Increasing system availability with smart services
Bietigheim-Bissingen, July 2017 – Smart services form one of the pillars of the digital@DÜRR strategy. For Dürr this means enhanced, intelligent services that can be offered through the online connectivity of machines and systems. In the following interview, Dr. Hans Schumacher (President & CEO of Dürr Systems AG) explains how customers benefit from this. And he looks to the future, as digitization will become one of the key distinguishing features among mechanical engineering firms.
Is there a major goal that Dürr wants to achieve with all the smart services?
Our main focus is always to increase our customers' efficiency, and continuously to improve the availability of their equipment. This is where our smart services are extremely helpful. The same goes for our smart products, such as our EcoScreen Maintenance Assistant, which predicts the need for maintenance at an early stage. It also applies to our smart factories. These include manufacturing execution systems, which connect entire plants and enable accurate data analysis. This results in increased availability and makes the entire plant more efficient.
Can you give us a concrete example to explain what you mean by smart service?
Yes, of course. We have been offering our EcoPad tablet PC for a while now, and we are continuously expanding its range of application. For example, if the QR code on our products is scanned using the EcoPad camera, customers can find all important information such as operating instructions, the electronic documentation of each system, and videos on how to service it. If a fault occurs, the system can be filmed, and a solution can be found during a video chat with our service hotline team. If the fault cannot be rectified immediately, the customer will visited by a Dürr service technician, who has received all the relevant information in advance. We now also offer e-learning training modules on our EcoPad. All of these components are services that increase the availability of the system or equipment, and minimize the risk of production losses.
Is transmitting data to a cloud still a contentious issue for your customers?
Here we have to differentiate. It doesn’t matter much to customers from general industry, as very few of them have their own infrastructure for big data. The automotive industry, however, has some reservations about releasing its own production data. But even automotive customers are increasingly prepared to let us analyze their data so that we can offer solutions to problems more quickly.
Are the costs of smart services or smart products a topic of discussion?
Customers are prepared to pay for these services and products as long as they can see the benefit. Advantages like faster response times or predictive maintenance have to be demonstrated. When it comes to digitization, we certainly benefit from our experience, since we have been highly familiar with the production processes of the automotive industry and other sectors for many years. Digitization enables us to increase the efficiency at all levels of production.
Dürr's smart products such as the EcoScreen Maintenance Assistant predict the need for maintenance at an early stage and increase equipment availability for the customer.
What does digitization mean for the internal organization of Dürr?
Our employees are interested in digital operations and want to implement new processes. We are well positioned for this. But we constantly need new people to work in these areas, and software experts have become extremely sought-after in the labor market. That's why we also focus on providing further training to our employees. Digitization offers us and our people clear benefits. Specialists don't need to do as much traveling, for example. With a good digital connection, they can help one customer and then shortly afterwards support the next one. In the past, whenever one of our developers or software specialists had to travel to a plant in China, he was away for several days.
Dürr has been involved in Industry 4.0 for several years and has now intensified its activities in this field. Is Dürr different from other mechanical engineering firms in this regard?
Digitization and Industry 4.0 have become a hot topic. But smaller firms, in particular, still have a long way to go. It requires a great deal of work and a certain financial strength, combined with years of expertise, to network production and develop new business models. Smaller companies are better off cooperating with strong partners rather than relying on existing platforms. We want to be largely independent in these fields – that's why for us this has played a very important strategic role for a long time.