Innovation is converting ideas into financials.
Automation is evolving – rapidly. As Monika sees it, today’s industrial devices – factories, buildings, transport systems – are quickly becoming digital gadgets that in the future will seamlessly communicate. Envisioning a strategy for achieving big-picture interoperability is this MBA’s area of specialty. Since joining TE in 2010, Monika has worked across the organization to establish and mature new approaches to enabling and managing innovation, a need she identified and anticipated while leading strategy and product management for TE’s solar solutions. Today, she leads a diverse team of experts in engineering, product management, and business development. Under her guidance, her team – based in Europe and the US – is responsible for all areas of innovation in automation, from idea generation to market launch. Of particular interest to Monika is identifying how customer needs are expanding and how trends in technology and industry are opening new opportunities for industrial innovation, business partnerships, and research collaborations. Currently, she is closely monitoring the Internet of Things (IoT), which Monika sees as having tremendous potential for helping customers in industrial markets automate factory systems, in ways that enable factories to increase productivity with expected outcomes. Given her success in identifying the key enablers shaping new ideas, it is worth following Monika’s ideas about IoT and its potential impact on the future of automation.
It is not enough to have a great idea - Innovation happens when a customer sees the value in the solution and will ultimately apply the solution.
- Monika Kuklok,
- Senior Manager, Innovation Platforms & Ventures
How will the Internet of Things (IoT) affect the factory of the future?
The impact and the potential from the overall trend of IoT is biggest in industrial markets. In the future every physical device on the factory floor will be a digital gadget: everything will be connected and communicating. This also means each thing will become more intelligent. The IoT / Industry 4.0 will enable huge productivity gains in factory environments and will enable addressing increasingly complex customer demands (e.g., batch size one, overnight delivery). The above trends will have a major impact on the future of connectivity solutions: Increasing need for reliable Ethernet communication and new Ethernet connectivity solutions; need to integrate sensors everywhere; intelligence at the connector level to enhance data granularity and system performance.
Which automation ideas will have the most long-term impact on future digital factories?
The long-term vision is robots will be producing robots! To enable this vision new technologies will be applied in automation systems. The key challenge is to design robots that can adapt to the environment and can self-optimize. This requires increased penetration of sensors, connectivity of these sensors, and advanced processing of the sensor information that is generated. Think about a robotic arm with a sensor skin just like a human that can safely work alongside an operator in a manufacturing line.
What types of engineering changes do you expect to see over the next five years?
The speed of innovation will be increasing dramatically across all industries and will require a mindset change in engineering organizations. Automation technology and network technology will have to move closer to reach the long-term vision of self-optimized manufacturing. Electro-mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, electronics engineers, and software engineers will have to work side-by-side to design the intelligent solutions in the IoT space. Collaboration across disciplines and with partners along the entire value chain will be key.
What do you find most enjoyable/interesting in working for TE?
TE is a unique company unmatched in the breadth of industries we serve and the technologies we can offer stand-alone or in a combination of connectors, antennas, sensors, relays, and many more. When I meet new customers or industry partners that do not know TE yet, I usually start by explaining to them that they have been interacting with many TE products on their way to our meeting: in the car that they drove, on the plane or train that they took, the mobile phone they used, in their manufacturing facility and their office building, and so forth. We have a great diversity of talent across our organization that can bring extraordinary customer experience to our clients across the globe.
How does TE approach innovation, in a way that directly translates to the solutions we provide to customers?
Let’s start by how to define innovation: Innovation is converting ideas into financials. We work closely with our customers to understand which problem we can help solve for them. The problem definition triggers a creative effort to come up with ideas on possible solutions leveraging the breadth of technologies we master to ultimately address the customer’s need. It is not enough to have a great idea - Innovation happens when a customer sees the value in the solution and will ultimately apply the solution. At TE, innovation is at our heart. We won the Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global innovation award in four consecutive years. We actively contribute to foster an innovation culture: the annual internal TechCon where we invite our Top 400 engineers for a 3-day conference is one of the most professional technology events that I have attended. Also the annual innovator game is a great example of how to foster innovation in the company.
In factory environments, dust, dirt, water, corrosion, and vibration all get in the way of the connections that are crucial to maximizing uptime and productivity. TE's ARISO Contactless Connectivity overcomes those design restrictions.