Air­bus not the only one to be impres­sed by digi­tal check­lists for indus­try from

The Pots­dam-based com­pa­ny nxt­Ba­se wins one pri­ze after the other. How come? By offe­ring digi­tal, vir­tu­al check­lists. But what exact­ly does nxt­Ba­se do? Cus­to­mers recei­ve data glas­ses, so-cal­led smart glas­ses into which com­pa­nies can enter their check­lists, e.g. tho­se for che­cking air­craft doors or rail­way wagons. With the­se smart glas­ses, warehouse­men, fit­ters or ser­vice tech­ni­ci­ans can pro­cess digi­tal lists step by step, with their hands free. “What and whe­re should that go?” “Is this the right com­po­nent?” “How did we do that again?” The smart glas­ses have ans­wers to all of the­se ques­ti­ons. Moreo­ver, ever­y­thing can be docu­men­ted with the came­ra. Employees stan­ding in front of a machi­ne can be shown the various com­pon­ents - inclu­ding desi­gna­ti­ons – via WLAN. For exam­p­le, if some­bo­dy has to inspect the door on an air­craft with hundreds of com­pon­ents, the glass will tells them what to inspect and in what order. If a part is in order, the next step will then fol­low. If not, the employee can find out step by step what the mat­ter is. If he was to look at plans, he would have to keep tur­ning around each time. And the­re also would­n’t be any docu­men­ta­ti­on of what he did and how he did it. “This check is important for our cus­to­mers - for ins­tance, in the aero­space or rail­way indus­tries,” says Jörg Jonas-Kops. “It’s like TÜV, it has to be a real check. With our solu­ti­on, the per­son pla­cing the order knows whe­re there’s a snag in the pro­cess. The glass can also be used, for exam­p­le, to check whe­ther a spa­re part for the part that has to be remo­ved is available in the warehouse or has to be ordered. 

The check­lists can be deploy­ed in all kinds of indus­tries. “It’s like a tele­promp­ter which I can still talk to and it will ans­wer ques­ti­ons,” says Jörg Jonas-Kops. “I can view pic­tures and vide­os and com­ple­te ins­truc­tions. Then I can deci­de: is it good or not good?” Smart­Glass is also useful for the onboar­ding pro­cess. It shows new employees what they have to do and how. In addi­ti­on, the­re is the pos­si­bi­li­ty of remo­te sup­port. For ins­tance, if an employee is stan­ding in front of a switch box, he can be gui­ded by ano­ther per­son who is loca­ted some­whe­re else in the world. 

Whoe­ver wants to test nxt­Ba­se solu­ti­ons can do this quick­ly and in a straight­for­ward man­ner. This can be done within a day. nxt­Ba­se sim­ply reads in the customer’s Excel check­list and the cus­to­mer can alre­a­dy get star­ted working the fol­lo­wing day and pro­ces­sing their check­lists using voice con­trol. The cos­ts for this are kept within reasonable limits. A work­shop is included in the pri­ce. The second and third steps are then more indi­vi­dua­li­sed. The solu­ti­on can be docked on to the Enter­pri­se Resour­ce Plan­ning soft­ware and ana­ly­ses can be per­for­med. In 2018, the Inter­na­tio­nal Aero­space Exhi­bi­ti­on in Ber­lin saw the com­pa­ny team up with its cus­to­mer Pre­mi­um Aero­tec (a 100% Air­bus sub­si­dia­ry) to win the Ger­man Aero­space Inno­va­ti­on Award in the cate­go­ry for “Indus­try 4.0” - and even reach the finals the­re yet again in 2019. In addi­ti­on, the jury of the MTH Acce­le­ra­tor has recent­ly deci­ded to sup­port nxt­Ba­se. The Pots­dam start­up also beat off com­pe­ti­ti­on from 70 other start­ups to win the Foun­der Pri­ze at the Forum Kied­rich start­up mar­ket. Moreo­ver, the com­pa­ny is curr­ent­ly invol­ved in a major rese­arch and deve­lo­p­ment pro­ject backed by the BMWi tog­e­ther with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Pots­dam, and nxt­Ba­se was sel­ec­ted by a jury con­sis­ting of Fraun­ho­fer Ven­ture, High Tech Grün­der­fond and VDI/VDE for the FMD Space of the Fraun­ho­fer Insti­tu­te. The result is an ultra­so­nic sen­sor which checks whe­ther the bon­ding of panes to tracks and air­planes is still in order. Until now, the panes had to be smas­hed in order to see if this was the case. nxt­Ba­se can con­nect the sen­sor to its sys­tem so that an ultra­sound image then shows the bon­ding. “That’s some­thing that nobo­dy else in the world had been able to do until now,” says Jörg Jonas-Kops. This means that ano­ther item on the track inspec­tion check­list can be ticked off. 

nxtBase’s cus­to­mers include Swiss Rail­ways SBB Car­go Inter­na­tio­nal, Ham­burg Port Aut­ho­ri­ty, MAN and Deut­sche Bahn, as well as Fuji­tsu and the Air­bus sub­si­dia­ry Pre­mi­um Aero­tec. An important coope­ra­ti­on part­ner is Haen­el, a mar­ket lea­der for lifts. The office in the Start-up and Tech­no­lo­gy Cent­re is loca­ted right next to Stu­dio Babels­berg and clo­se to the uni­ver­si­ty and the Has­so Platt­ner Insti­tu­te. Stu­dio Babels­berg is home to Volu­cap, a com­pa­ny from the Media­Tech Hub Pots­dam; it will be embar­king on a coope­ra­ti­on with nxt­Ba­se in the near future. Moreo­ver, Jörg Jonas-Kops is plea­sed about the pro­xi­mi­ty to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Pots­dam with whom nxt­Ba­se is col­la­bo­ra­ting on seve­ral rese­arch pro­jects. He also app­re­cia­tes the pro­xi­mi­ty to the Has­so Platt­ner Institute. 

In fact, nxt­Ba­se was crea­ted after Jörg Jonas-Kops, who ori­gi­nal­ly comes from the real estate sec­tor, beca­me a “Goog­le Appro­ved Sales Chan­nel” for Goog­le Glas­ses in 2013 after he had made a pitch to Goog­le. He sold around 150 of the­se glas­ses. The IT mana­ger of MAN also cont­ac­ted him at the time. He wan­ted the glas­ses - and a sui­ta­ble appli­ca­ti­on to go with it as well. When the pro­ject actual­ly came to frui­ti­on, Jonas-Kops quit his old job - to dedi­ca­te hims­elf enti­re­ly to the new task. He docked Goog­le Glass on to SAP, which was a novel­ty at the time. A fri­end advi­sed the man from Colo­gne to come to Pots­dam to set up his com­pa­ny - also becau­se of the ERDF fun­ding from the ILB. Jörg Jonas-Kops fol­lo­wed the advice - and has been firm­ly estab­lished in the Media­Tech Hub Potsdam’s cos­mos ever since.

by Eva Werner

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About MTH Blog

The media technologies of the future are already being used today – not only in the entertainment sector, but also in a wide variety of industries. Christine Lentz meets up with tech enthusiasts, established companies and researchers for our monthly MediaTech Hub Potsdam blog to tell the stories behind the innovative business models.