Success Story

MICROSENS Switches form the IT infrastructure of Erich Utsch AG

10 years have passed since the Erich Utsch AG made the principal decision to partially replace the existing copper cabling by a fiber optic infrastructure. And today, the middle-class world market leader on the sector of licence plates, licence plate production technology and registration systems is still convinced of "Fiber To The Office": Availability rates of almost 100 per cent, the smooth expansion of the network in the direction of VLAN and cloud services, as well as a favourable price-performance ratio are all parameters advocating the concept of MICROSENS GmbH & Co. KG and their MicroSwitches. Moreover, MICROSENS which has a production site in Hamm, Germany, also offers special industrial switches to the manufacturing sector, which are designed for the operation in harsh environments.

Investment Made by Medium-scale Company

A reconstructed wine press to stamp licence plates constituted the beginnings of the activities at UTSCH in the year 1961. At that time, nobody would have expected that the family-led business would be active in 130 countries across the world 50 years later and employ more than 550 persons worldwide. Today, the medium sized company is considered to be a perfect example of German entrepreneurship: Committed, innovative, and endowed with a keen sense of market niches. The Siegen-based company developed e.g. the Third Licence Plate from holographic foil, which cannot be removed without impairment, the intelligent registration with RFID chips and numerous stamping presses and production units. In addition, UTSCH have established themselves in the past years as a system provider for the implementation of holistic and secure automotive registration systems.

Clear-cut Decision, Reliable Operation

No matter which of the four sectors of the company headquarters in Siegen is concerned – be it the administration, construction, production, or logistics department – a reliable IT infrastructure is in demand everywhere. For this reason, the company replaced the existing, star-shaped CAT5 copper cabling by fiber optic up to the offices more than ten years ago. Here – usually in the parapet duct –  the compact MICROSENS MicroSwitches are installed, which feature a 100-Mbps uplink port and several RJ-45 ports for the connection of end devices. In this way, the company prepares itself for future requirements and immediately benefits from the advantages offered by both technologies:

  • The fiber optic cabling in the distribution cables and in the horizontal cabling requires less space, is reliable and future-proof.
  • Copper connections are provided by default on all end devices, while corresponding fiber optic ports would have to be purchased for the end devices at high costs.

From a recent viewpoint, the decision would again be made in favour of Fiber To The Office, explains Jörg Voosen, the technical project manager who is responsible for the network technology. This became already evident when the administrative building was substantially refurbished in 2011: The fiber optic cabling was completely removed and the server room was implemented as a security cell according to state-of-the-art know-how. The network technology of MICROSENS, in contrast, was completely re-used. The following evaluations were the decisive parameters for this course of action:

  • Bandwidth: 100 MBit horizontally to the workplace, 1 GBit in the backbone, and 10 GBit in the server room are still sufficient. The virtualization of the desktops, in particular, even rather led to a reduction of the bandwidth demand in the past year.
  • Security: The switches support functions such as MAC access control, which helps to identify and block unauthorized devices in the network immediately. Guest VLANs can be configured which work independent from the core network.
  • Management: All MICROSENS components can be configured and monitored simply and clearly via the MICROSENS network management system NMP.

Apart from that, quality plays a decisive role for Jörg Voosen. He cannot remember any outage of a switch in the administrative building and a glance at the monitoring tool shows almost consistent availability rates of 100%. Voosen also regards the operation period as remarkable: "Even MicroSwitches of MICROSENS from the first delivery package of 2004 are still working today without fault."


Future in the Cloud

Nevertheless, they will soon be replaced. The motivation for this is the new strategic orientation on the IT sector: The Erich Utsch AG operates its subsidiaries on all five continents. The IT systems of all these subsidiaries are locally supported. This is meant to be changed in the future. A large extent of the sectors of the company group will in the future have the option to use IT services of the company headquarters. The prerequisite for this, however, consists of virtual LANs which make it possible to uncouple the network sections from each other logically and also in terms of the security technology. All current manageable MICROSENS systems offer the functions required for this purpose by default, such as tagging according to EEE 802.3ac, prioritization according to  IEEE 802.1p, the assignment of VLAN IDs 0..4095 as well as static and dynamic VLAN tables. In this way, they replace the existing MicroSwitches of earlier generations.

Harsh Environment

In the course of the years, the number of switches installed at the company site in Siegen rose to 170. They include MicroSwitches of MICROSENS. These robust devices are specially designed for the operation in harsh environments. They can cope with temperature changes in the range from -20 to +60 degree Centigrade, just as well as with vibrations or increased air humidity. In the manufacturing halls of UTSCH, the high temperatures in the summer were a major reason for this migration. "We have been using office switches for a long time on the manufacturing sector, but the extreme temperatures in the past summer suddenly caused problems. After the replacement of the MicroSwitches, we found the optimum solution for this application, as well."

Competence and Trust

When selecting their IT partners, the Erich Utsch AG focusses on competence. The closeness of the suppliers also plays a major role. In this context, Jörg Voosen explains: "Our colleagues are our customers who expect a working IT and a fast service from us. We can only provide that if we can trust on the competent support by the manufacturers in the case of problems. MICROSENS as a German enterprise perfectly matches our strategy and provides the quality which we expect."

In the company headquarters in Siegen, the world-wide activities of UTSCH are orchestrated. After the modernization of the building, the company consequently trusts in the "Fiber To The Office" concept of MICROSENS.

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Transmitting information via fiber optic connections offers numerous benefits. MICROSENS GmbH & Co. KG recognised this very early on. As one of the pioneers, the company has developed and produced high-performance communications and transmission systems in Germany since 1993. Individually matched to the demands of diverse usage areas and embedded in comprehensive concepts for individual sectors. But, above all, close to the customer. Technical challenges from customer projects are incorporated directly into product development. This way, IP-based automation solutions are created for modern buildings, cost-efficient network concepts for the office and workspace, robust and fail-safe solutions for industrial environments, optical transport systems future-oriented wide area networks and efficient coupling of sites and computer centres.