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Articulating vision clearly and forcefully
Date Published：7/19/2019 10:07:20 PM
Johan Elster, President Business Unit Markets. Image: Bystronic
“The Competence Days is like a Bystronic worldwide exhibition; and just like an exhibition, we want to show who we are, what we are working on, where we are heading, and our vision. Since we call it competence, we show beside new available technologies also some innovation and insights— for example projects and solutions that are not 100% finished but are on the way in our pipeline to be launched,” said Johan Elster, President Business Unit Markets, during an interview with Kathryn Gerardino-Elagio of International Metalworking News for Asia (IMNA). “For Bystronic this is an important event to involve customers in developing new opportunities of sheet metal processing,” he added.
According to Johan, the competence days are usually done at their headquarters the year after Euroblech, which is the biggest international sheet metal exhibition. “We invite customers from all around the world to come here and experience the live demonstrations of our laser cutting, bending and automation technologies,” he explained.
What was obvious at this year's edition is how well Bystronic inspired customers to make choices that enable them to fully automate their operations in multiple shifts, as well as end-to-end solutions that cover cutting, bending, material handling, plus process and data management.
At the factory floor, IMNA witnessed exactly how Bystronic not only presented machines but also vision and concepts for the future. Experts from the company discussed ways they could be the best partner, and how Bystronic sheet metal processing technologies support customers to be ahead of competition.
Vision & Smart Factory
Vision is a powerful aspect Johan touched on in the course of the interview. “Good companies need strong vision. From the vision you define your strategy. This is how we work in Bystronic. We have a strong vision where the industry is going, and this is what we explain to our customers during competence days. Because also our customers need to develop a strong vision for their business,” he said.
Bystronic’s vision is “Smart Factory,” Johan explained. “But there are many intermediate steps toward that vision before customers should jump on the train. Wherever they are in the evolution, we are there to define the different bricks and different steps— that’s our strategy. Our customers do have needs and challenges. Bystronic has a vision. And together with our customers we are moving forward to create the best available solution for them.
Moreover, Johan noted that if customers have a vision they must also define what is missing. “You must have a list of bricks, which you must develop. For example, the architecture for plug and play, the next step after building the plug & play is to connect that to the right automation, flexible enough to produce small batches etc. All these different bricks will be a huge innovation on the journey to an accomplished vision, which is the end picture,” he further noted.
Bystronic today is the most well-known and established supplier for high-power laser cutting machines that are extremely productive, remarked Johan. He stated, “We are also very well known for high-efficiency bending, flexible automation and software. So all these competences are now going to the direction of smart factory.”
The past few years have made Industry 4.0 a favourite buzzword. As it turned out, nobody was quite sure what Industry 4.0 actually is. Everybody agreed that it is something with computers and data in the industry. In sheet metal processing industry, this technology requires a company who can translate it better. Showing real like examples to customers on what they can expect and achieve.
Johan observed, “Industry 4.0 is a buzzword that is used and misused. We define Industry 4.0 through strong connectivity with the machine and also integration of data flow.”
Bystronic translates to its customers what Industry 4.0 is about. He expounded, “We approach clients with data flow from the offering of parts to production, invoicing, delivering, cost of calculation and the connection of all machines necessary to fulfil this process. We try to support them from where they are coming. Some customers have very basic set up, and we shouldn’t talk too much about fully integrated systems. But single steps that are in the same direction. Other clients are more advanced and from there we talk about more visionary and smart factory concepts.”
In the last Euroblech, the company presented example solutions where all process steps and machines are connected. Johan rationalised, “It’s not only digital solutions. Digitalisation for its own normally doesn’t bring any benefit. You need to show the real benefit. Could the customer reduce workforce, could he be fast enough or even be more flexible or could he increase his productivity? We showed real customer benefits for daily business of job shoppers and OEMs. This is what buyers really want.”
Sales, Customise, Delivery
When asked what are the three main ways manufacturers can future proof their factory, Johan said, “First of all, most of our customers are job shops and they don’t have very developed sales structure. We try to offer them solutions on how they can improve sales. This is definitely one direction where we see that they will have to improve.”
The second one is the trend that big batches and mass production is getting less and less. “Products are getting more customised, batches are getting smaller and smaller. How can you produce small batches in a flexible and automated way? That is the big challenge because today you have to do that manually. So flexible automation, I believe will be one of the trends in the future,” he expressed.
The third one is shorter delivery times. “People want their products straightway. Nobody wants to produce for stocks anymore or according to forecast, and this is even more challenging. You have to be fast and you have to be automated. Having said all these points Bystronic is in the direction where the industry is going. We offer concepts and solutions that are very close designed to the needs of our customers,” Johan stated.
For Johan the challenge is what is tomorrow. No one is less ready for tomorrow than the company who holds the most rigid beliefs about what tomorrow will contain.
“We only know what happened yesterday, this we cannot change. We saw a lot of changes happening in the past, and we can assume that it will continue. Probably faster because that has been the trend; so we must be more flexible. The world has also changed for our customers. But for the supplier side, change was more dramatically, mostly because of technology. New players have come to the market and that changes the rules. But I would say for our customers, most of them are still job shops, so as long as big OEMs buy from the job shops and they don’t bypass them and produce by themselves, there will always be room for job shops. But competition of course is increasing, and the intermediate between the supplier and the OEM,” he said.
Bystronic believes on building long-term partnerships. The simple truth is, a company’s ability to inspire customers come down to their willingness to let you do so. If a customer don’t trust the company’s competence, they are unlikely to give your visions any credibility.
“We believe in commitment and trust, in highest quality, in lifetime support and in local expertise. It’s crucial for our customers that their production never stops. Beside latest technologies and high-end solutions also service is a very important aspect. It is this full package that gives customers peace of mind. And this is what we have in mind when we are offering “Best choice” we will support our customers where they are today. We will show them a clear vision and define together with them the next steps for growth, for getting ahead in the competition, for manufacturing metal products smarter and faster than ever before. That’s “Best choice”! Our commitment to all our customers worldwide,” Johan finally said.