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Strategy
15/11/2019

The foundation for growth: Standards

Dr. Andreas Starke and Dr. Stephan Middelkamp
Dr. Andreas Starke, General Manager Intellectual Property and Dr. Stephan Middelkamp, General Manager Quality Management

Standards – in the sense of a common denominator between user and provider in order to define a common solution – are encountered everywhere and every day, both at work and at home. But why is it important for a company, and crucial for its future, to set standards? Here, a consideration on different levels and from the perspective of the user and the provider is particularly interesting during the course of the development of new technologies. What steps need to be taken to "shape the future with technologies for people" in accordance with the HARTING vision and to provide impulses for the industrial sector? tec.news spoke with Stephan Middelkamp, General Manager Quality Management at the HARTING Technology Group, as well as with Dr. Andreas Starke, General Manager Intellectual Property at HARTING.

tec.news: Why is there a need for standards?

Dr. Stephan Middelkamp:

Imagine if you could produce a power outlet at home that’s tailored to your needs. As tempting as this may sound, it becomes problematic once you start to put up the house’s infrastructure. At the latest, I would need to recognise in the electronics store that the devices I want to buy don’t fit into my outlet, that the project has failed. Standards therefore serve to ensure cross-manufacturer compatibility. The degree of dissemination of a product or a solution increases when things from multiple manufacturers fit together and can also interact within a system.

Standards serve to ensure cross-manufacturer compatibility.

Dr. Stephan Middelkamp, General Manager Quality Management

Dr. Andreas Starke:

This describes the perspective of the user. From a supplier's perspective, investment protection should be mentioned first and foremost. When I invest in a technology, the more that other users choose the same technology, the lower the risk. If the spare parts are standardised on top of that, I'm basically safe.

tec.news: Looking at new technologies raises the question of whether the future needs different standards than those of today?

Dr. Stephan Middelkamp:

It’s perfectly normal for a saturation level of standards to be reached at some later point in time. New technologies are creating new possibilities, so taking the step to the next level in the innovation cycle is necessary. This becomes clear in the following analogy: man learned to fly and produced the innovation "airplane" out of this. Its dissemination was followed by the production of variations – freight aircraft, passenger aircraft, which have become larger and faster over the years. No massive changes have taken place since then. In order to initiate another phase of innovation here, for instance, drone technology would have to be further developed in this direction. Behind every standard is an idea, and behind every idea are creative minds who have implemented this idea.

An idea alone is not enough.

Dr. Andreas Starke, General Manager Intellectual Property

Dr. Andreas Starke:

It’s important to emphasise here that an idea alone is not enough. Because, beyond just the idea alone you need investment and engineering to create new products. Only then can standards be established in the market.

tec.news: How has HARTING positioned itself?

Dr. Andreas Starke:

Our minds play a key role in the identity of our company. They’ve created standards such as our Han® connectors – which have been in use for generations – and are visible in the area of PushPull circular connector systems, and have launched the RJ Industrial as an industrial variant of the RJ45.

Dr. Stephan Middelkamp:

We’re also well positioned in the context of future technological changes and their respective challenges, and we will continue to set standards. Our commitment to E mobility and data centres is just as important as the IoT (Internet of Things) area, where we’re establishing new connectors. For us as a technology group, our focus is on access to the market and proximity to the customer. These factors distinguish us in order to generate benefits and promote standards together with the user in the application.

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