Ever since Dräger was formed as a skilled craftsmanship business in Lübeck in 1889, the company has been very true to its traditions and principal motivation, ‘technology for life’. To be able to save lives within dangerous environments involving gas, fire and water, the company’s worldwide offices must rely on the ICT system being available and the risk of failure minimised.
Dräger has a tradition of creating innovative ‘technology for life’, a strategy that has given the company an impressive long life and several prizes for innovation. Today, the company’s products are well known to those who strive daily to save lives as their profession.
Protection from gases, fire and water
If you worked in a mine 100 years ago, you were probably very happy about one of Dräger’s inventions. “Back then, we developed the first mechanical breathing apparatus for the mining industry. It could be operated for up to two hours, an innovation that proved invaluable in improving the safety of miners worldwide. In the United States, the men who wore this equipment were called ‘Draegermen’ and, ever since, the Dräger name has been synonymous with safe breathing,” explains Stefan Ihlow, who is Dräger Safety’s manager for IT and process management.
“Dräger has also developed a variety of products and services which warn about and protect people from airborne pollutants and enable people to breathe reliably even in extreme situations. It is all about early warning of dangerous substances in the environment, and this also applies to the company’s new invention, the Dräger Interlock. This instrument measures alcohol in a person’s breath together with a vehicle ‘immobiliser’ that actually prevents a driver from starting the car if his or her alcohol level is too high. It may also be linked to secure databases, controlled by national authorities in case the driver has been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol,” says Stefan Ihlow.
A live ICT infrastructure
Today, Dräger Safety has 3,620 employees working for 40 subsidiaries located in over 100 countries. Obviously, the nature of Dräger’s worldwide business creates several challenges for the company’s IT strategy.
“Since our products’ mission is to prevent the loss of lives, we can’t accept our ICT system acting as a bottle-neck for innovation or operations, or at all as a risk for failure. The company is in continuous evolution, and hence there has been and will be a constant need for change and the consolidation of diverse systems,” states Stefan Ihlow.
He adds: “There are also national regulations that put demands on the technical logistics and security. For example, an oil company may use Dräger as a one-stop-shop for all safety-related products and services. Here we can organise a shut-down of the plant if a technical revision is to be carried out, and provide all the necessary equipment, project management and manpower.
“Technicians who have been involved in the management of global and complex ICT systems know that the best way of making system changes is to predict risks and implement the necessary changes in small controlled steps.
With the project management run by Tireno – a DNV-owned IT service management company – we have established an IT infrastructure strategy that aims for a stable and flexible basic infrastructure to ensure 100% safe processes, reliable data and availability. It is named COIN (common infrastructure), and will be run to suit our global need for flexibility and scalability, both with regard to adaptation to new environments, regulations and business growth. To be able to do so, we must focus on regionally centralising all the systems’ physical locations and management. Only in this way can we minimise the risk and have full transparency and security regarding every detail of this complex system.
Our products live in a risky world, just like the nature of our own organisation. To enhance our own principle of creating innovative technology for life, we must survive and evolve with constant change,” concludes Stefan Ihlow.