Minister Brigitte Zypries visits Roth

16/08/2017

Brigitte Zypries, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, visited Roth Industries in Dautphetal-Buchenau on 14 August 2017. During a tour of the site, the Minister was impressed by the capabilities of the diversified family company. Invited representatives from around 80 companies based in the Marburg-Biedenkopf region attended a business talk on the topic of Industry 4.0 to mark the end of the visit.

The Minister received a warm welcome from the Roth family and other members of the Managing Board on arrival, and was then given a tour of the site, taking in the production departments for floor heating systems and plastic heat storage tanks as well as the company’s logistics centre, which was built in line with the latest energy standards. Brigitte Zypries was full of praise for the company: “Roth not only sells energy-efficient products, but it is also a family-owned company that operates its plants in an energy-efficient way”. Roth was also praised for its commitment to the region, and for helping the next generation into the world of work, with a trainee quota of around 10%. Brigitte Zypries was also impressed by the company’s international mindset. The Minister referred to Roth as a “hidden champion” – a company that is a global market leader in its industry. “With our range of energy storage systems, floor heating and cooling systems and composite technologies, we are in fact one of the global market leaders. We are listed in the dictionary of German international market leaders published by Langenscheidt”, says Manfred Roth, Managing Shareholder of Roth Industries.

Business talk on Industry 4.0: Challenges for industry
Sören Bartol, Member of the German Parliament, invited companies from the region to attend a business talk on digitisation hosted in the Roth Atrium. Together with Minister Zypries, Matthias Donges, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Roth Industries and Professor Gerd Manthei from the University of Applied Sciences Mittelhessen, Bartol engaged in a discussion of the topic with attendees. Digitisation presents major challenges for our society and economy. In the context of these challenges, the speakers discussed the development of digitisation in Germany compared to other countries, and the effects of digitisation on the competitiveness of German companies. Other topics on the agenda included data security and network strength, changes to the employment market, digitisation training for professionals, and the design of “smart” products that are capable of communicating digitally with their environment.

The future is “smart”
Companies and politicians agreed that it was essential for Germany to keep pace with developments and invest in the digital shift. The digital transformation will bring huge opportunities to improve quality of life, apply revolutionary business models, and do business efficiently. Federal Minister Brigitte Zypries explained: “Roth is a great example of digitisation in action. In production, machines communicate with one another – this is a manufacturer that arrived in the Industry 4.0 era some time ago”. The family-owned company is prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. In 1996, Roth introduced the SAP ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. Today, Roth companies across the world are networked via this solution. The system is currently being replaced by the SAP-owned database HANA. Roth uses robots in various parts of its production process, and already operates production cells with multiple robots and humans working together in a team. CEO Matthias Donges explains: “As the digital shift progresses, the use of robots will increase further in industry, because they will become faster and more flexible, and able to accomplish a much wider variety of tasks”. In administrative processes, too, Roth is digitising repetitive process steps. The company is also working with its suppliers to increase the use of digital data exchange methods.

Products are becoming digital
Matthias Donges continues: “New digital products and the continued development of our existing products, systems and services to meet digital requirements are important factors for us, along with the increasing degree of digitisation in our external communication. Our products – such as heat pumps, heat storage tanks and surface heating and cooling systems – are offered as part of comprehensive systems. However, in the future, these products will need to communicate with one another more intelligently. They will also need to communicate digitally with products from other manufacturers, via control systems and sensor technology”. No standards have yet been defined for smart home systems. According to Matthias Donges, the platform that the devices will use to communicate with one another, and which of these platforms will become prevalent in smart heating and smart home applications, is yet to be seen. “The only thing that medium-sized businesses can do is to develop digital solutions that are open, to enable them to communicate across various platforms”, says the CEO.

Strengthening networks
In addition to forging ahead with internal and external digitisation in building and industrial technology within Roth Industries, the family-owned company is also focusing on its networks. Roth has partnered with the University of Applied Sciences (THM) Mittelhessen to finance the endowment chair “Industry 4.0/Digitisation”. The company is also working with the building automation department of the THM in Friedberg to build on its expertise in the field of “smart building”. Manfred Roth is optimistic about the future: “In Germany, we’ve managed to tackle every challenge we’ve faced to date with smart political choices and courageous business decisions. We’re confident we’ll be able to do the same in the future”.