Digital changes have an impact at different levels in the companies. Optimization of the entire value chain by progressively automating and increasingly networking production facilities and processes is well underway. However, digitalizing the value chain not only alters workflows in production and the accompanying processes, but also the products themselves. This also creates opportunities to increase customer value by offering supplementary services.
The Internet of Things brings many advantages. In fully digitalized households of the future the bed will communicate with the alarm clock, the alarm clock with the coffee machine, and the fridge will automatically update the shopping list on the smartphone. Using a smartphone to digitally control heating systems and blinds as well has been the state-of-the-art for some time now. The companies in the voestalpine Group are also making use of the potential offered by digitalization, in order to optimize processes and introduce new products and services.
Digital turnouts think ahead
The textbook example which best demonstrates how our Group is managing the transformation from standard analog goods to digital high-tech products is probably the turnouts which are vital to efficient railway transport. Formerly these turnouts had to be mechanically adjusted by hand, their only function being to change tracks. Today the turnout specialists at voestalpine offer their customers worldwide systems which not only offer remote operation and control, but also enable the intelligent monitoring of trains and predictive self-diagnostics.
Services supplement products
But it is not only the products themselves which are being digitalized and web-enabled. The more the entire value chain is digitalized, the greater the quantities of data that become available. In turn, in certain cases this data can be used to develop new services and offerings. For example, for predictive maintenance or as a basis for innovative simulation technologies.
Single pieces and small batches
Digitalization also enables existing offerings to be customized, and new ones to be developed. 3D printing is playing an increasingly important role in small batch production, the manufacture of single pieces, and rapid prototyping. voestalpine is using its combined materials expertise and establishing further research centers and plants to develop additive manufacturing technologies.