Industrial Manufacturers: Stories Of Innovation

Judy Cubiss

Industrial manufacturers may not be top of mind when discussing innovation and disruption (think: grease, noise, sparks, and wrenches) – but that is an oversight. There is a huge amount of innovation happening within manufacturing regarding both the type of the products being designed (which are helping address some of the sustainability and environmental issues) as well as the processes to manufacture and sell them.

At the 2019 SAP Innovation Awards, which celebrate the achievements of top companies and people across the globe that are transforming their businesses, driving innovation, and winning in the digital economy, manufacturers are front and center.

Kaeser Kompressoren: Delivering air as a service

For its 100th birthday, Kaeser Kompressoren gave itself a gift that it expects will keep on giving both to its own and its customers’ bottom lines. The German company, which provides compressed air equipment and services to the construction industry and other markets, is investing in digital capabilities like the Internet of Things, connectivity, machine learning-guided predictive tools, and more to remake itself into an intelligent enterprise.

Kaeser’s 2019 planned global launch of a compressed-air-as-a-service offering is the latest manifestation of an ongoing transformation that began five years ago and another example of how companies in the industrial manufacturing industry are embracing the intelligent enterprise as a model for sustaining growth in a business that is increasingly customer-, outcome-, and data-driven. Building on a successful 2018 pilot program, Kaeser’s air-as-a-service offering is the result of a company strategy to fully digitize its supply chain and create new operating efficiencies and revenue streams in the process. Rather than purchasing and operating compressor equipment themselves, customers pay Kaeser based on the air they consume, leaving Kaeser responsible for maintaining the equipment throughout its lifecycle.

The turnkey service depends heavily on “digital twin” modeling, whereby data generated by sensors on the equipment is used to create a dynamic virtual “twin” of that equipment. Powered by machine learning, the digital twin simulates the operation of its physical twin, giving Kaeser the real-time predictive insight it needs to anticipate issues before they occur, and thus to deliver higher equipment uptime to customers. Ultimately, Kaeser gets a viable new revenue stream along with a bevy of satisfied customers, while those customers benefit from increased equipment reliability, greater cost certainty, and substantial capex relief.

For the full story, click here.

Gebhardt Fördertechnik: On the path to next-generation intralogistics

Conveyer systems are the backbone of many manufacturing sites. Gebhardt, another German company, has over 65 years of experience in conveyor technology and offers end-to-end support of conveyor systems for the transport, assembly, and storage of goods. Reliability of these systems is critical as downtime, especially unexpected, of conveyor systems due to required maintenance or system failures immediately translates to delayed production and potential revenue loss for their customers. Focusing on customer service and satisfaction, Gebhardt aimed to reduce maintenance to a bare minimum and provide full transparency over plant conditions to identify and replace faulty parts as soon as possible. It had the vision to use IoT technology to create a smart warehouse and developed a new platform called Galileo IoT. It provides a portal so customers can evaluate data on all components at a facility. This portal provides real-time situational awareness of the entire facility, while embedded predictive algorithms allow customers to anticipate and plan maintenance work.

Karl Denz, head of manufacturing tools for Gebhardt Fördertechnik GmbH, says:

“Predictive maintenance and augmented reality glasses hugely simplify machine inspection. We have now virtually eliminated unplanned downtime.”

“Digital twin” technology is also something created using the data generated by sensors. This 3D digital twin of the plant allows changes in the systems to be tracked and any modifications or extensions tested. In true Star Trek fashion, Gebhardt is also using augmented reality glasses (HoloLens) so technicians can see a full view of technical data in a holographic 3D model. With these intelligent technologies, Gebhardt has enabled the digitization of its customers so it can help them avoid failures, plan maintenance better, and cut costs. It wants to enable customers to create their own personal smart factory quickly and efficiently and is also looking for ways to retrofit existing machines and integrate third-party equipment.

This is the journey Gebhardt is on to develop new business models as it moves away from being a simple supplier towards being a comprehensive service provider for intralogistics. Read more here.

Outcomes like these – in which digital approaches are opening up new competitive vistas and new opportunities to deepen relationships with customers and supply chain partners – are becoming more frequent for manufacturers. The intelligent enterprise concept provides the blueprint for companies in the industrial manufacturing industry to optimize, extend, and transform their businesses.

Read more about the intelligent enterprise for the industrial machinery and components industry.

See all finalists for the SAP Innovation Awards.


Judy Cubiss

About Judy Cubiss

Judy Cubiss is Global Marketing Lead for Industrial Machinery and Components and Automotive at SAP. She has worked in the software industry for over 20 years in a variety of roles, including consulting, product management, solution management, and content marketing in both Europe and the United States.