In Munich, Karlsruhe, Nuremberg, Vienna, and Princeton, the picture was the same: a packed room, concentrated faces, and intense conversations. During the Siemens Hackathon Days, which were held in late January across all divisions under the motto “Digitalization & Innovation,” participants worked on concepts and projects aimed at opening up new business opportunities for Siemens within the framework of the company’s digital businesses.
Two days, five locations, 1,700 participants from 61 countries. During the Siemens Hackathon Days, Siemens employees worked under high pressure to develop concepts and projects aimed at strengthening the company’s digital service business.
A First for a DAX-Listed Company
The participants — over 700 on site and 1,000 taking part virtually — came from 61 countries. They had submitted more than 800 ideas before the hackathon began, and in the course of the two-day event they worked in 300 groups to refine these ideas. The event became the biggest hackathon in the company’s history — and the first one to be organized on a global scale by a DAX-listed company.
The Hackathon Days were organized by #iDea, an internal startup company at Siemens that supports the company’s employees as they develop their innovative ideas. Patrick Pernegger, who heads #iDea, and Hannes Apitzsch, Head of Siemens Global Services, emphasized the significance of the event for Siemens. “The greatest advantage we get from this event is related to the fact that each of us has strong skills and many areas of expertise that we bring to our daily work. At this event, we can connect our different skills and thus boost them up to a very high level,” explained Apitzsch. Even Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser took time out to look in on the Hackathon taking place in Munich.
Once the event was over, Siemens employees had three weeks to evaluate the results online and vote for their favorites among 150 promising concepts and prototypes. More than 19,000 votes were cast to determine which six projects would reach the final round. At the end of March, the developers of these six projects will make their final presentations to a panel of jury members. But regardless of which project wins, all of the entries illustrate how much potential and creativity can be released by such an event — and how innovative conceptual approaches can be developed in less than 48 hours through teamwork alone. The event also illustrates how hackathons promote the company’s entrepreneurial culture across organizational and hierarchical levels, for everyone ranging from trainees to managers, programmers, and designers.
And the Finalists Are…
Replenishing Production Materials at the Click of a Button
Like the Dash buttons at Amazon, a touchscreen or a button located directly at a production rack can be used to automatically activate a repeat order of kanban material in SAP. This dash button uses LEDs to show the status of an order. Equipped with a WLAN module and software that is easy to configure, the system can be used flexibly and adapted to rapidly changing alterations in a product’s components and materials.
Innovation for Best-in-Class Inventory Management
The creation of a central platform for sharing inventories reduces stocking times, lowers warehousing costs, and avoids unnecessary capital commitment. Every department highlights the items in its inventory that it does not need at the moment in various SAP/ERP systems. The stock then automatically appears in a central database, thus making otherwise unused assets visible that might be needed at other locations within a company. Before an order for materials is placed, a buyer can check the database and decide whether to procure the necessary materials in-house or to order them from an external supplier.
Smartphones “Hear” the Status of Appliances
Fault location via sound analysis: A smartphone app helps to decide whether a machine (such as a gear motor) is operating smoothly. First, sensors record the sounds or vibrations that are emitted. The app sends this recording to a server, which compares current values with target values and thus can indicate malfunctions early on.
Identifying Wrong-Way Drivers
An idea that can save lives: Technologies that already exist identify wrong-way driivers and transmit this information via a cloud system to smartphones, navigation systems or traffic guidance systems, thus warning other drivers of approaching danger.
End-User Applications for Indoor Navigation
An indoor navigation system for an office building can be useful in many ways. In an emergency situation the system, which was developed during the Hackathon Days, guides employees to a place of safety. During daily operations, it can, for example, help visitors orient themselves on the way to a meeting room.
Digital Rule Book
With the help of an intelligent dashboard, regulations that are relevant to a user are offered in a personalized form. As a result, different target groups receive the right information at the right time and can focus completely on their business activities. Because this concept focuses on the user’s individual needs, this technology will make the time-consuming search for regulations and directives on various rules and regulations platforms a thing of the past.