On October 8, 2020, AP&S International GmbH from Donaueschingen-Aasen opened its doors to host the first analogous meeting of the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board of wvib Schwarzwald AG. The advisory board was launched on April 28 of this year and is made up of companies of different sizes, product areas and regions in the association's territory.
"More than 300 of our 1,051 member companies from Baden-Württemberg's industrial SME sector are mechanical engineering companies. With their total annual sales of 20 billion euros and 100,000 employees worldwide, they need innovation-friendly framework conditions in these challenging times in order to remain revolving as a job guarantor and growth engine. Unfortunately, politics is too often hostile to SMEs. This is where we come in and will make our voice heard in the future," says wvib CEO Dr. Christoph Münzer.
Providing impetus for the industry and ensuring the exchange of experience - following this objective, the industry-moving topic of service management was the focus of the wvib event. Alexandra Laufer-Müller / CEO, Christoph Kluge / Head of Software Development and Tobias Drixler / Vice President After Sales & Services Development from AP&S kicked off the event with a joint presentation entitled "Digital service management for new business models". Here, the 'As-a-Service' approach was put under the microscope. This business model, which describes the flexible leasing of services in return for recurring fees, is being used with great success by IT companies and in the automotive industry. Interest in this rental model is now also growing among machine and plant manufacturers. Why is this so? Firstly, there are the convincing advantages of "as-a-service", both on the customer and on the manufacturer side: the customer no longer has any capital and investment costs, only usage fees, and bears no responsibility for the care, maintenance and repair of the rental object. For the manufacturer, the equipment becomes "easier to sell", since the high investment for the purchase, is omitted. By offering customer-oriented rental and payment models, the company expands its service portfolio, creates closer customer ties and thus competitive advantages. Sales are stabilized by recurring payments, and so is the cash flow.
The second decisive point why "as-a-service" is becoming interesting for mechanical engineering is the increasing digitalization of industry, also known as Industry 4.0, which makes the introduction of "as-a-service" in mechanical engineering possible in the first place. After all, if you want to offer industrial plants as rental objects, customer benefits, costs and price calculations as well as the interrelationships and development of these must be clear for this. This can only be achieved by reliably networking, recording and evaluating data relating to machines, customers and service operations. For this purpose, AP&S presented holistic solutions including the areas of condition monitoring (machine condition monitoring), machine learning (prediction of plant failures with predictive maintenance using sensors) and industrial APPs for spare parts management and service calls. These were developed by AP&S in cooperation with its sister company tepcon, a digitalization expert for B2B, and put into practice at AP&S.
The presentation was followed by a discussion among the participants and, as a result of the constituent advisory board meeting, the definition of new formats, such as further training courses and information, which are to be offered to mechanical engineering companies in the wvib network in the future as support on the topic of service management.
"It was a successful event with exciting discussions. For me personally, it was particularly pleasing that we (a total of 20 participants of the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board) were able to meet face-to-face again despite the current Covid 19 situation. Although this required extensive preparation, including the development of a detailed hygiene concept, it was well worth the effort," concludes Alexandra Laufer-Müller on the wvib meeting.