Wessel Koning, director Interay Solutions 'The fascinating thing about technology is that it is never finished and never finished'
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Wessel Koning, director Interay Solutions 'The fascinating thing about technology is that it is never finished and never finished'

Interay Solutions has never lacked an eye for innovation and renewal. But the Burgum-based company wants more, to work even smarter and more thoughtfully. 'Smart Industry Hub Noord can inspire us and give us insights to accelerate further digitalization of business processes and working methods.'

Wessel Koning is enthusiastic and confident. Recently, Interay Solutions, the company of which he is a director, started the Smart Industry Hub North program. 'Already after the first session I was convinced that it is going to bring us a lot,' he says. 'The program can help us achieve a fully digitized production environment in the near future. In other words, a production environment where both instructions to employees and the progress of processes are completely digital. By making optimal use of digitization, we will soon be able to anticipate market demands even more flexibly and effectively.'

Sensor Technology

Interay Solutions specializes in the design and development of smart electronic products. Of dedicated electronics and embedded software for industrial applications, to be precise. All customized products that are then serially produced in-house by the Frisian company. Clients are mainly found in industry, civil engineering, logistics, agriculture and security.

At least as diverse are the electronic solutions offered to them. 'However, it always has something to do with sensor technology and wireless Internet communication,' Wessel clarifies. 'Think of a sensor that determines position to the nearest centimeter on the basis of satellite communication, for example when building roads. Or a solution to register the stock in tanks, keep track of it and send the data back to the Internet, so that you have the most up-to-date information remotely. But we also developed a sensor for a client that, mounted on a building or a bridge, registers quakes and tilts.'

The beginning

Briefly, the company provides custom solutions for control and Internet of Things (IoT) monitoring. 'We call this very specifically Industrial IoT,' Wessel emphasizes. 'Unlike IoT in the home, these applications can always be linked to and justified with a business case.'

Interay Solutions began in 1982 as a company focused on developing and manufacturing its own products. A well-considered choice, because at that time industrial controls and control solutions were on the rise. As a result, growth was quickly achieved. There was no lack of ambition, because about fifteen years ago the company decided to develop its own PC for industry. For about three years, intensive work was done on that novelty. The product had only just been completed, however, when industrial computers also came onto the market from Asia. And yes, they cost only a fraction of the product developed by Interay Solutions. As a result, the company found itself in dire straits and eventually went bankrupt in 2006.


What followed was a relaunch. Or to be more precise: Interay Solutions was taken over by the NiVoGe foundation, a partnership between high-quality technical companies that together offer a wide range of services. 'The main goal of NiVoGe, which stands for Not For Profit, is to preserve jobs and strengthen employment,' Wessel explains. 'That is also the reason the foundation acquired us. They simply did not want to let the valuable knowledge, experience and competencies that were in the company evaporate in a bankruptcy. We then started all over again with about six people and over the years have grown into a company with about 25 employees. That growth is currently continuing steadily. At the same time, a new strategy was chosen: developing and producing smart electronic products on commission. And we are still doing that.

Never finished

Wessel himself has been with Interay Solutions since 2012 . First as manager Business Development, later as deputy director and since 2017 as director. In those years, he has seen much change within the company and the field. After all, technology thunders on. In fact, the manufacturing industry is facing another major digitization battle. So anyone who wants to stay in the game has no choice but to embrace the smart industry. 'That is precisely what makes our profession so much fun,' says Wessel. 'Technology is what keeps us busy all day long. The fascinating thing about technology is that it is never ready and never finished. The most important development in recent years? That we now have tools that allow us to design something and then produce it with more than a 95% success guarantee. That was unimaginable ten years ago. You also see that artificial intelligence and machine learning in particular are playing an increasingly important role. It goes without saying that we are also going to invest heavily in this. Indeed, we are already working on interesting things in that area.'

Learning from each other

So Interay Solutions is pretty much on course to become a true smart factory. But to actually arrive at the desired fully digitized production environment, there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome. Hence the company decided to participate in the Smart Industry program. 'Smart Industry Hub Noord can inspire us and give us insights to accelerate further digitization of business processes and working methods,' Wessel argues. 'We are in the program with several companies. Besides differences, of course, you also see many similarities in business operations and the challenges you face. By openly discussing these with each other, you can learn a lot from each other and perhaps even arrive at relevant solutions together. That is also the main reason for us to participate.'


Wessel particularly appreciates the practical set-up of the Smart Industry program. For example, he says, numerous experienced people from both the academic - and industrial worlds are involved. 'That mix of expertise makes it very valuable. Of course, we have only just started, but I have great expectations of it. This practical approach can also be seen in the extensive assessment we recently went through. We were really asked all our questions. It gave us a better understanding of where we are, where we want to go and which layers of digitization we still need to make. At the same time it became clear that we are well on our way. That is satisfying.

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