Smartify the Industry 4.0 Way

14.06.2021 by Daniel Kunz
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As smart manufacturing gains momentum, data-driven business models based on the Internet of Things are adding smart services to complement products – and improve the customer experience. Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG shows how to go about it.

Lease rather than buy is a business model that is trending in engineering, and Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG is the best example of the trend. Monthly leasing payments enable customers of the precision machinery manufacturer to save on capital investment and credit financing. They earn the company regular income and service as an additional income stream. Heidelberger Druckmaschinen installs the machines and connects them with its IT. It also handles maintenance and repairs, checks the filling levels of ink and paper and even orders replenishments.

The Internet of Things (IoT) plays a crucial role in this process. Machines are equipped with sensors that record consumption data and the condition of the machine. This data is sent to the manufacturer via an IoT gateway. It enables the printing machine to be billed precisely and notifies the provider of servicing or replacement order requirements.

User-Centered Like Merchandise for Private Customers

Kaeser, a market-leading manufacturer of compressed air equipment, offers this new, IoT-based business model as Compressed Air as a Service. Customers pay only for the compressed air they consume. These as-a-service models originated in the software industry. Applications are frequently no longer installed on the user’s computer; they are provided via the Internet as a service from the cloud. In much the same way, Kaeser, Heidelberger & Co. no longer sell products first and foremost; they sell comprehensive services.

They are good examples of “smartification,” which makes products intelligent by means of networking and bonds users closer to the manufacturer via additional services. In industrial production the generic term is smart manufacturing, often also known in Germany as Industry 4.0. This trend goes back to the typical customer experience in the private customer sector, where the user-centered approach means, for example, ease of interaction with the customer via, say, Web shops or smartphone apps (see chart).

Data Analysis Breeds New Business Models

Networking via the IoT means more than adding B2B services to products, however. Heidelberger Druck AG, for example, can deduce from machine data other information such as the printing company’s capacity utilization. It has used this data to launch an information service, the Print Industry Climate Index. It analyzes anonymized data from about 5,000 customers in different segments of the print media industry around the world. It primarily reflects the output of commercial printers and printing machinery in packaging and logistics.

Heidelberger Druckmaschinen developed this free service at the request of a number of customers. They wanted to know which market segments and countries were affected especially strongly by the corona crisis. It clearly indicates the potential of data-based business models that build on connecting products. Supplementary services such as monitoring of plant and machinery are especially effective, but pure data products are possible in many instances, as Heidelberger’s offering demonstrates.

Using Internet of Things solutions, the transformation from a pure producer to a manufacturing service provider will also succeed. Discover the areas in which we can support you with our solutions and how successful companies are already using the IoT for themselves today.
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Daniel Kunz
Daniel Kunz

Expert Digital Marketing

Digitization and the Internet of Things are among the favourite topics of Daniel Kunz. He has been with Deutsche Telekom since 2017 and regularly writes about technology trends and many exciting topics, especially for the retail trade and the logistics industry.