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The Future of Industrial Automation


April 12, 2024

Since March 2023, there has been a collaboration between Schubert System Elektronik GmbH and FLECS. We spoke with Alexander Matt, Team Leader of Product Management for Prime Cube at SSE, and Patric Scholz, Managing Director at FLECS, about the future of industrial automation.

In the discussion: Alexander Matt, Schubert System Elektronik GmbH and Patric Scholz, FLECS Technologies GmbH

Installing or updating applications on controls (PLCs) costs machine manufacturers a lot of time and money. Manufacturers and operators also often need to expand and upgrade their machines. FLECS automates this process and offers the mechanical engineering industry the ability to use software programs (apps) quickly and easily for any automation task, independent of hardware. Furthermore, extensions can be licensed and offered via the FLECS Marketplace. Currently, with two Prime Cube products, the Prime Box Pico—one of the smallest box PCs in the industrial environment—and the Prime Panel Pico Embedded 15.6″, Schubert System Elektronik GmbH (SSE) supports the innovative automation tool from FLECS. Thus, Prime Cube and FLECS create an optimal user experience and save time when setting up and updating machine controls.

Your companies have been cooperating for over a year. Can you introduce us to the partnership?

Alexander Matt: We find the approach to automation, simplifying access to LINUX and managed apps via an independent marketplace like FLECS’s, very exciting. FLECS provides the applications and ensures simple software deployment. With our Prime Cube hardware and an optimized LINUX operating system, we provide a stable basis for an automation solution. Together, we create an efficient way to solve industrial applications simply.

Patric Scholz: Our partnership exemplifies the synergy between innovative hardware and advanced software in the field of industrial automation. SSE contributes cutting-edge hardware with Prime Cube products, while FLECS ensures software-side flexibility and scalability with its Marketplace and Service Mesh. This combination enables users to design automation solutions efficiently, safely, and user-friendly, setting new standards in industrial automation.

We are experiencing a changing landscape of industrial automation. From your perspective, what are the challenges?

Patric Scholz: The transformation in industrial automation is primarily driven by digitalization and the increasing importance of cybersecurity. The challenges mainly lie in the integration and interoperability of different systems and in adapting to IT standards. Here, FLECS offers solutions with its open and flexible approach that enable complex system landscapes to be managed safely and efficiently while maximizing user-friendliness.

Alexander Matt: The ongoing dissolution of the classic automation pyramid and cybersecurity are major challenges for users. Previous hierarchies and structures are being dissolved, and the solution space is becoming significantly more complex. Suddenly, every level can communicate directly with every other level or provide the necessary interfaces. These must be managed. Also, the necessary level of security must be achieved. This means that more software and integration expertise is needed on the ground to find an efficient solution.

In the future, there is a focus on equipping new machines as well as retrofitting with the help of Edge Devices. Can you describe the requirements and solutions from your perspective?

Alexander Matt: Processes need to be more efficient, and access to automation must be more accessible to address issues like global competition and skilled labor shortages. This requires good data availability for the entire manufacturing process and an intuitive and guided approach to operating and servicing machines and systems. In this regard, Edge Devices are indispensable tools. They are the interface for capturing, preprocessing, and forwarding data at the field and control levels for further analysis. These then provide, among other things, easy user guidance and report early necessary maintenance intervals with guided service instructions, etc. This requires a high degree of connectivity in hardware and software since there are many different interfaces and data formats. With Prime Cube and FLECS, such an Edge Device can be quickly implemented, used, and maintained, and remains stable in the field through software deployment.

Patric Scholz: Edge Devices offer great opportunities for modernizing existing machines and implementing future-proof systems. A challenge is integrating into heterogeneous system landscapes. FLECS and Prime Cube address this through simple app integration and central management; supported by our Service Mesh for effective data communication. This simplifies extensions and upgrades significantly and helps users realize a connected production environment.

Mr. Scholz, you mentioned simple software deployment. What exactly does this involve?

Patric Scholz: Simple software deployment with FLECS means that users can find, install, and update applications through our Marketplace with just a few clicks. This process is comparable to installing an app on a smartphone, significantly reducing complexity and enabling a quick, smooth commissioning of automation solutions.

From your perspective, how can standard solutions improve industrial automation?

Alexander Matt: Standard solutions offer a variety of benefits. Among other things, they save costs, as custom solutions can be avoided. They are proven and reliable and facilitate maintenance and support. Yet, good standard solutions provide an appropriate degree of flexibility and scalability to be efficiently adapted to individual requirements. Prime Cube provides optimal conditions with adjustment levels BASE, STYLE, and CUSTOM.

Patric Scholz: I also see the advantages in cost efficiency, reliability, and maintenance friendliness. However, standard solutions also offer the necessary flexibility and scalability to meet individual requirements. The connection of Prime Cube with FLECS creates a powerful standard solution that is easily adaptable and enables companies to benefit from modern automation without extensive technical knowledge. Moreover, FLECS allows the integration of proprietary solutions and the distribution to specific customer groups, opening enormous potential for individual adjustments and innovations.

Mr. Scholz, can you tell us about the availability on the FLECS Marketplace and the benefits for users?

Patric Scholz: The FLECS Marketplace is at the heart of our strategy to make the world of automation simpler and more accessible. Integrating the Prime Cube products into the Marketplace offers our users direct access to powerful hardware combined with the flexibility of our software solutions. This not only eases the purchasing process but also provides a central location for managing and updating software, which simplifies system maintenance and enhances overall efficiency.

Mr. Matt, two products from Prime Cube are currently available. Can you tell us about these products?

Alexander Matt: We have intentionally chosen these two products in a fixed configuration to cover as broad a spectrum as possible with our standard solutions. Both systems are already equipped with our operating system, “Prime OS FLECS”. The Marketplace is pre-installed and can be used directly. With the Prime Box Pico, we deliver a compact solution for the switch cabinet to capture and prepare data. The Prime Panel Pico, with a 15.6″ diagonal, offers an optimal format for the tasks of “operating & observing” in an industrial environment. The apps from the FLECS Marketplace allow for optimal use of LINUX.

Finally, could you give us an outlook on the development of the collaboration?

Alexander Matt: Prime OS Flecs is now available on all our platforms and in all configuration levels. We plan to intensify our collaboration further and, in the medium term, provide our LINUX operating system Prime OS via the Marketplace, so that it can also be integrated into the software management and deployment of FLECS.

Patric Scholz: Our partnership is just the beginning of a promising development in industrial automation. We plan to deepen our collaboration further and continuously expand the offerings in the FLECS Marketplace. Our goal is to create a central platform for automation solutions that not only simplifies the integration of hardware and software but also makes a significant contribution to the security, efficiency, and future viability of the industry. We look forward to walking this path together and redefining the possibilities of industrial automation.

We thank you for the conversation.

The interview was conducted by the Marketing & Communications Department of Schubert System Elektronik GmbH.

About Schubert System Elektronik – Computer Technology Made in Germany.

Schubert System Elektronik stands for more than 50 years of development experience in the field of industrial computer systems, from sensor to cloud, from hardware and software to assemblies and standard products to complete systems. Developed and produced with about 170 employees in Neuhausen ob Eck and in Deggendorf, Bavaria. As part of the Gerhard Schubert corporate group, SSE is a globally active family company. Under the product brand Prime Cube, high-quality industrial PCs, panel products, and devices are offered, which can be configured and expanded as required in hardware and software.


FLECS Technologies GmbH is a startup from the Allgäu region and stands behind the open-source project FLECS. FLECS is an innovative automation tool for easy installation of applications on machine controls, including an attached marketplace and communication layer. FLECS is available for all Linux-based systems or virtual machines and offers full transparency and adaptability. The focus is on equipping new machines as well as retrofitting with the help of Edge Devices. Besides machine construction, FLECS is also used in intralogistics, building automation, and mobile work machines.

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