When machines can feel
core sensing transforms components into smart sensors
2021/10/26 by Jutta Witte
Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things require increasingly smarter technologies, processes and systems. core sensing GmbH wants to accompany its customers into the digital age: with smart components which themselves become sensors and use data to work optimally. This start-up – a spin-off from TU Darmstadt that has been supported by the HIGHEST Startup and Innovation Center – is on course for success. The first series production product is ready and the team is now enthusiastically looking forward to the Falling Walls Science Summit 2021.
There is currently a lot going on at core sensing. The team of entrepreneurs has just started its next round of financing that will enable this young start-up company to launch itself on the market and grow quickly to the break-even point over the next three years. The company still needs to expand on its first applications and negotiate new partnerships. And this year’s is just around the corner. core sensing is one of the 25 finalists from around the world that will present its innovations in Berlin in the “Venture” category. Co-founder and CTO Falling Walls event will represent the start-up at the event. “It is really a unique opportunity to present our products to a jury of renowned experts and an audience of prominent figures”, says the electrical engineer. Markus Hessinger
Taking measurements at the heart of the action
Whether a coupling, screw conveyor or cardan shaft, core sensing transforms standard mechanical parts into smart components. When sensors are fitted inside the parts, these components are able to measure force and torque and thus directly detect stresses and strains and gather information on the state of the machine. This data can also be combined with other measurement variables such as the temperature or vibrations and then wirelessly transmitted to the production control system. “We take measurements directly at the heart of the action and allow users to visualise things that couldn’t be visualised before”, explains CEO . The data collected by these “feeling machines” connected to the cloud makes it possible to optimise processes without any tricky and complex conversion work, monitor machine statuses and proactively service systems. “This reduces the reticence that many companies have to introducing new digital technologies”, explains the mechanical engineer. Martin Krech
More than just a supplier
The start-up company established by Hessinger, Krech and their two co-founders Simon Krech and Arthur Buchta is mainly focussing at the moment on the field of mechanical engineering and plant construction – a sector that has, on the one hand, a high demand for innovative solutions but, on the other hand, needs more than just off-the-shelf technologies. Digitalisation has left companies facing the challenge of positioning themselves on new markets and ecosystems, developing new business models and satisfying the increasingly specialised needs of customers with their product developments. “There has been a huge level of interest shown in the company and we have realised that we have our finger on the pulse of what’s currently happening”, observes Hessinger. “But we want to be more than just a supplier.” Therefore, the core sensing team is not only relying on a complete package of hardware and software but also wants to optimise processes in partnership with its customers and accompany them through the digital transformation. “In particular, medium-sized companies are the ideal partners for this type of cooperation”, says Martin Krech.
There has been a huge level of interest shown in the company and we have realised that we have our finger on the pulse of what’s currently happening
Get out and meet customers, exhibit at trade fairs
Krech and Hessinger are aware that their business philosophy will often take some getting used to in the often still conservative mechanical engineering and plant construction sector and will require trust. This is why their motto from the very beginning has been to get out and meet customers on the factory floor and exhibit at trade fairs at an early stage of the development of their prototypes. The start-up has also followed a very offensive sales strategy, discussed prices with interested parties and thus tested its market value: “This is the reality in business and we faced up to it at a very early stage”, reports Krech. The entrepreneurs already decided that they wanted to turn the results of their research into products and start a business back when they were research assistants at university. Funding from that was secured with the support of the EXIST Transfer of Research Startup and Innovation Center provided crucial assistance during the start-up phase and the company was also given a boost by the patent acquired by TU Darmstadt. The start-up has been on an exclusively upward trend since then. HIGHEST
Clear roadmap to the future
core sensing has now secured 40 paying pilot partners, primarily manufacturers of components, has 20 concrete application scenarios on the table and the interdisciplinary team has grown to nine permanent employees. In cooperation with the construction equipment manufacturer Knauf PFT GmbH & Co. KG, it launched its first series production product this summer. The start-up also has a clear roadmap for the future. core sensing will enter the Series A round of financing at the beginning of 2022 and will be operating profitably from 2024 onwards. But next up is the Falling Wall event – a good opportunity to meet new, potential partners and attract investors for the scaling-up phase. Markus Hessinger is looking forward to it and staying calm: “Stage fright only starts when you are standing on the stage.”
The core sensing measurement chain
The heart of the core sensing measurement chain is the smart sensor package coreIN, which is installed inside mechanical components to measure force and torque. The Android app coreVIEWER visualises all of the measured variables and enables users to conveniently control the industry gateway coreGATE and the measuring amplifier coreLIME. The sensor runs completely independently thanks to an integrated energy harvester and is thus able to continuously send all relevant measurement data and information on the system wirelessly to the cloud.
- 02/2014 – 11/2018 Preliminary scientific research at the and Institute for Production Engineering and Forming Machines (PtU) at TU Darmstadt Measurement and Sensor Technology Group (MuST)
- 11/2018 – 04/2020 Funding from EXIST Transfer of Research
- 01/2019 Foundation of core sensing GmbH
- 05/2019 Main prize in the Digital Innovation startup competition
- 03/2020 Seed financing completed
- 04/2021 as part of Hannover Messe Hermes Start-up Award
- 07/2021 First application enters series production
- 09/2021 Start of the Series A round of financing