- Information technology is essential to develop smart software
- Innovadis, Serious VR and Mindhash work on the unique combination of talent and smart technology daily. This combination is a great opportunity to strengthen Twente's competitive position.
Ellen Kuipers from Twente Branding also sees this unique combination of talent and smart technology as a unique opportunity to strengthen Twente's competitive position. “This is an opportunity to present ourselves as entrepreneurial Twente. The region becomes more attractive for new talents and high-quality work can be retained. All in all, this combination has a positive influence on the business climate of Twente.”
According to Van Kreij, Twente has a unique position. “We have a strong manufacturing industry with a rich history. Additionally, many students from the University of Twente and Saxion University of Applied Sciences decide to stay, making us able to work on Smart Industry par excellence. Last but not least, Twente is an entrepreneurial region with companies that are focused. Customers will not get smooth salespersons here that promise everything. Instead, salespeople know what they are talking about because they studied it.”
The manufacturing industry has traditionally been conservative. Gradually, however, the realisation is dawning that the world is changing so fast that arguments such as ‘we have been doing it this way for years’ no longer uphold. Marjo Nieuwenhuijse of Serious VR: "I understand the restraint as software is a lot more elusive than a new machine. However, once manufacturing companies have trained with our VR glasses, they realise the convenience and possibilities. It simply is a threshold they need to cross.”
Van Kreij adds: “Companies often are more likely to invest 150k into a new truck than 10k in software. Fortunately, the new generation of entrepreneurs now realises that software is essential to compete.
All three entrepreneurs know from experience that the value of normal products is increased by adding software. “There is no gain in collecting data but not using it. However, if the industry realises that costs can be cut or even new business models can be developed with this data, the new generation truly is interested,” says Licht.
Even though the IT sector in Twente is growing rapidly, it is still well-arranged, and parties meet each other regularly. “Collaborating as companies from Twente is the only way to interest the big players. Additionally, if each party is focused on one specific area, we can all exist without competing and hurting each other,” says Van Kreij.
Serious VR has been working together with other companies in the Industrial Reality Hub for six months. Among others, the companies were jointly present at the Hannover Messe to introduce the smart technologies from Twente to the (manufacturing) industry. Also, they organised a symposium for all customers on the possibilities of VR and AR. Nieuwenhuijse: “We exchange knowledge and together we can present a much more extensive offer to customers outside Twente.”
Joining forces to develop innovations jointly offers opportunities for Twente. “I understand that entrepreneurs spend much time on their innovations. But if eighty per cent of that creativity were to be invested in their companies and the other twenty per cent in coming up with innovations from Twente aimed at the market outside of Twente, we will make history here. The exceptionally high network density in Twente, which often is focused inwards, will then become an innovative network that collectively focuses on the outside world. Together we provide answers to global issues,” says Ellen Kuipers.
“Our company helps organisations in the manufacturing industry to improve their position and get closer to their customers. The manufacturing industry has traditionally been strongly focused on the product and less on customer contact. However, the market is becoming more demanding as customers want quick access to all possible information about a product, whether it is a manual, the status of orders or stock overviews.
In the past, you could still store all that information in Excel lists, but now that the assortments become larger and change more often, it is impossible to keep things clear for customers. Especially for new buyers, it does not work anymore. Large retailers in particular demand that all product information can be delivered quickly. There are also more and more standards that you must meet to be able to deliver at all. If you don’t comply with such standards, you often no longer count. To be able to continue to participate in this fast market, Innovadis builds various portals. Thanks to these portals, all product information is quickly and easily accessible. We develop high-quality IT solutions that contribute to the success of the manufacturing industry. Among others, Innovadis collaborates with Apollo Vredestein, Pentair and the Morssinkhof Group.
The new generation that is now taking the helm in the manufacturing industry sees the need for this renewal. If you want to step into new sales areas, you must meet the customer's requirements and expect that you can provide the personalised data that is requested very precisely and quickly. We also invest a lot in innovation and the internet of things (IoT). With IoT the production process can be made more efficient, and value can be added by applying IoT in products.”
“We offer trainings to industry using virtual reality. With such a training, a company can allow new employees and customers to use virtual machines before they start working with the real machines. This is possible within the customers’ company, but also at a local maintenance team of a customer or branch at the other side of the world. Trainers of a client used to fly to Mexico to instruct new people, and if there were many new people, they had to visit again. With our VR training, information is always available, and people can practice as often as they want. If you let people practice with real machines right away, they can make mistakes in the first few days, costing money. As a result, VR training gives a company a better-trained workforce, with lower costs.
Moreover, training performance analytics provide feedback on how things are going. If trainees master certain skills, they can go up one level. This serious gaming component particularly appeals to younger people. They learn by doing, instead of by listening to a presentation. It makes a big difference in learning effectiveness also, as eighty per cent of all information is retained by doing instead of twenty per cent when solely listening. Among others, we supply to the chemical industry. Safety in the processes is paramount. With our VR training, people can practice safely. We also notice that the industry buys the glasses because they look cool. Companies upgrade themselves by training this way instead of using a factory tour.”
“Mindhash has not even been around for a year, so we are still a start-up. Nevertheless, large high-tech companies know where to find us. Such large companies often outsource their innovation to well-known creative agencies. They do market research and often come up with a recommendation that is rather vague and still needs to be further developed.
We are specialised in quickly developing a proof of concept that globally represents the solution and can be tested by users. We can develop in two to eight weeks. With such a proof of concept, much measurable feedback is gained, which makes it possible for companies to see what works and what does not, immediately. We often say: ‘Fast failing is fast learning’, because it is better to find out what works and what does not with a concept than a fully developed product.
Among others, we work for Victron, the market leader in solar chargers and batteries for off-grid power solutions. They are used in inland shipping, industry, telecom, home storage and more. We devised and developed a module that uses LoRaWAN, that allows for devices to be read, configured and controlled remotely. Because of this module, their products can be applied in many more situations. For example, it used to be necessary to fly a helicopter to a mobile phone mast to do inspections. Now, based on the data that is received through LoRaWAN, it is possible to diagnose and to apply a software update remotely. With smart software, we can add value in a rapidly changing world. And because it is not easy to copy our software, it is our intellectual advantage compared to countries such as China.”