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Berlin to go, english edition, 02/2019

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PERSPECTIVES

PERSPECTIVES Christoph Paul Ritzkat, CEO of Kieback&Peter since 2017 A BERLIN ORIGINAL TRADITION MEETS INNOVATION Kieback&Peter sets standards in intelligent building solutions Text: Gabriele Schulte-Kemper On 24 February 1927, two engineers by the name of Paul Peter and Erich Kieback founded a small “factory for mechanical regulators” in Berlin. What the founders couldn’t have known back then was that they were laying the foundation for a company that is a global leader in its field today. They also could not have anticipated how dramatically their field of business would change in the subsequent decades. The original idea behind Kieback&Peter centered on the regulation of high-temperature furnaces for the then booming electrical industry. Their guiding principle was to find the simplest and most effective solution possible for their clients. The company’s early days brought pioneering achievements in control systems engineering. In what was then a very analogue age, Kieback&Peter primarily developed room thermostats, actuators, outdoor and flow-temperature sensors, with the founders increasingly transferring their expertise in industrial applications to residential and commercial buildings. Skills, enthusiasm and a large degree of daring allowed the entrepreneurial duo to quickly get its first large-scale contract: the closed-loop control of the heating systems at Berlin-Tempelhof Airport, which at the time had the largest surface area of any building in the world. The company continued to grow steadily with each new advance in technology. In the 1980s, the team created their “control optimization processor” (ROP), the first digital controller to rely intentionally on an analogue user interface. Long before concepts such as “usability” and “user experience” became fashionable, Kieback&Peter were already committed to a user-friendly philosophy that allows users to actually enjoy the simple and intuitive operation of their products. Photo: © Kieback&Peter, © Shutterstock 20

The history of the company is also closely interwoven with their location in Berlin. “We became what we are in Berlin, that is, a leading provider of building automation,” says Christoph Paul Ritzkat, Board Chairman of Kieback&Peter since 2017. “For this reason alone, we feel very rooted in the city. Berlin has always been an exciting place to live and do business. Today, it’s a hotspot for the startup scene, but there are also many long-established Berlin companies that make the city an important industrial location. We’ve been contributing to this great reputation for over 90 years now, and we see ourselves to a certain extent as the oldest startup in the city. Although our size and many decades of experience don’t really fit the bill, we still have the spirit, heart and passion of a young startup.” The fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War in the latter half of the 1990s created a spirit of optimism throughout Germany – one that was also felt at Kieback&Peter. In addition to their branches in the former West Germany, the building automation experts set out to establish new locations in the states of the former East Germany. The company also acquired its brand-new company headquarters in the district of Berlin-Neukölln. The Mittenwalde production factory was set up at the gates of the freshly minted German capital and helped create jobs for the adjacent state of Brandenburg as well. After founding new subsidiaries abroad, the company’s internationalization process progressed rapidly. “While our founding fathers focused on Berlin, we “We see ourselves as the oldest startup in Berlin.” Christoph Paul Ritzkat Kieback&Peter are currently equipping the entire Berlin Stadtschloss with building automation systems. see the market today from a global perspective and are active in 50 worldwide locations in eleven countries,” explains Ritzkat. “We’ve been communicating this approach especially recently in our new brand claim ‘Smart Buildings are Orange.’ This helps us to position ourselves as a leading provider of intelligent building solutions far beyond the borders of Germany.” Among the company’s international clients are aircraft manufacturers, such as Airbus, and automotive groups such as Daimler. That Stuttgart-based carmaker most recently contracted Kieback&Peter with the complete networking of water, energy and waste systems for an engine plant in Beijing. It’s a challenging task that involves processing the combined data of roughly 500 electric meters, 40 warm- and cold-water measuring points and compressed air counters in one system. The company now employs 1,400 employees worldwide and follows a unique mission to make buildings smarter and more sustainable. “We see ourselves as a type of ‘human-building interface!’ Our technology makes it possible for us to ensure the optimal interaction between both sides.” Using networked meta-systems, virtual services and artificial intelligence, buildings today can indeed become even more efficient, secure and comfortable. “Our software Paul Peter and Erich Kieback founded the small “factory for mechanical regulators” in 1927. 21

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