Sensors for Highly Automated and High Speed Production Processes

Dr. Thomas Wisspeintner, Managing Director of Micro-Epsilon, identifies the role of the company in the Test & Measurements industry

  • Sensors for Highly Automated and High Speed Production Processes
    Sensors for Highly Automated and High Speed Production Processes

IEN Europe: Dr. Wisspeintner, how important is the SENSOR+TEST show for Micro-Epsilon, also compared with other companies?
Dr. Wisspeintner: "Sensor+Test" is one of the most important trade fairs for Micro-Epsilon. Here we can meet the most relevant visitors with regards to our business, and that's the reason why we often exhibit here for the first time our new products to the experts.

IEN Europe: Is or will the Test & Measurement sector be the driving force of the manufacturing industry?
Dr. Wisspeintner: Test & Measurement definitely plays a decisive role within the manufacturing industry. Exactly the sensors that we offer are required for highly automated, high speed production processes in order to ensure high quality standards are met. Our sensors for displacement, distance, position, colour and temperature are increasingly being used for enhancing and securing the manufacturing process. Which means the trend is already moving towards protecting quality during the production process, and not just after the product has been manufactured. As with our own products, for years we've been aiming at factors such as integration, intelligence and a wide selection of interfaces and so we see ourselves as being ideally equipped for the development of sensors for a variety of industry sectors.

IEN Europe: Whether capacitive, eddy current sensors, displacement, distance, position sensors, or other measuring systems, Micro-Epsilon is particularly strong in measuring techniques for OEMs. Why are your products for OEMs so attractive to end users?
Dr. Wisspeintner: Our objective is to find the best solution for the customer. In case of need, we are prepared to develop customised products. Despite the rapid growth of the company group, we have preserved the flexibility of our product development process, which is very much appreciated by our customers. Furthermore, OEM applications require good technical understanding of one's own products and also of the customer's application. Here, Micro-Epsilon scores highly with well-trained technical sales staff who collaborate closely with development teams in order to find the right solutions. We work very closely with our customers when it comes to developing custom-engineered solutions. The customer presents us with the measurement task. After this, we work together in a team of experts from our sales, product management, development staff and the customer, on the technical solution.

IEN Europe: In which sectors are your solutions used most?
Dr. Wisspeintner:
Our most important sector is surely machine building, which in Germany is also very strong in terms of exports. In my opinion, its big strength is German engineering, which is globally recognised as high precision, reliable and cutting-edge technology. Examples are position monitoring in lithography machines, in process quality control of premium mobiles, position measurement in hydraulic valves, wear measurement in ship engines, as well as mirror adjustment for laser control. A further application area is measurement in factory automation, for example, in tyre production. There, we test the tyres for sidewall defects. To this end we combine optical procedures with image processing. By combining profile sensors and image processing, it is possible to measure precisely on the black sidewall of the tyre, despite existing nubs and lettering. The image processing can eliminate all of these artefacts. Furthermore, this is a 100 percent control.

IEN Europe: Which are the most promising developments in sensor technology? Which new technologies is Micro-Epsilon working on?
Dr. Wisspeintner:
Innovations and further developments have always been an integral part of our company strategy. We are focusing on smart-sensor concepts: miniaturisation, intelligence, interface standards, long service life and ease of use, taking into account the crucial role always played by measurement accuracy. Hence for many years our sensors have been "Industry 4.0 compatible".

IEN Europe: What do you expect from this year's Sensor+Test?
Dr. Wisspeintner:
Sensor+Test offers an ideal platform to present experts with the latest trends and products. From the fair we expect a strong interest with regards to our new products for non-contact measurement technology.

IEN Europe: How will your market shares develop within those market segments? Dr. Wisspeintner: During the last six months we've opened new distribution subsidiaries in Sweden and India. To us, internationalisation means moving our know-how from the application, trade and measurement technology fields, to our target markets. We want our customers to rely on a high quality consulting service available locally in their region.

IEN Europe: Will 2015 be a good year for Micro-Epsilon - maybe even a record year? Dr. Wisspeintner: Sensor technology is a growth sector, as we can read everywhere. And if you take a look at Micro-Epsilon's development, then you will agree 100%, taking into account that we grow more strongly than the sector, which shows great potential. Let's think about the concept "Industry 4.0": such a factory will be working only with good sensors providing machines with "sensing elements" and "eyes", and this is the only way machines will be able to communicate with each other and exchange information. In addition, resource conservation and energy saving will be increasingly relevant. Improving energy efficiency also plays an important role. Automation and safety are hot topics for sensor technology, as well as ease of use. Mankind aims at improving its standard of living; consequently, sensors will be increasingly employed in the future, particularly high precision sensors and intelligent sensors. On the other hand, Micro-Epsilon is renowned by the durability of its development: this is more important than a single record year.

IEN Europe: Can you tell us something more about your business figures, such as turnover, revenue or number of employees?
Dr. Wisspeintner:
Our company's growth is usually higher than growth figures provided by the AMA Association. Particularly for exports, we register strong increases. Our organisational structure mirrors these growth figures, so that we can hire new employees each year.