Digital services from OEMs

Business models in machine manufacturing will change under the influence of Industrie 4.0. In future, digital services will become increasingly important alongside the sale and maintenance of machines and systems. Lenze is paving the way for this development with its Asset Management application. More software, more connectivity, more IT –  these are the requirements linked to Industrie 4.0. Achieving these things means acquiring more components. But do they justify the outlay? Can the customer gain any economic benefit from them? Machine manufacturers often doubt it, because if we apply the traditional standards it does not add up.  

The mechanisms we used in the past – the economic use of resources, improvement in quality, speeding up processes – do not offer enough improvement potential to justify higher investments. But the merging of IT and OT is making it possible to create new digital services that can bring about a dramatic increase in productivity and other advantages.  
Edgar Schüber, Managing Director of the Lenze subsidiary logicline, is familiar with the uncertainty surrounding this issue: “Everyone is talking about it. But hardly anyone knows what they need to do in order to reap the benefits.” 

The advantages of predictive maintenance, for example, are beyond dispute: it makes it possible to avoid unplanned machine downtimes and to improve the planning of service work. It cost-optimises maintenance and service intervals and improves the management of spare parts. This means that the machine manufacturer now has to market this improved productivity – not in terms of installed hardware, but as an intelligent service. This business model does require some changes to the infrastructure, though. There has to be comprehensive connectivity and also a secure location where all the data on the relevant components can be collected and made available for use. Schüber calls this the “Single Point of Truth” – it is the location of current, reliable data that provides the basis for all the related digital services. 

Lenze and its digitalisation subsidiary logicline have already developed an Asset Management application that provides such a secure data location. In an inventory of the entire machine, all the relevant machine components (also known as assets) are catalogued on site in the Lenze Asset Management software together with their serial number, device identification, function area, and photos of their installation location. This data set is then enhanced with information on such things as delivery times and availability, maintenance intervals, the life-cycle of the components and documentation such as operation handbooks, to name just one example of many. This creates a digital profile of the machine which can serve as the basis for different services. 

This already has clear benefits for users today. They can, for example, quickly access the digital handbook if a fault occurs, and find the relevant pages in a text search instead of looking for the right bookshelf and then searching the pages. If a component has to repaired or replaced, a service application to Lenze can be made within the Asset Management software. All the relevant asset information, for example configuration variants (left/right), is automatically transmitted, which precludes mistaken orders or time-consuming queries. 

Other data from the Asset Management application make the engineering easier and more precise for the machine manufacturer. He can also make his services more efficient and acquire new sources of revenue and new customers through an expanded set of services. “The bottom line is that the OEM in future will be selling his know-how together with his infrastructure,” says Edgar Schüber. “And we are offering him all the basic tools he needs to be able to do that.” 
Lenze is presenting the Asset Management solution at the Hannover Messe 2018 in Hall 14, at Stand H22.

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