FORCAM is one of the world’s leading solution providers in the field of production control and the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Interview with Werner Gruber, Co-CEO / CFO of Forcam Enisco GmbH.

Easy Engineering: A brief description of the company and its activities.

Werner Gruber: FORCAM and ENISCO are pioneers of the Smart Factory: As a group of companies under the umbrella of FORCAM ENISCO GmbH, we support corporations and mid-sized companies in sustainably securing their competitiveness through software solution for data-driven manufacturing. Our customers include Audi, Bizerba, Borgwarner, Daimler Buses, IKEA, Jungheinrich, Liebherr, Siemens Energy, Swarovski Optik, Voestalpine. With around 200 employees worldwide, we operate in the DACH region from Böblingen, Heidelberg and Ravensburg. International offices are located in France, the USA, China and India.

E.E: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

W.G: We are experts for discrete manufacturing. That means for the production of distinct, individual finished products that can be easily counted, assembled, and often disassembled into their component parts. Branches we are most active in are automotive with OEMs and suppliers, aerospace and defence, mechanical engineering, medical devices and premium goods. Our modular solution world for machine connectivity and management IT solutions, so called Manufacturing Execution Systems MES, as well as our consulting and services cover every stage of a digital transformation in discrete manufacturing.

E.E: What’s the news about new products?

W.G: We have launched the next generation software for shop floor connectivity at this year’s HANNOVER MESSE. The name of the solution is AC4DC – Asset Connectivity for Data Collection. With AC4DC, we have started a completely new software generation for digitally networked factories. The solution can significantly increase reliability, flexibility and scalability in production. Special feature: AC4DC works in industrial Mini-PCs. Users configure and operate the software centrally via cloud. This allows companies to manage machines worldwide easier and more fail-safe than before. AC4DC forms the solid foundation for MES systems such as SAP Digital Manufacturing with real-time analyses of energy consumption, performance, quality and more. 

E.E: What are the ranges of products/services?

W.G: Our modular software solutions world is designed to cover every step of a digital transformation in discrete manufacturing – from the entry into the Smart Factory to the automated control of entire production and logistics processes across plants and national borders. The range of our portfolio consists of three competences. First area of our portfolio are software solutions for machine connectivity and standardized data model as foundation for realtime analyses in MES. Second portfolio area consists of different MES solutions for smart manufacturing with a great variety of customizable functions – visualization and reporting, Overall Equipment Effectiveness OEE, energy monitoring, track and trace, detailed planning and a Production Control System for highly automated processes in production and logistics. Third is our certified consultancy for SAP Digital Manufacturing, the cloud-based MES solution of SAP. We are silver partner of SAP with our connectivity solutions which are showcased in the SAP Industry 4.0 Pop-Up Factories in Walldorf and Philadelphia, USA.

E.E: What is the state of the market where you are currently active?

W.G: The need for digital solutions in discrete manufacturing is still very high. Let me quote a recent perception of an analyst of ARC: ´Despite waves of innovation and consolidation, the typical industrial organization has a complex tapestry of siloed applications, held together by the digital version of duct tape … the ubiquitous Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet.´ Certainly, there are quite a number of front-runners in smart manufacturing, but obviously a majority of manufacturing companies still face challenges to comprehensively digitize their manufacturing processes. Those companies need best in class solutions to produce more efficient and sustainable. 

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

W.G: Improving resource efficiency, strengthening resilience in supply chains and complying with sustainability topics are the main strategic goals of our customers. These goals are to be reached most effectively through smart manufacturing only. Thus, the demand for digital solutions in both, process and discrete manufacturing, will certainly remain on a high level for the rest of this decade. Corresponding to my perception is that analysts expect the market for MES solutions to keep rising at a growth rate of nearly 10 percent from 2024 to 2029. Main triggers are seen in the increasing demand for operational efficiency and increasing complexity of manufacturing processes. 


E.E: What are most important innovations to be seen in your market?

W.G: The IT world is changing rapidly. On the software side, microservices, containerization and Kubernetes are opening up new possibilities also in our competence field for shop floor solutions. McKinsey sees the emergence of microservices as a paradigm shift away from monolithic applications towards a decentralized architecture. And hardware is becoming ever more compact and cost-effective. This paradigm shift offers new possibilities in operation with more fail-safe data flows and more flexible IT architectures. That’s why our software developers are heavily involved with microservices, containerization and Kubernetes. I have learned that the trick with microservices is to build them like standardized containers that can be easily combined and assembled into ever new forms, powered by open source frameworks like Kubernetes. We are already developing our connectivity solutions in line with these new possibilities.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2024?

W.G: Connectivity for factory assets and the scalability of machine data acquisition remain top-priority topics. Why? Because in most factories we find heterogeneous machine parks – that is to say machines and sensors from different producers, machines of different ages, machines with or without own software control. Next important topic is real-time and historic analyses of production and processes in order to enhance productivity. These analyses are delivered by state high performance MES solutions which are asked for more and more. Why? Because with MES solutions in place, companies can improve their resource efficiency and thus their productivity and overall competitiveness significantly.