“Feeding technology” — Never heard of it? It’s important! The founders of Hofmann & Stirner told us why:
1. Who are you and what do you do? Please briefly introduce yourselves and your business!
Daniel first completed vocational training in Ingolstadt and then continued his education in mechanical engineering at the Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences (Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt – THI) and got his PhD at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Florian is also from Ingolstadt and studied mechanical engineering & management at TUM. We had known each other since we were little kids and just happened to meet up again about twenty years later at TUM.
Almost all products are manufactured using automation. Getting a large number of correctly oriented, individual components into a production system is the core task of feeding technology. Without feeding technology, automated production doesn’t exist. We’ve developed innovative machine architecture for just that, which we equip by using digital twins and AI. We use it to build flexible, high-performance feeding systems for 26 target industries.
Hofmann & Stirner: Significantly faster than the competition
2. But that’s nothing out of the box!
Said the cell phone to the smartphone and the gas car to the electric car. The existing vibrating conveyor technology, which is predominantly made as a welded construction, has been made the same way since the mid-1960s. Every feeding system is a unique system based on trial and error that only works for one specific manufactured product. While these types of systems are very powerful, they aren’t flexible and are often susceptible to malfunctioning. On the other hand, industrial robots are extremely flexible, but when it comes to feeding performance, they are slower by a factor of 5 to 10.
We’ve managed to decipher the physics behind vibrating conveyor technology and have developed innovative machine architecture using digital twins. It comprises a standardized base frame and interchangeable tooling for parts feeding. It allows us to increase performance by more than 350 percent and flexibility with tooling times that are less than two minutes. Thanks to digital physics, we can deliver our feeding systems up to three months earlier than our competitors, and that’s with zero hours needed for set up. In the future, we plan to extensively automate the tooling development process using AI based on the data from our digital twins.
“The demand situation is good”
3. What are the three main ingredients in your recipe for success?
The first factor is something we have no control over, but we’re happy it exists — market pull. Although feeding systems are a key technology in production, they have been neglected for decades. The core production processes have continued to develop, but feeding technology has stood still. With our approach using digital mechanical engineering and AI, we’ll be satisfying a backlogged market need.
Another factor in our success is our international team. The technological challenges we face are demanding and appeal to people from all over the world. With our different perspectives, we often find creative solutions.
In short: technical excellence instead of bullshit bingo.
Hofmann & Stirner are active in a market worth billions
4. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: How is business going?
Our startup with two founders has turned into a company with nine employees within a very short time period. In addition to our innovation lab / headquarters in Munich, we also have production space in Ingolstadt. That’s where we’ll be establishing series production of our products. The demand situation is good, which is why we’ve postponed our plans for mid-2019 to find a sales colleague until 2020 for now. We’re very satisfied with the current situation.
5. What does Munich mean to you?
Our international team is naturally not only interested in technological tasks; Munich’s appeal also plays a major role when choosing a location. From our point of view, we also think Munich provides an exceptional infrastructure for starting a company in Germany.
6. How will your startup become the next unicorn? Or will we be seeing you at an Epic Fail Night soon?
We don’t see future production using last century’s technology. And that’s a market worth billions.
7. Isar or English Garden?