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An Interview with Ulrich Hempen


At the 77th general meeting of NAMUR in 2014, WAGO presented DIMA (Decentralized Intelligence for Modular Applications). DIMA is a pioneering solution for the decentralized, modular automation of process systems. Now, six months later, Ulrich Hempen, WAGO’s Head of Market Management Industry & Process, talks about the strategies that WAGO will pursue in the process industry and the role DIMA will have.

Mr. Hempen, at the general meeting of NAMUR, WAGO presented DIMA, a methodology for automating modular processing systems that received a high level of interest within the sector. Six months later, what is the DIMA's status?

"Regarding the methodology, the NAMUR interest group decided in spring to accept the DIMA approach and to further develop it with ZVEI, Germany’s Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association. NAMUR and ZVEI plan on presenting the results of their joint effort at the next general meeting of NAMUR in November 2015."

"For WAGO, presenting DIMA to the industry was a milestone. And, it has increased awareness about our company in the process industry. This is a golden opportunity for us to permanently increase and expand our position within the process industry."

Where exactly do you see WAGO fitting in the process industry?

"I see WAGO as a full-range supplier for process automation."

A full-range supplier? What do you mean by that? Is WAGO going to surprise us in November 2015 at the next NAMUR general meeting with a full-range process technology system?

"No, definitely not. We have no intention of leaving our position of expertise and switching to systems engineering. As a fullrange supplier, I specifically mean, 'WAGO is a full-range supplier for process automation.' That means we supply a full range of products for both the field level — between sensors/actuators — and the higher-level processing level."

What does that mean specifically?

"Let’s start by looking at automation. DIMA was, and is proof, that we at WAGO have the components and tools needed to completely overcome the challenges posed by NAMUR’s Recommendation NE 148. Our WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750 and our new e!COCKPIT engineering tool have assumed essential roles."

"This is not by chance. The WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM is particularly well-suited to process technology because the couplers and controllers are fieldbus-independent and are supplemented by more than 500 different I/O modules — there is an appropriate I/O module available for almost any signal. Together with our power supply units, signal conditioning modules and signal isolators, we already have a comprehensive product portfolio for installations in process technology."

If you are already doing all of this, where is this new path supposed to lead WAGO?

"We are currently working to further develop our portfolio of automation and electrical technical components for the field level to better match needs in the process industry."

Which portfolio then are you diligently focusing on if you already offer a complete automation program for process technology?

"For us, it is very important to remain on the ball regarding current and future innovations. This allows us to readily adapt our new and continuing developments to specific challenges faced by the process industry. As a full-range supplier of electrical and electronic components for the field level in process technology, this covers our entire portfolio, beginning with rail-mounted terminal blocks, moving through our EPSITRON® Power Supplies and JUMPFLEX® Signal Conditioners, up to automation."

That sounds a bit like business as usual. How does this affect DIMA? Does the methodology play any role at WAGO or was it just a means to an end?

"DIMA remains — just as it was then — a very important topic, even if, or because, we have published the methodology for further collective development. Anyone who is familiar with DIMA knows that the success of this approach depends heavily on a solution to the vertical integration of current control systems."

Are you considering expanding WAGO’s product portfolio in this direction?

"Basically, integration solutions would qualify for this, as would pure software control systems. We are not considering something proprietary in this area — however, we are currently in discussions with potential partners to jointly close this gap."

Mr. Hempen, thank you very much for sharing your insight.

Text: Benjamin Boehm, Julia Grobe, WAGO
Photo: iStock.com, WAGO