Dr. Peter Fischer: actively shaping IT
thyssenkrupp Bilstein manufactures state-of-the-art shock absorbers at seven sites around the world. Nothing would work in the technology leader’s digitalization process were it not for IT. The point at which all lines converge is Dr. Peter Fischer in Essen. As Head of Infrastructure, Security & Digitalization, the 34-year old and his team are responsible for high-performance and secure IT infrastructure.
thyssenkrupp Bilstein manufactures shock absorbers for car manufacturers and the aftermarket at a total of seven production sites worldwide - in Europe, China, Mexico and in the US. While each plant relies on local IT specialists for operations, other functions are centralised. Areas of responsibility and business segments such as IT strategy and architecture, network services, cloud services, cybersecurity and the Data Center are managed centrally in Germany – and, to a lesser extent, remotely.
In the 21st century, nothing in industry works without the help of IT. “If the servers have stopped working, you may as well call it a day,” Dr. Peter Fischer explains. “If the network crashes, networked production will come to a halt. That would be the worst case scenario!” The IT professional and Doctor of Mechanical Engineering should know. As Head of Infrastructure, Security & Digitalization at the shock absorber specialist, he is responsible for three areas that are particularly relevant to security and is able to combine his two passions in this role: IT and production.
One of the greatest challenges for Peter and his team involves ensuring that the systems are working stably so that safe production can be guaranteed. The other great challenge – and one that runs parallel to the first – involves further developing IT infrastructure and production using modern technologies such as cloud computing, PaaS (Platform as a service), and SaaS (Software as a service).
IT as a gamechanger
After all, functioning IT is no longer just a necessary standard in international competition. It is becoming a gamechanger. “We are developing our IT away from the classic (internal) service provider towards a business enabler that generates real value for our specialist departments,” Peter reveals. “To this end, we are working simultaneously on innovative digitalization projects and on improving our basic IT infrastructure. This is what we call ‘two-speed IT’. The best example of this is our Connected Factory project, in which we collect production data from our machines securely and in a standardised way and analyse it.”
The demands on IT infrastructure are constantly increasing. “Catalogues of requirements for cybersecurity in particular have become much more demanding in recent years,” says the 34-year old. No wonder: The number of worldwide cyberattacks has been on the rise for years. Experts estimate the global damage caused by cybercrime totalled six trillion dollars in 2021. “As far as IT is concerned, we really are facing a huge, ongoing global threat,” the IT professional confirms. “That is why our customers, especially the big car manufacturers, are demanding more and more of us, and have clear requirements regarding processes and documentation that we have to meet. The pressure from OEMs is immense and, in some cases, suppliers will not receive new orders if information security certificates are not fulfilled.”
“Unleashing its full IT power”
That is why the IT team at thyssenkrupp Bilstein has been reformed and expanded in recent months, as the IT infrastructure expert points out. “Together we have begun to transform the company. From an IT point of view, it has become more grown-up and will soon be able to unleash its full power.”
“Making decisions and being able to work alongside the right people is incredibly fun,” says Peter. But that is precisely the challenge for the shock absorber manufacturer. Dr. Peter Fischer: “We are still looking for a great deal of reinforcement. But the personnel situation is tricky: The shortage of skilled workers in the IT sector is particularly striking. And when it comes to cybersecurity experts, the situation is downright absurd.”
Anyone who decides to take a job at thyssenkrupp Bilstein can expect to find “a great, young team,” as the 34-year old emphasises. “We are not just a totally dynamic company and a brand that stands for driving pleasure and driving dynamics. We offer flat hierarchies, a great deal of responsibility, as well as steep learning curves. We also give our colleagues the opportunity to develop processes and play an active role in shaping them.”
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