The goal is stable, optimized, and largely autonomous plant operation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 for the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
IIoT is based on the three pillars of technology - Big Data, Smart Sensors, and Augmented Reality.
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.
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.