PI Innovation: New Impulses, Trends, and Technologies

Luzius Amelung, Managing Director of PI Innovation, is convinced: You cannot plan innovations. They need freedom to be able to unfold. Once an innovation has been identified as such and its development potential has been established, it can be planned and processes can be implemented. To be able to promote both the opportunity for innovative work and the implementation of the ideas at PI, the PI Innovation GmbH was founded as an "external staff unit" for innovation.

What triggered the foundation of PI Innovation?
Digitalization and the requirements of Industry 4.0 require that PI rethink its position. Agile management, i.e. agile processes are needed – this means PI needs to rethink many aspects. It is important to maintain our core business since PI depends on it. At the same time, we need to transfer it into the future, into the digital world. We must have the courage to question and also change the current status. Only then will we be able to do the right things at the right time and with foresight. The real challenge in a company is, therefore, not to implement new technologies, but to create a culture that recognizes and sets trends and to lay the foundations for such a culture. PI Innovation has been given this important task and we are happy to contribute to the success of PI in the future.

What is your personal motivation as a Managing Director and as a long-standing member of the PI family?
I am profoundly convinced of PI and the people behind it. I am committed to ensuring that the company has a strong future – because we already have everything necessary for that. This was my motivation for leaving behind my position as Managing Director of PI miCos and venturing into this experiment. A very exciting task!

How is an innovation-friendly culture going to be set in place at PI?
To this end, we definitely need the support of all PI employees worldwide. Our team in Freiburg will only give impulses to the PI Group and propose processes or tools. We will examine technologies on their effectiveness and suitability for the company and we will present them to the management. The execution and implementation of our suggestions, however, depends on the Executive Board and on the employees.

What is the current status and what are the next steps for PI Innovation?
We started in October of last year, and by now have conducted interviews as well as internal and external workshops that have given us answers to the following questions: What does innovation mean? How do we deal with innovation at PI? How can our organization interface with PI? How can we involve and motivate employees to shape the company in a way that promotes sustainable innovation?
We will start with headquarters in Karlsruhe by implementing certain processes here and, if they work, we want to roll them out at other locations. PI Karlsruhe must not become a secluded island; we want to be globally interconnected!

What do the processes or measures you want to implement at PI look like?
First, we will implement our organizational structures in the subsidiaries. We will set up an Innovation Board that is made of employees who make sure that the innovation culture can be mapped out at the subsidiaries: The board manages ideas from various sources and makes sure that the developmental processes are transparently mapped and ultimately implemented.
Controlling is done with the help of a strategic radar that records all projects which reach us from our network worldwide. This is how we literally keep projects on the radar, from the initial idea to product maturity.
Innovation labs are an additional key element for our project: Agile labs for certain developments at the respective locations, in which the ideas retained on the strategy radar are implemented independent of day-to-day business.
In addition, we are going to carry out workshops, improve the PI activities in important networks, and organize events such as Hackathons or Tech Dinners.

Which trends do you consider relevant for PI?
Universal topics such as Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence, and Digital Factory are a part of digitalization. Medical and communication technology are ultimately markets in which we see many promising trends. For the PI Group, automation is, of course, important, specifically in areas such as machine-to-machine, predictive maintenance, and self-adjusting controllers.

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