Automation User Conference Yokogawa User Conference in Berlin: A Tradition of Innovation

Author / Editor: Gerd Kielburger* / Dominik Stephan

The slogan “The Power of Innovation” set the course for Yokogawa’s seventh European user conference in Berlin, Germany. – The Japanese process automation specialist had invited delegates from customer branches and business partners to discuss topics from functional safety, wireless, safety & security and energy management right through to the use of augmented reality for maintenance and repair. But the host company found room to address critical points.

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(Bild: JiSign – Fotolia)

Identifying trends, discussing problems and promoting technologies — conventions have become an established forum for automation companies. At Yokogawa’s 2014 user conference in Berlin, the theme “The Power of Innovation” was seen as both chance and obligation: More than 180 delegates had registered for the event, where they learned of new development trends as well as of the Japanese company’s plans for its European subsidiary. Which roadmap will Yokogawa follow to win customer appreciation — especially for its platform technology?

At the same time, the event reminded of a crowdsourcing platform for the development of Yokogawa products — a view that was shared by Robert Ytsma of the Dutch firm Kisuma Chemicals, who chaired this year’s user convention. As such, it was an important event for the enterprise, which celebrates its centenary in next year and has always been defined to a great extent by product and technology innovations, as emphasized by the high-carat management who travelled to the event.

Increasing Market Share

The management also adopted a frank and forthright stance to trade press questions. Herman van den Berg, President of Yokogawa Europe, put matters bluntly to the surprise of his listeners: “Our current market share figures are far from meeting our expectations and there are industries in which our position leaves a lot to be desired,” he said. The Japanese parent firm evidently sees challenges to growth in the European market and, first and foremost, in the German market.

Given the clear message and the call to increase market share, however, Yokogawa could as well emphasise other sectors, such as energy, cement, paper and even food. The main focus will be on energy management, with plans to win more ground in the different applications, Yokogawa confirmed.

Having set up a new Solution Service unit, the aims are to step up engineering and maintenance services in addition to energy management services and to offer services throughout the whole life cycle as well as in process analytics or advanced process control.