future technologies: 1. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, linked to 2. Connectivity. Both topics are also linked to the disruptive changes for the security technology sector.
According to Notbauer, machine learning will be disruptive, as machines in the future will be “intelligent” – and therefore the processing and evaluation of the continually calculated data will be done by the machines themselves. Various other possible applications arise from linking digital data with physical data. Digital data is generated through the various touchpoints; physical data refers to diverse sensory data. In the future, we will be able to gain an even greater understanding of how end components and entire systems are used by combining these different forms of data in a targeted way.
Notbauer described an application example: “For instance, for a Xesar system it will be possible in the future for all “intelligent” components to continually measure their own voltage curve and this data could then be centrally evaluated in a “neural” network. The calculated algorithm would be able to recognise when and for which component a battery failure will occur. In turn, this optimises the sustainability and maintenance costs of the system and gives the sales department valuable information for a required modernisation of the whole system. The added value and benefit for the customer consists is in “predictive maintenance”, i.e. failure-free operation linked to cost-optimised maintenance”, explained Notbauer.
The second biggest driver of innovation is connectivity, as a result of the many new opportunities that the game changing 5G has opened up. “5G makes it possible for us to connect production machines directly to the cloud. There is no longer any need for a local programmable logic controller, which is time-consuming to program. This takes place in a central cloud – quickly set up and quickly changed if products or the market demand changes,” explained Notbauer. This trend is called “access as a service".
However, despite machine learning and 5G - EVVA will continue to drive forward innovations in mechanical locking systems, in addition to the benefits of new Technologies as there is still a mechanical element at the end of the chain.