Ulf Theike: “We’re shaping our future”

10 October 2016


In all areas of industry, digitalisation is the key theme of the future. In this interview, Ulf Theike talks about new business models and how the world of TÜV NORD is set to change in the age of Industry 4.0.

#explore: Mr Theike, did you write your university dissertation on a PC or were you still reliant on the good old typewriter?

Ulf Theike: I remember it well. I used my very first computer which I’d bought especially for my final dissertation. I didn’t have any choice, since my professor had decided to accept only work that had been written on a computer.

#explore: TÜV NORD has successfully kept up with all technological innovations for over 145 years. What’s so special about digitalisation? 

Ulf Theike: It involves exceptionally rapid worldwide developments that affect our activities. In future we’ll be adding IT security to our previous portfolio of tests. This applies to lifts just as much as it does to vehicles, medical products and toys. The analogue and digital worlds are going to merge into a single digital world.

#explore: How is TÜV NORD preparing for this change?

Ulf Theike: We’re questioning existing successful services and looking to digitalise them in the medium term. After all, we generate data ourselves and are trying to use them to develop new and innovative business models. We’re currently doing this in the industrial sector.

“Independent tests will only be useful in future if it’s possible to see what’s going on in IT, and in motor and systems control equipment.”

Ulf Theike, General Manager of TÜV NORD Systems and TÜV NORD CERT

#explore: Can you give some examples?

Ulf Theike: We know that manufacturers of lifts are already installing sensors and collecting data with the future aim of being able to assess the condition of the lifts online. We’ll soon be working with our own sensors on a trial basis and evaluating the data. Independent third-party testing must remain an integral part of systems safety, even in the digital age.

#explore: So security issues are quickly going to have to be added to the existing regulations.

Ulf Theike: Accurate independent tests will only be useful in future if it’s possible to see what’s going on in IT, and in motor and systems control equipment. The statutory and normative conditions need to be created for this as soon as possible.  IT security must be considered in conjunction with other risks.

#explore: What does the term Security4Safety, S4S in short, actually mean?

Ulf Theike: Security4Safety is the overall heading for the continued development of our services in the digital age. With it we’re going to be combining classical knowledge in the field of product, operational and plant safety with the new, digital requirements on IT security. Here I can see some very good prospects for new services.

#explore: How can members of staff at TÜV NORD who are currently busy with classic, analogue services contribute to our success?

Ulf Theike:  They can make consistent use of our ideas management to help our company. What’s important is that our employees have the skills to shape our future themselves. What we need for this are the commitment and the courage to question and improve our own services and processes. If we all do that, we’ll be well on the way.


Ulf Theike, General Manager of TÜV NORD Systems and TÜV NORD CERT is the person responsible for the digital development of services and internal processes in the Industrial Services business unit.