ASCON SYSTEMS – Five seasoned managers found a company start-up and want to radically improve the production processes change. Their goal: the autonomous factory.
On the table are coffee pots, water bottles, a basket of pretzels. And around the table are five men aged between 45 and 61, and we are in Stuttgart, a haven for many small and medium-sized businesses, Daimler, Porsche and Bosch.
This is supposed to be the management team of a hopeful start-up? Isn’t that rather the management team of an established Swabian family business? No, they are revolutionary, but in a conservative garb. The founding team of Ascon Systems GmbH, in alphabetical order: Kilian Grefen (56), Alexander von Klein (45), Raimund Menges (60), Uwe Rettich (61) and Mathias Stach (51). These five men, so obsessed with their idea that their rhetoric seems as fitting as it is interchangeable: “disruptive”, “revolutionary” is what they want to be.
What you have to give them credit for: The quintet has a clear, tangible idea of their product: at the very end of their revolution there should be fully automated production, the deserted factory or – as it is called in the technical jargon – the “factory without light”. And in a first step, their software should make the conversion of plants much easier. Now the jury of the renowned “Entrepreneur of the Year” competition has chosen the start-up as the winner in the “Young Companies” category.
The competition is organized by the auditing company EY, manager magazin is media partner. The five have been working together for a good three years now – back in January 2017 they founded Ascon Systems and developed a software. It enables, Raimund Menges, the strategist of the team, without a hint of a doubt in his voice, “a completely digital integration of product development, planning and production – in real time”.
With its Digital Twin technology – the digital twin – the gap between the digital planning and production worlds will be closed for the first time. “This is revolutionary,” says Menges. To be on the safe side, Mathias Stach, who is a big player in the VW Group, explains
what this means in practice. If a car company wants to convert its final assembly line, this process takes four to five months. External specialists must be brought in to reprogram the control system. Stach: “A great deal of effort”, with their software, this is much faster. Instead of months, they talk about hours or even minutes. After that, however – to reassure the Volkswagen works council – the workers get back to work and build the cars together.
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