Lord of the cable spaghetti
Digging in, sorting out, keeping the overview – that’s basically still Ivo’s job. It’s just that he doesn’t track electrons any more, but, for example, many, many wires. Around 500 kilometres of cables are installed in an Airbus A380, the configuration varies depending on what the customer wants. When Ivo joined the project, the daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung was carrying reports about “cable spaghetti” – because the engineers had lost the overview in the course of the design process.
The solution to the problem grew into a whole discipline, known as “configuration management”. Ivo leads this centre of competence at umlaut. The approach is always similar: reduce complexity wherever possible – and manage complexity efficiently where it can’t be avoided. “It’s like when I tell my kids: tidy up your room, then you’ll be able to find everything. But if you’ve got the chaos in your wardrobe under control: fine by me”.
The principle works in a kid’s bedroom and at Airbus as well. Consultants from umlaut are still taking care of the transnational company today. But it can be transferred to even more things, as Ivo says. Washing machines, for example: “The drum always turns the same way, but the controls change every year. I don’t have to reinvent the whole washing machine”
Launchpad beside the molehill
Ivo relaxes from modularisation and change management half an hour or so out of Hamburg. Motorway exit Pinneberg-Nord, a bit of country road, then you’re surrounded by molehills and rabbit cages. A spotted woodpecker pecks at a fatball, Ivo strides across fields that belong to a farmer friend. In his own garden, he only has a robot lawnmower doing its rounds – he doesn’t want to cause the neighbours nuisance with flying drones.