"We are considering business models such as pay-per-shot"
Interview with Nadine Despineux in K-Magazin

On July 1 2018, the KraussMaffei Group formed its new Digital Service Solutions business unit. K-Magazin talked to managing director and president of the new unit, Nadine Despineux, about the group‘s digitalization plans.

Text Sabine Koll, Petra Rehmet  Photos KraussMaffei

K-Magazin

Ms. Despineux, all the major injection molding machine manufacturers are addressing digitalization. However, KraussMaffei has chosen to create a dedicated business unit that is on the same level as injection molding technology, extrusion and reaction technology. Why is that?

Nadine Despineux

It‘s not a question of hierarchy, but of our corporate focus. To put it loosely, our traditional business is based on developing and building the best plastic processing machines. That is the bedrock of our business model. It has been so in the past and will continue to be so in the future.

But we now want to simultaneously apply that very foundation to service area, digital product and new business model propositions. We firmly believe that the combination of mechanical and service excellence will make the difference in our market going forward. Also, we are confident that our worldwide service in particular will be the reason why customers opt for KraussMaffei. Ultimately it is all about creating added value for the customers. An additional factor is that a new business unit will effectively expedite things in that area.

"The combination of mechanical and service excellence will make the difference in our market going forward."

K-Magazin

What does that actually mean, creating added value for the customers?

Nadine Despineux

Take our leasing model for injection molding machines, which we launched last fall. The driver for us was not to develop an amazing new business model, but rather to find a solution to one of the pressing challenges experienced by our customers. Many of our customers are confronted with progressively shorter product cycles. That means when a small or medium-sized plastics processing company buys an injection molding machine under such circumstances, it involves a considerable investment.

In such cases the long service life of a KraussMaffei machine is a de facto competitive disadvantage. So we asked ourselves, what can we do to enable a customer to afford an injection molding machine during a growth phase and then, a few years down the line, have the choice of either giving it back or incorporating it into their machine fleet. Developing solutions such as ‚rent instead of buy‘ is now significantly easier thanks to digitalization.

K-Magazin

Why is digitalization an advantage in this scenario?

Nadine Despineux

Renting the machine in itself is not the solution. The challenge in this concept lies in the fact that used machines may well be returned to us after three or four years, which we will then want to sell on. Our established used machine business plays a major role in that situation.

However, the business model gains a whole new level of impetus through our cooperative work with the Kaiserslautern-based start-up company Gindumac, which operates an Internet platform for used machines. If 50 to 100 machines are returned to us in one go, then marketing via the analog route is an extremely bumpy, protracted and not exactly efficient process. The digital route enables you to simultaneously link up all the supplies and all the demand worldwide – and that is what makes the business model lucrative.

Nadine Despineux, managing director and president of Digital Service Solutions, emphasizes that products and services intermingle if new digital business models are further developed. It‘s all about offering the customer a comprehensive service.

K-Magazin

What other new business models are you contemplating?

Nadine Despineux

The ‚rent instead of buy‘ business model could be expanded upon in the direction of availability guarantee, pay-per-shot or pay-per-use. A machine is ultimately a means to an end. The main priority for the customer is that the machine has a high level of availability – above all, if the machine is used to manufacture critical parts. When I switch on a machine, it must function. If that isn‘t the case, then you have to ask who is responsible for that.

Digitalization opens up new opportunities in this respect. Subscription business models can be very appealing to customers, which we know as a result of intensive discussions with our own customers. These models offer a high degree of flexibility. They are already available in numerous other sectors, but are little exploited within the engineering industry.

"New business modells such as 'rent instead of buy' offer a high flexibility to our customers."

K-Magazin

Does digitalization impact on the classic service portfolio, which is also your area of responsibility?

Nadine Despineux

Absolutely. In private life, customers are used to accessing Internet platforms anytime and anywhere to conveniently order products and have them quickly delivered. They are subsequently informed of every step of the order and delivery service. Customers also want such options from us – and not only for spare parts, in future they will certainly also want that for machines. This also applies for technician services. Customers want an all-round higher level of availability, speed, flexibility and transparency.