BMI EMBA Visit - Innovation and Industrie 4.0


This July, 24 EMBA students & alumni as well as Jaunius Pusvaskis, Director General BMI, and Jurga Bendikaitė Ursavas, Director EMBA program BMI, came to Germany for a three-day special module Innovation and Industrie 4.0.

The Baltic Management Institute (BMI) is a new cooperation partner of the THM MBA program.

The special module was a first step of the cooperation between the two programs with more to come (and to be announced soon). THM MBA students & alumni also joined the program and took the opportunity to take part in this extracurricular, value-adding event.


Prof. Dr. Joachim Sandt, co- director of the THM MBA program picked up the BMI participants at Frankfurt airport. With a chartered bus the group went to its first out of many company visits: Limtronik GmbH. The company is a market leader for Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS). Its core competence lies in the manufacturing of customized electronic PCBs and individual systems. Gerd Ohl, Managing Director and one of the owners, welcomed the group and explained the concept of Industrie 4.0 Limtronik is a so-called Smart Electronic Factory - an information and demonstration platform for Industry 4.0 which is implemented in a real electronics factory. After that, Mr. Ohl and Andreas Pletz, Head of Quality Management, gave a tour through the Smart Factory. The Participants were able get a direct impression how production processes are digitalized.


After Limtronik the group went on to Wetzlar to visit LEICA Camera. The company invented the first portable camera in 1916 and is famous for its design (even used by Steve Jobs from Apple as a reference). After lunch Boris Bender, Head of Retail Design, and a real aficionado of the company and its products, gave an overview of the history and developments of LEICA. The group visited the LEICA exhibition showing cameras and famous LEICA photos (for instance the photo of Che Guevara) and was allowed to see parts of the shop floor. Frank Offermanns, Global Retail Director, explained the retail strategy of LEICA Camera and how the digitalization helps to establish a real customer-centric premium brand company.


The last stop of the first day was in nearby Heuchelheim at the Schunk Group. The group is owned by a foundation and is quite a contrast to capital-market driven companies. Martin Theimer and Fabian Förster, responsible for management accounting at one of the four divisions of Schunk, Sinter Metals, introduced the company, its special characteristics and the business model of Sinter Metals, e.g. in the automotive industry. Mr. Johannes Edelmann and Mr. Steiner, both working in R&D and former THM MBA students, guided the tours through the production process.
Afterwards the group went back to Frankfurt, its home base for the three-day stay in Germany. For dinner, the group went to a typical Äppelwoi Kneipe in Sachsenhausen – the pub district of Frankfurt. The participants did not only consume a lot of information but also used the opportunity for networking and just having fun.


On Friday, the group went to Continental, one of the top-five automotive suppliers with more than 215,000 employees worldwide and almost € 40 bn sales revenues in 2015 (Schunk Sinter Metals, visited on the first day, is one of the suppliers of Continental). Continental consists of two subgroups – the rubber group and the automotive group. The latter consists of three divisions. The Safety & Chassis division has its headquarter in Frankfurt. First, the group was introduced to Continental. After that there was a guided tour through the production facility which is almost completely automated. After lunch, Mr. Roach, responsible for the Industrie 4.0 initiative for the whole group, presented the implications of Industrie 4.0 for the automotive industry and Continental. He emphasized that the current bottleneck is getting computer and software specialists for doing the already planned projects.

The company visit in the afternoon was quite a contrast: Innovation in the banking industry. The group went to the start-up company Vaamo Finanz. Vaamo offers mobile apps, blogs and webinars providing information, in order to make and process investment decisions of private investors. Vaamo is a so-called fintech start-up. Financial technology companies use the opportunities offered by digital technology to reshape the financial service industry across all its segments (like PayPal revolutionizes payment services). Investments in fintech start-ups and companies have exploded over the last five years. In 2015, venture capitalists invested more than $13.8 bn worldwide. Lots of countries have started some initiatives to become the hub of their region, Frankfurt being one of them.
Carolyn Breitenstein, Head of Marketing, explained the business model of Vaamo. There were lively discussions as some of the participants also work in the financial industry and all are interested in private, easy-to-access investment opportunities.

The second day ended with a city tour through Frankfurt and a dinner in the Hauptwache – the ancient building of the old city guards. Almost all went for a night cap at the Opernplatzfest, a street festival in front of the old opera house.

On Saturday the group went to the MBA campus in Friedberg. Prof. Dr. Gerrit Sames, THM Business School, gave an impressive presentation on current developments concerning Industrie 4.0 with many questions from the participants. It was followed by a presentation of Martin Heinz, General Manager at iTAC Software and MBA alumnus. iTAC Software provides MES – Manufacturing Execution Systems – a basis for Industrie 4.0 companies. The software company was acquired by the Dürr Group in 2015 as a basis for its Industrie 4.0 strategy. Dürr is a large tool manufacturing company with € 3.7 bn sales and 14,850 employees. A buffet with more opportunities to network finished the module.
The visit was the kick-off of the cooperation between the THM MBA program and the BMI. There are more events to follow that add value to the MBA programs at THM Business School and BMI, e.g., in May 2017 a group of THM MBA students and alumni will travel to Vilnius.


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