Over more than thirty years PANMOBIL develops mobile barcode and RFID scanner for the optical non-contact data capturing. Numerous international large companies of industry and commerce trust the innovative devices of cologne middle class company, which still competes with its products “Made in Germany” with the apparently powerful American and Asian competitors. Which role the combination of PANMOBIL scanner and iPhone or iPad plays, and what kind of challenges the industry has to face, explains PANMOBIL CEO Peter Schmidt in the interview.
What do your Scanner and the Apple devices have in common?
“Let’s take a look at someone, who knew right from the beginning how it works: let’s take a look at Steve Jobs! What was his supreme goal? To build devices for people, who don’t have any experience with IT what so ever. He wanted to develop devices for users who capture data, who have to write letters, who want to communicate, without having to study IT or having any affinity to the medium computer but who can just use it. The iPhone is the best example that he managed to do it: It has just one button, even that was one too many for Steve Jobs. If you compare this to the present AutoID tools of the company PANMOBIL, then you will see that they exactly follow his basic idea: the best solution works only out of the perfect combination of your own software and hardware and without the need for any additional computer interaction.”
How can the user profit from this fusion of the PANMOBIL technology?
"Keyword: Easy! You can profit using the AutoID tools from PANMOBIL as it is a naturally given tool. A tool as if you always had in your hands, because you can operate it intuitively. Even though it is been used in the professional data capturing in the high end logistics, wherein the data in the distance are transmitted beyond the globe. Nobody has to worry anymore how that works. We take over with our integrated Middleware of the PANMOBIL EMMware with SCOUTtechnology.”
In your opinion what is the next step in the development of the AutoID technology?
"This next step is already reality for us. In the past all partitions of the AutoID were separated from each other, you only spoke of barcode, or only of RFID, keyboard,
chip card. All of this will be united in one compact tool in the future, as we can already experience in smartphones. There we already have AutoID projections with barcode/RFID apps for example. Ok now you can say: Hey than we already arrived there with smartphones! –No! We are still far from it! Observing the user –everybody has smartphones- but reading barcode or RFID with it, basically nobody does that, because it is still to complicated. With a barcode app and a smartphone it is really difficult to solve professional and logistic assignments. Therefore the smartphones are really slow and laborious in scanning. That is why using smartphones for industry and logistics to capture data are NOT the next step for AutoID. You will still use professional AutoID scanner in the future. And that is exactly where our approach is: To simplify the AutoID scanner even more. The problem is as follows: it is trendy, to by a new smartphone every year, if you need it or not doesn’t matter. It means for everybody that you have to rethink into the operating processes. It doesn’t matter if it is to listen to music or an email, but let us start from the important processes, data safety and payment. At the moment that is strongly accelerated. You want to get away from cash, preferably just using credit cards or pay with your mobile phone. Now imagine you would buy a new phone every year. Then you have to learn the procedure of the admission of your phone and the method of paying from the beginning. And that can be it! That is too complicated. With a new car model you don’t have to learn where the brakes are with every new version. So where is the future going? One AutoID device for all users and that forever, as long as the device lasts. And not only 1-6 years. If I carry the device with me all the time and –now I will be totally fantastic- even if I carry the device under my skin, our goal: that the user always carry the device with them and always come clear with it. When I once know how to operate it, I always will and don’t need to rethink. That is exactly what promotes the logistic processes in long term."
Is your company prepared for this next AutoID step?
"Now this is a little secret. I have to lower my voice to keep talking. There are some things in development and already patent registered in this direction we think and proceed. The step for PANMOBIL away from B2B- to B2C Business is obvious. A few things need time to become good. It is a surprise."
Where are your biggest sales markets at this point?
“Definitely the logistic area. With the trend going towards our establishment in the industry. As you already know now a days we not only talk about Industry 4.0, we also talk about Werker 4.0. The Werker 4.0 is actually the missing link in the Industry 4.0 chain that nobody thinks about. Everybody just thinks about the production machine, the manufacturing, the logistics, but nobody thinks about the how to include single worker who plays a major role in the “production on demand”. That is exactly where we come in. We don’t do that by our own we have many research projects with our partners with whom we develop in the same direction. PANMOBIL continues following the logistics, but we also hold the biggest market share in catalogue scanning. That means the automatic ordering out of the catalogue or the consumed product will be an area which we will strengthen. We want to simplify and concentrate the ordering system and besides the logistics we want to integrate our Werker 4.0 in all EPR systems in the industry. From SAP to Navision and others to offer them the simplest technology, too. Everything for the user who is actually not made for IT. Our philosophy – PANMOBIL always a bit smarter!”
Are you afraid of the competition of the Far East?
“Yes! When we are to slow then I have to be afraid, but because we are faster the copying doesn’t actually make sense for the smart Chinese. He could copy the frame, but the IT know how in the inside, which not only exists out of building bricks is not something he could just copy. It is the know how of it all, the software, it lives he could copy that as a snap shot, but not the maintenance, the permanent assimilation to the daily changing IT environment! The difference between the devices from Far East and devices from PANMOBIL is, that the continuous development not only happens in the device itself, like capturing data faster or pips faster and so on, but to retain the junction to the continuously increasing system environments. Which means when Windows makes a change we are already included yet before Windows release it for the wide mass. The Chinese don’t care about that, they only want their devices to read faster and be cheaper. But the essential difference lies in the whole package, in the reliability. That only we can offer!”
Which chances do you see for the German middle class to keep up long-term with the cheaper competition, like from China?
“When a company thinks clear than it is a short-term decision to decide for the cheaper systems, instead of the system which is directed forwards. We will shortly bring systems to the market, which will tell you previously self-restoring, if you have mistakes in your application, if you are using the wrong barcode, or are not fast enough completing processes in your own company. Which means our devices not only consist of scanning, but also are 100% computers – computers which build the essential base to provide complex information for the user and investor. “
Will PANMOBIL carry a leading role in the Industry 4.0?
“We will work on it. If we will carry a leading role is the question of “ What is leading?” does it mean “ the biggest sales volume with Industry 4.0 solutions”, or “develop the highest technological degree” ? Or even to have the most clever solution to weld the existing, big machine parks, which touch the Industry 4.0 together”? We will carry a leading role in exactly that point in between what Industry 4.0 constitutes of today. In fact to reconsolidate machines and humans in the manufacture under interactive cooperation to a harmonic production process. Since meanwhile in this area we progressed really far, I assume that we definitely will have a leading role shortly in this area when Industry 4.0 engages properly, which is not going to be from one day on another, even if everybody is talking about it. That is our goal.”