Hardware instead of building blocks: IoT expert Jörg Plenert discovered his love for engineering at a very young age
Digitalisation and industry 4.0 | Engineering | innovation | People at thyssenkrupp | They research electromobility, design huge industrial plants, develop software that enables production plants to communicate with each other, and even work in the most remote places in the world: engineers ensure progress - and hardly any job is as multifaceted as theirs. During the official "Engineers Week" we focus on their pioneering spirit and showcase the various fields of our engineers’ work. Jörg Plenert, technical director (CTO) at thyssenkrupp Materials IoT GmbH, works with his team on the smart industry platform toii®. As part of the Engineers Week, he gives us an insight into his day-to-day work and tells us what inspires him about his job.
Still a software engineer at heart
Engineering has been part of Jörg Plenert’s life since his earliest childhood. As a small boy he often watched his father assemble hardware systems for the automation of the steel division of thyssenkrupp. “I was always fascinated by that, so even when I was still at school I was interested in topics like software development,” says Plenert, recalling the beginnings of his passion for new technologies and the engineering profession.
During his school days, his interest in software development became more and more apparent: Plenert developed the school administration system of the secondary school he was attending at the time and worked on software projects at an industrial electronics company while he was still at school.
Plenert’s enthusiasm for software and programming continues to this day: “Even after so many years, I am still fascinated by software and software development, because you can create a functioning product with software from nothing. Although I have many management tasks as CTO today, I am happy when the opportunity arises to develop software myself from time to time.
Fascination IoT: How Jörg Plenert and his team are revolutionizing everyday production
The development of innovative software and IoT solutions for tomorrow’s factories and production facilities makes his job at thyssenkrupp Materials IoT GmbH particularly exciting for Jörg Plenert. One of these innovations is the IoT and Industry 4.0 Platform toii® – an end-to-end digital solution that optimizes the efficiency of production plants.
To be more precise: toii® is a digital help with which the most diverse machines and systems can communicate with each other and thus streamline production chains: In this way, the IoT solution from Jörg Plenert’s team helps to save costs and valuable time.
In addition to the collection and exchange of production data, toii® enables the automation of many production processes, the connection of machinery to production control, intralogistics or to an enterprise resource planning system. In short: toii® helps industrial production make the leap into the digital age.
In order to let machines from different generations communicate with each other, Plenert and his team have combined many modern technologies, but also old familiar ones: “Communication between machines from different eras is a bit like a meeting of the United Nations: everyone speaks different languages and has different syntaxes. The part of toii® that is responsible for connecting the machines is more or less the same as the interpreters at a meeting of the UN”, Plenert describes the IoT solution.
Software development – a craft of the digital age
Those who only think of windows on computer screens when thinking of software should reconsider this association. Because the exciting thing about progressive digitization, as in industrial production for example, is the transfer of the results of months of development work from the virtual dimension to the physical world: “The fascination is always greatest when software from the virtual world begins to function in the physical world. For me, it’s much more exciting when software ends up controlling a machine and is not just a window on a screen,” Plenert emphasizes.
Although software development is done on a computer screen, it ultimately serves to optimize the real world – production processes become faster and more efficient. In other words: The software that Jörg Plenert and his team develop simplifies, optimizes and, in the case of toii®, revolutionizes everyday production.
Plenert sums up what the art of engineering means to him: “Many tasks in industry have been automated, but the development of software has remained a kind of craftsmanship. That is why good software is always an individual work of art. For me personally, this is what engineering art is all about: The creation of technical artwork.”