Michael Goh is the Managing Director at SICK Sensor Intelligence in Southeast Asia, a global sensor provider and market leader for intelligent sensor solutions. He is responsible for driving the sales and service operations in Southeast Asia, focusing on areas of process, factory, and logistics automation as well as Industry 4.0.
1. SICK is a well-known technology and market leader, providing sensor intelligence and application solution to keep the industry moving. What are SICK’s background and achievements?
SICK is one of the world’s leading suppliers of sensors and sensor solutions for industrial applications. The company, founded in 1946 by Dr. Erwin Sick, is a technology and market leader with a global presence – with over 50 subsidiaries, associated companies, and sales offices worldwide, achieving Group sales of about EUR 1.7 bn. during the 2020 fiscal year.
Today, we have more than 11,000 SICK employees worldwide, and all of us are constantly innovating and developing market sensor solutions for more sustainable businesses: Energy-efficient production and process control, timely logistical activities, improved accident prevention, and advanced solutions for the energy transition, among other things. Protecting the environment and people, securing stable jobs through long-term economic success, and making a contribution to society have been SICK’s sustainability philosophy since the company was founded. Everyone encounters SICK sensors almost daily. Our sensors ensure safe, efficient, and clean processes in the background while tailoring our solutions with the peoples’ requirements and process needs in mind. As our sensors develop and evolve over the years, data collected by sensors become increasingly important as they offer new growth potentials and permutations as a system solution, to help advance the current smart digital age and advance with the digitalization era, supplementary to the core business of sensor safety and production. SICK’s digital solutions – with serial products, systems, and services – are trailblazers for digitalization and Industry 4.0.
The SICK Singapore headquarters had just relocated to a high-tech park in the North of Singapore last year, in accommodation to our continuous growth - to facilitate and host our partners and customers better with a bigger space, and our new Experience Center. It is an exciting time for SICK Southeast Asia, as we are looking to expand our Malaysia KL office next!
2. What are the differences between a smart sensor and an intelligent sensor? Why does SICK opt for the latter?
A smart sensor is just a sensor that can generate and receive data from the environment, going beyond traditional switching signals or measured process parameters. But Intelligent sensors can carry out several intrinsically intelligent functions automatically, such as the ability to self-test, self-validate, self-adapt, and self-identify, based on their surroundings and circumstances. A smart sensor may have advanced features, but it may not have conditional functions which make it “intelligent.”
We combine our decades of experience and knowledge from being in the sensor market, with reliable software architecture, taking the functions and abilities of a smart sensor one step further into an intelligent sensor. Because we believe that an intelligent sensor will optimize production and control networks using complex algorithms, despite the challenges of processing ever-increasing volumes of data. We chose to build intelligent sensors because we believe that intelligence is the way to go.
3. Share with us how intelligent sensor works and how it helps the production and logistics systems in smart factories.
Central to the smart factory is the technology that makes data collection possible. These include the intelligent sensors, motors, and robotics present on production and assembly lines that the smart factory puts to use. Intelligent sensors make it possible to monitor specific processes throughout the factory, increasing the capability to be aware of what’s happening in smart factories on multiple levels at any given time. Making sensors more intelligent means the sensors are now able to record realtime operational statuses, turn those into digital data, organize and process them, and share the most optimal data or action automatically with the production or logistics process systems controller.
The degree of digitization, intelligence, and networking is set to increase continually in production and logistics systems until these systems can eventually control and optimize themselves autonomously. For example, vibration sensing can provide warnings when motors, bearings, or other equipment need to undergo maintenance. With these types of subtle warnings, they become alerts for preventative maintenance or other actions that head off larger production problems if left unattended.
4. How does SICK’s intelligent sensor help companies in achieving their environmental goals and minimize negative effects on the environment?
Sensors play a huge part in the positive impact of technology on the environment as they often play a vital role in the monitoring and reduction of harmful activities. A stable environment is what allows economic success in the long run and the economy is a subset of its environment. Committed to ecological sustainability at SICK, we move towards green sustainability, producing intelligent sensor technology to be used across a wide range of applications, tackling challenges to protect the climate, and mitigating environmental concerns.
As the sensors were built and the company was founded with safety and protection as its initial goal, it naturally expanded to the safety and protection of the environment, as our founder was a pioneer in environmental measurement technology. Today, we have sensors and systems that help companies to achieve their sustainability goals as well, by providing them with emission monitoring solutions and services.
We develop CO2 measuring devices for combustion and process plants, monitoring products for waste incineration plants, power, steel, and cement plants, oil, and gas industry applications, as well as for chemical and petrochemical plants, to help SICK customers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Together, these solutions make an important contribution to multiindustries to help them and protect our environment.
How does the idea of sustainability come forward? In your view, how can intelligent sensors help contribute to sustainability in a long run?
In an era of digitization, we are surrounded by innovative technologies that are already changing our reality as we know it. Currently, many companies are under pressure to reduce their emissions and carbon footprints. Some industries are tackling these challenges while improving efficiency and reducing costs. Yet many companies need advice and prompts on where and how to start to move towards sustainability.
Since data collection and emission monitoring are the first steps for achieving sustainability, SICK and our intelligent sensors are best suited to guide them towards a sustainable future, as consistent monitoring of energy consumption with intelligent sensors helps to identify patterns and ways of optimizing it through varying other factors in production. After all, if we cannot measure something, how do we improve it?