#pAutomator: Dr.Florian Stengele, E-Sensorix
Our #pAutomator today is Dr. Florian Stengele, CEO, E-Sensorix. Stengele has been involved in technological innovation throughout his career. After starting with Endress+Hauser in 2002, he became the CEO at Krohne France.
In 2007, he founded KFA Sarl to produce high-quality level measurement devices based on the TDR Technology. He successfully sold the company to his partners in 2016 and founded E-Sensorix Sarl in order to pursue his passion for E-Commerce business for level measurement devices worldwide. Excerpts from the interview…
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How did you start off your career in this industry and how has your experience been so far?
I studied and completed my PhD in Mechanical Engineering in Germany. I have also studied Economics.
In terms of my career, I started with Endress+Hauser in 1994 as a Product Manager for level measurement in free-space radars. I continued my career as the Head of Product Management at Maulburg (a product center of our company). Later, I was responsible for all the level switches at E+H, from the raw materials to the finished product in terms of R&D, preparations and marketing activities.
What major trends have you been witnessing?
There have been recent developments around the level measurement for the process automation. In my opinion, in the process industry, products are no longer the leading force. Products tend to become more and more identical in terms of specifications and applications on the market. The trend is towards services which have gained importance in time. Besides, the industry is quite conservative and, given the fact that the evolution is exponential, it needs massive efforts of adaptation.
Looking back, what has been the most special phase in your career?
Leadership and a proper coaching play a very important role in defining an individual’s career. I certainly had the best coach of my life at E+H, who was my first boss and mentor. Having a visionary approach is essential today. He gave me all the freedom and had the vision to evaluate the best and worst situations. Under his guidance, I incorporated a strategy within the company that helped me to gather experience and improve my knowledge.
How do you select or approach industrial measurement solutions for the ever-challenging demands of modern developments today? Can you share any of your experiences of this?
Because the process industry focuses more and more on core competencies and processes rather than on instruments, companies like E+H will have to integrate more services for the customers in the near future.
Since E+H and other big players focus on big customers, SMEs will not have sales support as they do to date. In my opinion, the entire dynamics of sales support will diminish with time. That’s why we have a different approach. We are into the E-Commerce business. We want to help SMEs to buy products easily and we give them support via email and telephone.
What are the cases when you look for multi-brand products in the market?
It is rather challenging to experiment with multi-brand products. Companies have preferences and the consumers do not like to change their habits. E-Commerce is not easy because it is only based on technology and the intensive personal relationship is missing for the seller as well as for the buyer. But especially the SME, customers will adapt over time
How do you see the integration of IoT around the industry? Do you think digital practices have evolved in the industry?
We focus 100% on the IoT strategy. In the near future, we will have to cope with important themes like Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technology, which develop at an exponential pace.
At the moment, there is a bottom-up process taking place. The process industry is not ready for such a transformation. However, the customers of the Process Automation industry are looking for IoT and blockchain solutions to optimize their processes. As a next step, the process industry will have to adapt to the customer’s wishes.
We are in an age of implementing IoT practices and blockchain where the sensors communicate with each other and pay the bills for the consumption of materials from the process industry via smart contracts. This will take time, but we have already run a test version in a small project.
Also, the industry so far is more oriented towards hardware. I see a definite move into services. We will witness the change in the next 10 years.
There is a lot of buzz around becoming future-ready. In your opinion, what are the major points to keep in mind to become smart or future-enabled?
The process industry together with the sensor industry will undergo a massive transformation in the near future.
There will be a movement towards more services such as blockchain, AI, and maintenance of the instrumentation basis via external companies such as E+H. This scenario will certainly lead the industry to substantial improvements.
What is your piece of advice for the next generation of engineers?
Be ready to face challenges. Software eats up everything. If you are not able to work with software, it will be difficult to survive in the industry. One should focus on learning programming. Also, we have to keep in mind that the customers of the process industry will change the habits of the industry and we need to be aligned with it.