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Service management in focus at the wvib mechanical engineering advisory board meeting at AP&S

On October 8, 2020 AP&S International GmbH opened its doors to host the first analogous meeting of the mechanical engineering advisory board of wvib Schwarzwald AG. The Advisory Board was established on April 28th of this year and is composed of companies of different sizes, product areas and regions of the association's territory.

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"More than 300 of our 1,051 member companies from medium-sized industrial companies in Baden-Württemberg are mechanical engineering companies. With annual sales totaling 20 billion euros and 100,000 employees worldwide, they need an innovation-friendly environment in these challenging times in order to remain a job guarantor and growth engine. Unfortunately, politics too often proves to be hostile to small and medium-sized companies. This is where we take action and will be speaking out audibly in the future," says wvib CEO Dr. Christoph Münzer.

To be an impulse driver for the industry and to ensure the exchange of experiences - 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 of AP&S started the event with their joint presentation "New business models with digital service management". The 'As-a-Service' model was reviewed in detail. The business model, which describes the flexible rental of services in return for recurring fees, has been successfully practiced by IT companies and the automotive industry. Interest in this rental model is now also growing among machine manufacturers. Why is it like this? First of all, there are the convincing advantages of "as-a-service", both on the customer and the manufacturer side: the customer no longer has any capital and investment costs, but only user fees and bears no responsibility for the care, maintenance and repair of the rental property. For the manufacturer, the machines become "easier to sell", as the high investment for the purchase is no longer necessary. By offering customer-oriented rental and payment models, the company expands its service portfolio, creates closer customer loyalty and thus competitive advantages. The turnover is stabilized by recurring payments, and this also applies to the cash flow.

The second decisive point why "As-a-Service" is becoming interesting for the mechanical engineering industry 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. If one decides to offer industrial machines as rental objects, customer benefits, costs and price calculations as well as the coherences and development of these must be clear. This is only possible, if data relating to machines, customers and service operations is reliably networked, recorded and evaluated. AP&S presented integrated solutions for this purpose, including condition monitoring, machine learning (prediction of machine downtimes with predictive maintenance using sensors) and industrial APPs for spare parts management and service calls. All of the above-mentioned solutions were developed and put into practice at AP&S, in cooperation with its sister company tepcon, a digitalization expert for B2B.

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion and, as a result of the constituent advisory board meeting, the definition of new formats, such as training offers and information, which will be offered to mechanical engineering companies in the wvib network as support for service management in the future.

"It was a successful event with exciting discussions and interesting incentives for further tasks in the wvib mechanical engineering advisory board. For me personally, it was particularly pleasing that we (20 participants in total) were able to meet again in person despite the current Covid 19 situation. Although this required extensive preparation including the development of a detailed hygiene concept, it was definitely worth it", says Alexandra Laufer-Müller in conclusion to the wvib meeting.