Vemcon is a specialist in the control of mobile work machines and developed a control system which simplifies the handling of heavy machinery.
Vemcon’s core competence lies in the simplification of machine control through the combination of driver assistance and intuitive ergonomics as well as the use of self-learning software and customer cloud services. This allows a machine operator to work much more safely, faster and more accurately with their machine, and increases the productivity of the mobile work machine. On the road to semi-autonomous and autonomous work machines, the company uses expertise, experience and research in the areas of hardware, software and electronics. ESA BIC Manager Cornelia Gebath (CG) interviews Jan Rotard (JR), CEO at Vemcon.
CG: Please give us a sneak peek of your product and the team behind it.
JR: Vemcon GmbH is a pioneer in the simple control and automation of heavy machinery such as excavators, graders, wheel loaders, and agricultural and communal machines.
Our core competence is the simplification of machine control by combining intuitive ergonomics and driver assistance as well as using self-learning software and cloud services. This allows the machine operator to work much more safely, faster and more precisely.
The founders are driven by their passion for construction sites, excavators and other heavy, mobile machinery. They want to simplify the operation of the machines so that companies can significantly increase their productivity, counteract the shortage of skilled workers with easy-to-use machines and provide drivers with tools that offer mental and physical relief.
On the path from ergonomic joysticks to autonomous machinery, we need different expertise. That’s why our team combines four areas of competence: hydraulics, robotics, ergonomics and artificial intelligence.
CG: What has been your company’s biggest challenge so far?
JR: The most important thing is that you don’t stand still and you keep developing. Simple and intuitive control starts with an ergonomically optimised joystick. This marked the start in 2012. After some time on the market, we made a significant change of direction in our product strategy. We realised that we need to go beyond the 6-degrees-of-freedom joystick to evolve. With our Operator Assistant, we now go beyond the intuitive ergonomics of the joystick and now additionally offer the right driver assistance systems to automate machines. The biggest challenge was to steer the team in a new direction and to change the perception from outside.
CG: Can you explain the three main ingredients of your recipe for success?
JR: In our opinion, the following three main ingredients are valuable for success: You need a strong team that is burning for the cause and has enough stamina to tackle (new) challenges.
CG: What did you expect from ESA BIC Bavaria?
JR: ESA BIC Bavaria is very well-connected to the space industry and beyond. For us, the main focus lay on exchanging opinions with experts and gaining insights into their fields of research. We are grateful for the opportunity to network in the industry and especially for the introduction to new technologies.
CG: How did the initiative and its network help you to kick-start your business case?
JR: We have made valuable and interesting contacts through the ESA BIC in the past: For example, the monthly business breakfasts were very useful. Thanks to the network, we got to know our patent attorney, with whom we have already filed several patent and utility models. And we are also very grateful for making contact with the consultant with whom we have just successfully passed our ISO:9001 certification. We also gained access to potential investors.
CG: How did the DLR support you?
JR: DLR is a driving force for us. For example, it displays topics outside the construction industry that we can use as a starting point in our area of expertise.
CG: Let’s reach for the stars – what is going to happen in Vemcon’s future?
JR: We will continue to attract strong partners and excellent collaborators in order to continue our growth vision. We will transform heavy machinery into smart robots and become a global player in this area.
Did you enjoy this interview with the outstanding startup? Interested people can get into contact with Vemcon via mail. Stay tuned for upcoming interviews with ESA BIC Bavaria startups on our AZO Blog.