Digital engine of growth

An IT company from Oberpfalz makes Germany’s large corporations fit for Industry 4.0

The times when data was fed into the machine as a file or disc are gone. Digitisation ensures “communication” between people and robots. An IT company from Oberpfalz makes Germany’s large corporations fit for Industry 4.0.

The IGZ company, which specialises in SAP software for logistics and production in tranquil Falkenberg (Tirschenreuth district) has become the first port of call for intelligent networking of complex working planes in German-speaking countries. “We help companies to become even more efficient with Industry 4.0”, says owner Johann Zrenner. Along with his brother Wolfgang Gropengießer, in 15 years they built IGZ from a two-man operation in their father’s barn into an IT forge with 300 employees, of which almost 50 per cent are software and computing engineers as well as experts for control technology. Continental, BMW, Hugo Boss or even Conrad und Krones in the region entrust their storage logistics to the concepts created in Falkenberg (Zrenner: “And we are still active for these customers"). Now in recent years IGZ has also accomplished the networking of machine production with existing IT systems, such as for Hipp, Zentis, SEW or watch manufacturer Omega.

“Talking" systems

IGZ digitised a “globally unique” factory in Hannover-Stöcken for tyre manufacturer Continental. Zrenner and his colleagues Markus Wenning and Andreas Spiegel talk about the integration of business management in the production. Production planning was not the least to profit from this, and it allowed for singular, individual production processes. Wenning: “Instead of having 10,000 orange running shoes, it is now possible to have an individual pair in blue at a customer-friendly price."

The interactive data exchange also spares the time-consuming and therefore costly refitting processes for the machines when converting the production. Spiegel: “The systems talk to one another, like the CNC machine and the welding robot." This network penetrates fully through all configurable products, such as the assembly line production of cars. Zrenner stresses the enormous benefits for “highly flexible series production” just as for individual manufacture. Digitisation allows interfaces to be linked in a matter of milliseconds. The employee is briefed in the truest sense of the word through monitors with real-time data; camera systems control the production.

Extreme demand

“We are not taking jobs from people, but providing intelligent support”, Zrenner believes. The objectives are to increase quality and to increase production output by between 5 and 10 per cent when using the same machines and number of staff. Returns on investments are usually achieved in just 2 to 5 years, whereby the costs for the digital conversion are between 0.5 and 2 million euros, depending on the project. “With this increase in productivity, the German corporations are far ahead of the international competition. Other countries envy us and even the USA is lagging behind”, says Zrenner. The technological networking makes permanent production easier and more cost-effective.

Johann Zrenner confirms to our magazine an “extremely high demand” for this IT service: “Industry 4.0 for us is the epitome of a driver of growth." The former 5-year cycle for extending the “software barn” could therefore shorten dramatically: The planning for the next construction phase of IGZ has already reached maturity.

Source:, Author: Clemens Fütterer

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