Growing with digitalization - Andritz President and CEO Wolfgang Leitner about digitalization
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Growing with digitalization

Parts of society, the economy, and the working environment are changing fundamentally and faster than ever as a result of digitalization. Industrial and plant engineering are also undergoing rapid transformation. What is ANDRITZ’s strategy in this sector, what has it achieved so far, and what plans does the Group have for the future? Answers from President and CEO Wolfgang Leitner.

Mr. Leitner, digitalization seems to be all around us. But to be honest, don’t you get tired of this topic sometimes?

Not at all, the very opposite is true! First of all, digitalization is an evolutionary  development for our industry segment, not a revolutionary one. Automation and remote maintenance, for example, began decades ago, but now both are becoming more intelligent – and this in large strides. There are some impressive examples of how industrial plants can be made more efficient, safer, and more stable, and some can even operate autonomously. ANDRITZ is leading this whole development. We want our plants to take the lead worldwide in terms of automation, efficiency, and intelligence.

What is ANDRITZ actually offering in the digitalization sector?

We have combined all of our digitalization activities under the Metris umbrella brand. Metris covers three large areas: firstly, innovative Industry 4.0 products largely relating to optimization of plants and processes by means of sensor equipment, sophisticated and highly complex data analysis, and augmented reality; secondly, “Smart Services” in order to make online ordering of spare parts, for example, more efficient for our customers; thirdly, the so-called “Ventures” segment, which combines our research and acquisition activities in the digital sector.

Which area has priority for you?

All activities are interlinked – we take a holistic approach to digitalization. As far as operative business is concerned, data analysis and digitally supported plant optimization probably have the greatest leverage. If you can increase production by a few percent or lower variable costs by several percent with a comprehensive software package, this provides a tangible benefit to customers that can be measured in monetary terms.

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The goal is stable, optimized, and largely autonomous plant operation.

Wolfgang Leitner

Can you put a figure on it?

Yes, for our Metris OPP (Optimization of Process Performance) system, for example, which contains a series of digitally supported tools to enhance industrial processes. All in all, we are serving more than 30 customers so far in Brazil, Europe, and since recently also in the USA with this technology. In 2017 alone, we were able to achieve a total net benefit in excess of 30 million euros for all the customers who had an OPP contract with us.

The question remains whether the Industrial Internet of Things will also have a positive impact on the ANDRITZ balance sheet …

If we offer our customers something that is really useful and yields a high return on investment, they are also willing to pay a reasonable price for it. Metris OPP costs significantly less than it contributes in terms of savings and additional production. The basis here is the well-proven software platform developed by ANDRITZ that detects possible optimization approaches from the plant data and implements them on site with the help of our staff. In addition, we have a back-up team of ANDRITZ specialists to provide support and guidance. Implementation and the results are monitored continuously and adapted if necessary – with clear added value for our customers. The goal is stable, optimized, and largely autonomous plant operation. Our customers can choose from a wide variety of products, extending as far as cooperation models. The feedback we have received from the market is very positive, and we are growing with increasing digitalization.

So we can confirm that optimization and efficiency with the aid of digital tools is fundamental to ANDRITZ and its customers. But what is the situation with completely new digital business sectors and products?

First of all, we have a clear maxim: All of the data recorded in the plants is the property of the customer. We guarantee that this data is secure with us. That is why it is important to us to have the highest security standards and why we have invested correspondingly large amounts in the cybersecurity sector. In addition, we only consider business models that relate to the respective customers – for example if their aim is to operate the plant autonomously. Then we provide support in the form of concepts, know-how, technology, and implementation measures. We stick to our services and our business, which is characterized by systems, processes, and intelligence.

Digitalization also changes the inside of a company and the way in which the employees work. How do you experience this at ANDRITZ?

As an interesting challenge. It is important to make innovation as a goal – a cornerstone of our organization on a broad basis. A great deal has happened in this respect in the past few years – in ANDRITZ Innovation Management for example, where each individual employee can contribute ideas forthe development of new products or processes via a software platform. The feedback is very positive, and over 100 ideas are currently being pursued in the form of research and development projects.

What about acquisitions or ventures?

We are working externally with various incubators and startups and have earmarked a few million euros to promote new business models with internal startups. Parallel to this, we are creating an environment for fast tracking – a kind of freeway to bring digital projects forward quickly. However, a large company like ANDRITZ still needs the usual line organization as well. I see ANDRITZ as a company operating at two speeds that we select consciously, with due consideration, and according to the situation in hand.

Let’s look ahead: What technological developments do you find specially promising?

There are quite a few that we are researching and pursuing intensely. Artificial intelligence is certainly very high up on the list. Self-learning systems and neural networks will play a role in our plants, but we must be very cautious here. The logic of a neural network obeys its own set of laws and is no longer easily visible from the outside. It is vital to take this into consideration. Another focus lies on augmented reality applications, which will soon become the standard approach, in maintenance for example.

Where do you see ANDRITZ in ten years’ time, particularly in the age of digitalization?

The deciding factor is to remain basically flexible, curious, and hungry. There are many ways of getting even more out of the systems and thus providing crucial support for our customers so that they can achieve their profitability and sustainability goals. Digitalization can and will make a decisive contribution in this respect. I believe ANDRITZ will have many opportunities to grow in this sector. At the same time, we deliberately do not seek to diversify, but are remaining in our four business areas where we expect continuing, long-term growth potential, and we want to achieve organic growth as well as growing through acquisitions.

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Metris: Digital, all-embracing, forward-looking, and adding value

The digital transformation is close to the top of the ANDRITZ agenda. As a worldwide supplier of cutting-edge technologies and services for selected industries, ANDRITZ has been offering a broad and constantly growing range of innovative products and services in the Industry 4.0 sector under the brand name Metris for many years now. This brand spans the Industrial Internet of Things, B2B Smart Services, and Ventures. All Metris activities are supported by a datalytics team that collects the machine and process data as well as gathering comprehensive engineering and process know-how and analyzing it all with the aid of software and algorithms.

Metris offers effective and intelligent solutions to lead industrial production successfully into the digital age. Processes and data are analyzed, and machines and systems are linked to one another. Custom-tailored, digital solutions that optimize industrial processes are created for customers. The result: Input of resources is kept to a minimum; product quality rises; and shutdowns in production are largely avoided or can be predicted in advance thanks to big data analyses. Plant efficiency and profitability then rise. Thus ANDRITZ makes an essential contribution towards customers achieving their production and profitability targets.

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Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

IIoT is based on the three pillars of technology - Big Data, Smart Sensors, and Augmented Reality.

  • In the big data sector, Metris products calculate any deviations in production or shut-downs in advance by means of data analytics and use this to derive the control actions required. With OPP (Optimization of Process Performance), ANDRITZ has had a system for optimizing plant and equipment operation in the pulp and paper industry for many years. In the Hydro business area, ANDRITZ offers DiOMera - a digital solution for enhancing operation and maintenance of hydropower plants. For the Separation business area, the addIQ product family was developed as a control system for processes and machines.
  • In addition to conventional smart sensor technologies for analysis of measurements and signals, the ANDRITZ portfolio also includes micro and wireless sensors that can be used to optimize operations by analyzing freely selectable machine and system parameters.
  • With augmented reality applications, information is made visible in context where it is needed - which is on the spot at the plant itself.
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B2B Smart Services

With its global Smart Services initiative, ANDRITZ is offering its customers digital service modules such as the Online Spare Part Catalog. It helps customers and ANDRITZ service staff to order spare and wear parts efficiently. The main advantages for customers: All machine data, drawings, operating manuals, and spare parts are available online; spare part offers are received very quickly; and information on the status of an order can be retrieved at any time.

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Ventures

ANDRITZ invests extensively in research and development work on digital solutions that provide added value for the customer. In addition, ANDRITZ participates in startups or collaborates with sparring partners in the IIoT sector. The focus lies on technologies and software developments for large data volume analysis, intelligent sensors, deep learning, augmented reality, and cybersecurity.

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