Hackathon Handwerk 2018
In July 2018, 16 participants from 11 companies in the skilled trades sector came together in Koblenz to participate in the first ever “Hackathon Handwerk”. Developed and delivered by the Enterprise of Things Lab (University of Koblenz-Landau) and hosted by the Kompetenzzentrum Digitales Handwerk (Handwerkskammer Koblenz) the goal of the hackathon is to introduce participants to digitalisation technologies and to explore opportunities to integrate the Internet of Things (IoT) into work in areas such as heating engineering, warehousing, or building construction.
Held over two consecutive days, the workshop began with an introduction to the current state of IoT development by Patrick Nitschke (IoT expert and PhD student) from the EoTLab and Christoph Krause (digitalisation specialist) from the Handwerkskammer Koblenz.
This was followed by a series of brainstorming and design activities to identify and discuss the drivers, barriers, opportunities and challenges of introducing IoT into skilled trades. Working in teams the participants then selected one potential application of IoT that would deliver a significant innovation in their work. The remainder of the hackathon was focused on developing a concept and building a prototype of the selected IoT innovation.
Guided by the experts from the EoTLab the teams worked late into the night using a wide range of technologies and sensors to build their prototype solution and to write the appropriate code using the node-RED low-code programming environment and the THINGS NETWORK to deploy the solution. The primary goal was to introduce the participants to typical tools and technologies that could be used in their organisations to build solutions to their identified business problems.
One team prototyped a solution for a paint company that measures moisture within a damp wall and alerts the company when the wall is dry enough to paint. Another prototype was developed as a solution of a roofer’s inventory holding, where the roofer needs information on what elements are in the warehouse, in the delivery van, and on the construction site, based on NFC, GPS and a smartphone application.
Although most participants had no prior experience with coding or assembling IoT hardware, all were successful in understanding the requirements for setting up and using the technology.
On the second day of the Hackathon the teams explained and presented their finished prototypes and discussed how their solutions could be integrated into their existing processes to optimise workflows. For example, the group who built the prototype to monitor wall moisture after a water leak, explained that the task is currently time and labour-intensive; a technician tracks the drying process manually by frequently visiting the building to take moisture measurements. Using a tool based on the prototype this process could be made more efficient by mounting the moisture measuring sensors on the damp wall. The sensor continuously measures the moisture and collects data and automatically transmits it back to the office, eliminating the need to visit the building to collect data manually. All information can be accessed and analysed digitally, resulting in an optimised workflow and saving valuable resources such as time and costs.
The event was extremely successful; feedback from the participants valued the workshop’s interactive environment where they had gained first-hand experience with digitalisation tools in a well-supported and exploratory manner. From a research perspective the EoT lab researchers gained important insights into the diverse range of drivers, barriers, challenges and opportunities for IoT introduction into organisations in the skilled crafts trades sector.