Future technologies have no age limit: At the age of 79, Dietmar Harting founded the Perinet GmbH

03. January 2019

Future technologies have no age limit

At the age of 79, Dietmar Harting founded the Perinet GmbH

Dietmar und Margrit Harting, Vorstand der HARTING Technologiegruppe

Dietmar and Margrit Harting, Members of the Board, HARTING Technology Group

Everybody is talking about ‘Industry 4.0’, the digitisation of manufacturing. The founders of the Adlershof-based Perinet GmbH are taking action. They are creating the IT infrastructure necessary for digitally connected, sensor-monitored industrial processes. The mixed-age team aims at improving communication between sensors and actuators.

Founded in October 2018 and already ten high-skilled employees? This alone makes it very clear that Perinet is not your everyday start-up. The founder’s year of birth, 1939, may also raise some eyebrows. Even more so considering that the company’s mission is to develop, manufacture, and market components, devices and software for the industrial internet of things (IIoT).

In fact, the long-standing experience of the company’s founder is a crucial clue to solve the mystery surrounding this Adlershof-based start-up. Dietmar Harting is no stranger to the industry. Alongside his mother Mary, his wife Margrit, and his late brother Jürgen, he has been responsible for building a global company with an annual turnover of 750 million euros since the 1960s. In 2015, he handed over management to the third generation. ‘However, my wife and I still work for the company full-time,’ he says firmly.

Indeed, retirement is not on the horizon. On the contrary, Harting developed a real itch to start again. This is where Karsten Walther comes into play, who took over from him as operations manager of Perinet. They share an enthusiasm for technology. ‘I have always been interested in technological progress, how we can use technology to shape a better future for people,’ explains Harting. Walther, who has most recently been responsible for developing HARTING’s key IIoT components, was became his congenial partner. The mini-computer MICA, which acts as a data hub for a company’s machines, facilities, and IT infrastructure, received the Hermes Award in 2016. Owing to its strictly modular design, it can be equipped with all established communication interfaces according to the customer’s requirements. MICA is a highly flexible enabler for smooth data traffic in digitally connected factories.

It is precisely for this type of project that Dietmar Harting founded the HARTING IT Software Development GmbH & Co. KG, which has been based in Adlershof since 2013. This is also where the PhD computer scientist recruited Walther as a specialist for embedded systems. With Perinet, the two are taking the digital integration of manufacturing processes to the next level. Their aim is to digitally connect peripheral sensors and actuators.

‘We want to attain universal communication via common internet standards,’ explains Walther. Until now, data exchange between sensors and actuators required a converter to translate signals into protocols such as Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) in order to then forward it via LAN or wireless LAN. ‘It is our goal to enable a direct connection between the sensors. Communication between sensors and actuators should be as easy as that between two computers. This would enable us to trigger sensors from a browser on a notebook – or transfer sensor data directly into the cloud,’ he says. This level of integration also creates security advantages by enabling universally encrypted end-to-end communication. ‘Existing architectures are especially vulnerable at the converters because that is where the raw data become visible,’ explains Walther.

New sensors and actuators with common IP interfaces are the prerequisite for Harting’s and Walther’s vision. Perinet is stepping up to produce the necessary electronic hardware and software. The spin-off company will follow a two-pronged approach: ‘We will manufacture the electronics in-house but also go down a sales path via established manufacturers, who can equip their sensors with our technology.’ For Harting, this is another step on his journey to shape future technologies. Meeting him has made one thing very clear: future technologies have no age limit.

By Peter Trechow for Adlershof Journal