Prepare the future and enter the digital era

Ronja Schrimpf

Startup Stories

The industry in general is facing several challenges such as the fierce competition with emerging countries and the aging of its workforce. At the same time digitization and new technologies are a way to cope with these challenges and to grasp new opportunities. Gemsotec is convinced that mobile and smart digital solutions play an essential role in the digital transformation of the industry. Gemsotec therefore has developed the GoRound platform to carry out work instructions, inspections and tasks on smartphone or tablet. Co-Founder and CEO of Gemsotec, Geert Sergoyne, explains in an interview with 5-HT, how companies can make a success of the digital transformation and how it will help them competing in a globalised world. 

Geert Sergoyne

GoRound: Make your inspections, work instructions and tasks mobile. 

„Gemsotec helps its customers to reach the next level of operational excellence by developing and applying innovative solutions. More specifically, we help our customers to make their operations safer and more productive through mobile and augmented applications”, Geert Sergoyne explains. He is co-founder and CEO of the Belgian start-up Gemsotec. 

Their main product, the ‘GoRound platform’, can be used as a web application and – more importantly – as a mobile solution for smartphones and tablets. “The GoRound is a platform that assists workers in the industry to carry out inspections, work instructions and tasks on smartphone or tablet. They are guided step by step with clear instructions, visuals and information about the location. This way knowledge is retained and shared within the company. The fact that people are using a smart device also allows them to better capture the reality outside. When an observation is made, it can be completed with a picture and a location. This is essential to ensure an efficient internal communication: one good picture is worth a thousand words.”, Geert explains their main product, “Via the web application instructions, inspections and tasks can be created and scheduled in an intuitive way. For Gemsotec it is essential that the people who nowadays manage these processes will keep on doing this in the future as they have the knowhow for it. Under no circumstance developers should be involved. As everything is digital lots of data is generated which gives new valuable insights in the customer’s operations. A reporting module is included with a full audit trail of all actions taken which is of utmost importance in the pharmaceutical or chemical industry. The GoRound is currently used within the chemical industry, food industry and logistics, and serving different disciplines such as quality, safety or production. Gemsotec has small and medium sized companies and multinationals within its portfolio.“ 

Geert resumes, “Our unique selling point is that we offer one intuitive platform for augmented operations that gives valuable insights.” 

Schematic representation GoRoundSchematic representation GoRound

Digital Twin: Map your knowledge and make it available for everyone. 

“We noticed that it becomes more and more difficult for workers such as operators to see the bigger picture. The plants get bigger and more complex and at the same time the staff is reduced. This means that we expect more from less people and at the same time they do not get a decade to be fully trained as it was the case in the past. They are expected to be autonomous and qualified for the job as soon as possible. If we are honest, it takes years to know all the ins and outs of a plant. On top of this the aging of the population leads to a real brain drain within the plants. Therefore, it is time for action in order to make sure that knowledge is retained and that people have the means to operate the plants as they should be operated. A digital twin of a plant is an excellent solution for this huge challenge”, Geert explains. 

The ‘Digital Twin’ connects assets, employees and digital resources through an interactive platform that integrates with already existing digital resources of a company. “That means, all relevant information is made available for the plant’s personnel in an intuitive and visual way”, Geert concludes. The ‘Digital Twin’ is a digital copy of your plant. “You can imagine it as a google map of a plant. The map shows where all assets are located and people can easily find relevant information and instructions. The map visualizes where problems occur or works are ongoing. That makes information easily accessible for everyone at all time at a glance. People can even navigate through the plant.” 

Networks like 5-HT’s X-Linker work like a catalyst making deals easier. 

Gemsotec was founded in 2017 by three engineers, who already had lots of experience from previous jobs. One of these was Geert, who worked over ten years within operations in the chemical industry: “Although the chemical industry is a front runner concerning the automation of plants, a lot of tasks are still managed on paper and there is a strong dependence on knowledge which is only in the head of some experienced operators or technicians. This of course involves a risk, especially in combination with the aging of the workforce. As we are living in the 21st century where technologies are evolving at an increasing speed and nowadays everybody is used to smartphones and tablets, we saw a huge opportunity for the industry. Therefore, we founded Gemsotec to contribute to this digital transformation. Founding is not complicated. It is only the start of a journey that requires dedication and hard work each day. But this is not enough, you also need networks to grow.” 

Right now, Gemsotec is looking for customers outside Belgium. Especially Germany is a very interesting market for Gemsotec. It has a strong industry and there is still a lot of potential to digitize. Gemsotec is also looking for local partners who are interested to distribute and implement the GoRound in Germany. 

Therefore, Gemsotec participated to the 5-HT’s program X-Linker. A good experience, as Geert retells: “The quality of the coaches was excellent and their advices were really valuable and concrete. At the end of the week, every start-up had the opportunity to pitch its project and had about fifteen meetings with large companies from the Mannheim Ludwigshafen area. This really was the cherry on the cake. We are still in contact with many of the companies and start-ups and are working on new opportunities.” 

Working in a start-up means managing all disciplines with a small team 

Working in a start-up is very different to working in a big company, like Geert used to: “I was always managing a significant but limited scope. Working in a start-up means not only working on the technology, but you need to tackle finance, marketing, sales and legal matters too. It is crucial to know when to get advice or outsource. Being challenged in all these areas is what working in a start-up makes really interesting.” 

For other start-up founders, Geert can offer the following advice: “Networks, such as the Digital Hub 5-HT, are very important for a start-up. B2B is all about building a relationship and get trusted by the customer. A network such as 5-HT and programs like X-linker can act somehow like a catalyst: It shortens the sales cycle and increase the probability of making a deal.” 

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