Imbema acquires strategic stake in tech company Dent IoT
We’re entering what has been dubbed the 4th Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0. Factories are becoming smarter and capable of managing themselves autonomously. Where once entire teams of operators were necessary to keep an eye on gauges and flashing lights and operate all kinds of knobs and sliders 24/7, machines and devices are able to control the process themselves in the new era. Not only is this more efficient, it’s a whole lot safer too.
We spoke with Koos Verkleij and Niels Stamhuis, who is the founder of Dent IoT and its managing director, and asked them about IoT and Imbema's role in collaboration with Dent.
Koos, can you explain what IoT means and why everyone is talking about it?
Koos: "IoT stands for Internet of Things, which basically means all kinds of important devices that exchange data with each other over the internet. The data these devices send is related to their operation. We can use this data to help make processes more efficient, safe, and reliable. In my opinion, it goes beyond mere automation.
An example: tyre pressure sensors aren’t fitted to cars to sell more air, they are tools which help keep the pressure in tyres optimal. As a result, they reduce fuel consumption and boost safety and comfort."
Which customers are looking for IoT solutions?
Koos: "These days, we can all see the current shipping status of an order via track & trace. That shows how normal we find it to have information from IoT at our disposal. The active demand for IoT solutions, however, comes mainly from our customers who handle valuable assets or infrastructure, or who need to guarantee quality and safety in the chain. Examples include telematics or track & trace solutions in our Transport & Logistics division. Others who benefit from these solutions are drinking water and network companies, customers of our Energy & Industry divisions, who need insight into the status of their infrastructure every second of the day."
Why does Imbema want to play a more prominent role in the field of IoT?
Koos: "For over 75 years, Imbema has dedicated its efforts to delivering inventive and intelligent solutions, reinforced by our deep passion for technology and drive to invent alternatives. With these solutions, Imbema helps its customers, plays a part in solving major social issues such as the energy transition and safe, sustainable transport. Solutions that are also used to precisely monitor critical gas and drinking water infrastructure. Online and data-driven work is increasingly playing a crucial role in this respect."
Niels, you’re from Dent IoT. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Niels: "Yes, I’m Niels Stamhuis, and I’ve been an entrepreneur in and around Rotterdam for almost 10 years. After finishing a course in integrated product design at TU Delft, I quickly found a job at RDM Rotterdam in the Innovation Dock where I helped all kinds of companies learn about the potential of Industry 4.0 and technology such as IoT, robotics, machine learning and digital manufacturing. Together with two business partners, I set up a number of companies that have bridged the gap between these technologies and the business market. I threw myself fully into Dent IoT, where I deploy my passion for innovation and urge to do things better than the status quo using the tools provided by new technology."
What kind of company is Dent IoT, and what’s it known for?
Niels: "You might know Dent from our Multisensor. This is a small and handy wireless sensor packed with technology, which can be embedded easily in any business operation. It’s a kind of Swiss army knife for collecting data about equipment and processes. Our core activity is providing our customers with end-to-end monitoring systems for their business assets and processes. These include track & trace localisation services for mobile business assets, machine wear measurement systems for predictive maintenance, remote management solutions for infrastructure, and installations and measurement networks for groundwater. We usually try to use suppliers' standard products, but if the requested solution doesn’t exist or the customer wants a white label solution, we offer custom product development."
Can you give some details about Imbema's participation in this Rotterdam venture?
Niels: "The partnership with Imbema operates on several layers. In the first place, we’re going to exploit the knowledge and expertise of Dent's team to continuously develop solutions over the next few years, such as wireless monitoring, remote management, and smart meters and locks. After these solutions have been carefully tested and finalised with customers, Dent will arrange manufacturing, certification, and delivery of the end-to-end system. That will include the hardware, associated connectivity, and online IoT cloud platform. Imbema can then rely on a single permanent supplier for all its monitoring needs, putting it into a position to consistently and optimally meet the needs of its customers in the future and maintain a competitive edge."
Imbema already has its own product development department, so what’s the thinking behind this approach?
Koos: "Our Product Development division mainly works on elaborating mechanical solutions and electronic designs. Dent, on the other hand, specialises in the development and production of sensors, embedded hardware and firmware, integrated connectivity, and online cloud environments, including IoT environments. By joining forces, we can provide our customers with all the knowledge and skills needed for an end-to-end solution."
How will Dent's expertise be integrated into the Imbema organisation?
Koos: "Dent is located in the Innovation Dock at RDM Rotterdam, the former Rotterdam Dry Dock Company which is now an innovation incubator. That makes a very interesting place to be and get inspiration for Imbema. I’ll be taking colleagues and Imbema customers to Dent to introduce them to the company in the near future. We’ll share our expertise with each other regularly."
What can Dent learn from Imbema?
Niels: "Imbema possesses a wealth of knowledge and talent; the tender desk for submitting market bids is just one example. In addition, the E&I and T&L divisions are highly knowledgeable and experienced, and Imbema has a loyal customer network it can rely on. These are things Dent can use to develop valuable products for Imbema's customers. We should also remember that Imbema's professionals will increasingly have to deal with monitoring systems in practice and experience their direct benefits as we move towards the future."
Are there already initiatives underway to develop solutions together?
Koos: "Absolutely; the Corroguard, an application for monitoring systems that protect against corrosion, developed by Dent. We have a list of initiatives from both our divisions which we will now take on together."
Is there still space for new initiatives?
Koos: "Yes, we’ve got plenty of spare capacity to develop other solutions. We can also take on specific projects for clients."