Digital Supply Chain, Industry 4.0, Discrete Industries, and the Covid-19 Coronavirus – a chat with Stefan Krauss

We are in a very strange times! On this fourth Digital Supply Chain podcast on the theme of Industry 4.0, I had a chat with Stefan Krauss. Stefan is aSenior Vice President and he heads up discrete industries at SAP, so I was keen to have a conversation with him about the impact of Industry 4.0 on discrete manufacturing.

Of course, given the time we are in right now, we couldn’t avoid discussing the current Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, but we also discussed Industry 4.0, and its effects on industries like Automotive, Industrial Machines and Components, and the Shared Services economy.

Listen to the podcast using the player above, and/or see the full transcript below:

 

Stefan Krauss [00:00:02] This whole crisis also shows that there will be a significant impact on the whole supply chain in the world. And I think this will go way and beyond this crisis that I think companies have to deal with this new world and we need to really rethink the supply chain processes.

 

Tom Raftery [00:00:24] Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the digital supply chain podcast. And I’m your host, Tom Raftery.

 

Tom Raftery [00:00:35] Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Digital Supply Chain podcast. This is one of the series themed around Industry 4.0. And my guest on the show today is Stefan. Stefan, would you like to introduce yourself?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:00:49] Yeah. Tom, thank you. And hello, everybody. My name is Stefan Krauss. I’m heading up discrete industries at SAP and I’m very happy to talk with you guys about, you know, how we perceive Industry 4.0. OK. You people. Yeah. Go on. Yeah, but maybe before we start, I think as you know, we are I think all in the middle of a, you know, serious crisis. Let. Allow me to really, you know, wish everybody listening to this broadcast, you know? All the best. Let’s all stay healthy. Let’s make sure, you know, we take care about ourselves and our families. On the other side, I think this whole crisis also shows that there will be a significant impact on the whole supply chain in the world. And I think this will go way beyond this crisis that I think companies have to deal with this new world and that we need to really rethink the supply chain processes.

 

Tom Raftery [00:01:48] Yeah, that that’s. It’s a good place to start, actually. Stefan, thank you for me for bringing that up. We are in the middle, as you said, of the Coronavirus pandemic at the moment. This is March 18th we’re recording this. I’ll be publishing this early next week. So, some things could even change between now and then. But from everything we’ve been reading, it’s looking like this is going to last a while and, you know, I wouldn’t like to be an airline pilot right now, as I said to you before I turned on the recorder, or I wouldn’t it to be a waiter in a restaurant right now or a chef or a restaurant owner. That’s huge implications all around. You said there in your opening that supply chains are going to be massively impacted by this as well. How can we help there?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:02:41] Yeah, I think and again, due to this this pandemic, I think we already see that some manufacturing facilities have closed. I think they have already a shortage on parts to really, you know, keep production alive on the other side. It’s also about, you know, do you want to have all your employees coming, coming to the factory? So maybe we as a software company have it a little bit more easy as we can really work remote from home. But I think in all those places where really people are coming together, it’s it’s a tough time. And as I said, I think we all really see some impact on the whole supply chain that there is a shortage. So, I think overall, if I look then into the future and and they this term, Industry 4.0 is heavily used around the world. And there are also other names like Smart Manufacturing or Manufacturing 2025. I think the fundamental thing is really in my opinion, about how can companies best serve the individual customer demands their customers have. I think this is for me the trigger, which causes really the that’s a challenge both on supply chain and manufacturing processes to be very flexible, agile, and elastic to really react on changing customer demand. And of course, this is in this crisis even more obvious. How can we react? And really, you know, produce the right things as long as we can really now produce and fulfilling here the customer demand.

 

Tom Raftery [00:04:20] OK. Very good. You mentioned discrete industries, can you for people who are not familiar with the term, tell us a little bit about discrete industries. What are they? Who are the customers you’re dealing with, and what kind of concerns do they have?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:04:35] Yeah, that’s a that’s a very good question. And I think we are famous for using those kinds of abbreviations. So discrete Industries are industries like automotive, industrial machine and components, High-Tech, Aerospace, and Defence. And when I look particular to industrial machinery and components and high tech industries, what I find very interesting is those industries or those companies, you know, being part of those industries have a two kind of roles in Industry 4.0, because on the one side, I think they want to optimise, of course, their own manufacturing process, their own supply chain. But on the other side, I think with their products, they are selling to their customers. And this is, of course, very often a B2B business. I think they are also helping their customers to then establish industry 4.0 scenarios, to connect machines products, to embed more and more software into the machines. So, I think this is a very interesting or two very interesting industries to look at right now, where we see tremendous change in the, you know, the business processes, the business models and how they operate.

 

Tom Raftery [00:05:49] OK. And in what kinds of ways are industry 4.0 helping these companies?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:05:59] I think, as I said before, it is really about end to end pro or end to end processes, we want to look at starting with really the customer demand, the customer order, which you then want to drive in a very again flexible way through your whole manufacturing supply chain processes. And I think we see more and more companies who want to shorten, let’s say, the freezing time where you say customer cannot change order anymore because now it’s really going into the production process. And you want to be maximal flexible to say, I can still take last changes. And, you know, executed through the whole, you know, production process. And this is something where I think Industry 4.0 will help cost our customers to really change those business processes and create the transparency and the flexibility to react. And this goes also, in my opinion, very much from top to down. So very often we say from top floor to shop floor. So, you want to really create full transparency through your entire production processes and facilities around the world, down to an individual factory and then even down to the individual machines to really have that kind of information and transparency, you need to really steer the whole processes.

 

Tom Raftery [00:07:28] So this transparency is this is something that companies are thinking about exposing to their customers?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:07:37] Yeah, of course. I think because an additional trend which we see is that more and more, you know, business models are saying we are not necessarily selling the product to the customer anymore, but we see more and more this operating model the outcome based business processes, which means a manufacturer of a machine, may not sell the machine, but they will install and operate it for their customers. And then, of course, you can take data out of machines IoT data basically out of sensors and end to end to optimise of course, on the one hand side, the performance and the output of the machine, but I think it is also very much of course used for predictive maintenance processes, for example, when billing. Right. And it’s about the uptime. It is about the uptime and productivity of machines. So, you can avoid, you know, long lasting repair time and so on. And then, of course, the billing, which is basically the interesting challenge later on to say, hey, I pay by the hour, I pay by the output, I pay by, you know, the number of products which has been produced with the machine and so on. So, yeah, it’s very interesting how those business models are evolving and changing the entire landscape here.

 

Tom Raftery [00:08:59] Yeah, and can we speak to some good use cases? Cause, you know, we have lots of customers and that there must be some really fascinating stories you can talk to about some users of industry 4.0 technologies.

 

Stefan Krauss [00:09:14] Yeah, absolutely Tom and I think one nice example, it’s a German company called Gephardt Fördertechnik. They are a leading company in internal logistics and they have really created an IoT platform which allows not only again in their own manufacturing facilities, but also when they of course sell their products to their customers to create this transparency and have those, you know, machines and products really connected and have a dashboard visualisation to really observe all, you know, the the the activities going on in the machine. And as I said before, really run predictive maintenance processes and so on. So I think this is a nice example where Gephardt Fördertechnik is using SAP products like SAP Asset Intelligence Network, which allows you to really connect all those assets at the customer site in a network. And here you can track both structural and unstructured data to share it with the I call it the right ecosystem. So, with whomever you decide you want to share those information that can be employees on the customer side, it can be people from Gephardt Fördertechnik who, you know, offers services, could be a third party service providers. So, I think this is, of course, fully managed to say who has access to those information to really, you know, have full transparency about the machines.

 

Tom Raftery [00:10:50] Ok great for our customers. And again, you’re interacting with a good number of them. What are the… I don’t want to say forcing factors, but what are the things that are moving them into this space most? And what are the kind of challenges that are coming across once they start going down, you know, the route of rolling out one of these projects?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:11:16] Ha! This is another very interesting topic. And I just recently had a meeting with our senior management of industrial machinery company. And they are super successful, let’s say, in their current business. So, they are growing every year. Nice business. Still, of course, top management is saying we cannot just lean back and say, hey, this will be the future. So, for them, it’s really about rethinking. Also, you know, what will be our product offerings here in the future? It’s going even beyond saying, you know. Today they very much sell individual products into we sell solutions. We sell something which the combination of products and services, embedded software. We operate it. So, this this this business model. And I think are a major challenge those cost companies face is I think they might be all very experienced in innovation when it comes to, you know, develop and innovate the next product. Most companies are not necessarily, you know, used to say, I also need this business model innovation. How are we changing the company? And there’s a lot of resistance, of course, on middle management, on let’s say employee level, because for them, they still say, hey, why do we have to change? We are so successful today. This is something, I think where I think top management, and this is also a lot of discussions I think where SAP comes into the game. But also, you know, the strategy consulting companies to really help customers on what I think a lot of people call digital transformation. And how can we really define and and let’s say, articulate those changes through all the entire company. And it really starts with the employee level and then it starts with the skills we need here in the future. So, I think we also see that companies, of course, hiring more and more, for example, I.T. experts, even if they are a machinery company or an automotive company. So, they need a shift in skills.

 

Tom Raftery [00:13:23] I saw the CEO of Volkswagen, whose name has just gone out of my head. Say yes. Herbert Deiss. He said just the other day. Well, that is a couple of weeks ago now. He said that Volkswagen is going to have to become a software company. I mean, that’s a huge change and I mean, he’s been forced into that position by the likes of Tesla and the complete upheaval of the automotive industry. But it just to exactly your point to hear Herbert Deiss say that Volkswagen needs to become a software company. That’s amazing.

 

Stefan Krauss [00:13:57] Yeah. I think he is right. And there are other companies also when we look to some of these Start-Up companies building now the e-cars. I have talked to one. I think they are located in Asia and they say. Our goal is not to produce a car. Our goal is to produce the next screen, the fourth screens, so you have the iPhone and you have maybe the desktop at that stuff. But the car will also act as an environment where people can either work or, you know, of course, enjoy movies and whatever. And then, of course, it’s somehow driving. And I think this is a totally shift in mindset. And yes, of course, Tesla is it’s nicely leading this nowadays. It’s also very interesting when you compare so normally, I think I don’t know how long you drive your car, but, you know, we buy a car and we drive a car for three, four, five, six years. And in the past, you know, you had the car like you bought it. Maybe little accessory here and there. But the features, I think was built in how you ordered the car. Now, in this this software world, you can activate certain components later on. Maybe you have some money left and then you want to invest here into this and that. And I just what you know, funny enough, somebody was was selling or let’s say another one was buying and such and such an E-car and all of a sudden, certain software pieces were deactivated. That’s right. That’s a discussion about use rights. Then later on. So, you get a physical car. But let’s see what really software options are activated or gets deactivated. Yeah.

 

Tom Raftery [00:15:39] I was on the game changers radio show yesterday talking about the future of automotive. And I said we’re seeing I called it the iPhonification of the automotive industry. And I referenced exactly your point about how Tesla are now converting also into a software as a service company, where, to your point, they’re able to turn on or turn off the utility of parts of the car. And it’s where they turn it the car into a platform for software sales. And obviously, it makes it easier for Tesla if they have a single SKU of model and they say they differentiate by the features that are turned on or off in software. So that that makes the manufacturing far easier for them and it gives them a completely different sales model that they sell you a a car, and based on how much you pay, you get X features turned on and or not, and then you can have them turned on later. And of course, I suspect it will be a matter of time before like the iPhone, they open up an app store to developers to develop apps to sell on the car. And this this will completely change how automotive the automotive industry works. And it’s only possible through the likes of the the technologies that we’re talking about.

 

Stefan Krauss [00:17:08] Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. And I think this has a lot of pros, but it may have also some cons. And we have discussed this also with other, you know, customers of us, because I think we also need to consider maybe whether you are in the volume business, like of course you, you have one SKU and then of course, you sell it in a high volume. The question for, you know, industrial machinery companies where of course, we don’t actually have that kind of volume in all the different segments, is it still, because the business fundamentals are still valid right? It is really about, you know, top line and bottom line at the end of the day. And to just say now I have maybe a machine where I have built all the options in, and the options cost money, of course. And then the customer may activate it or may activate it later or even not, it’s not necessarily a good business case if you’re not really in a volume business. So, I think that is not the one answer to everything right now. And this is why, again, I think customers or companies really have to throw a think through on, you know, what of those new business trends and models will really stay relevant, relevant in the meaning of creates, you know, business value and business outcome for them later on. And we see already first all the automotive companies who started, for example, with mobility services, and they stopped it already by saying, oh, looks doesn’t look like a good business case for us. So, this very interesting times where I think it’s very much about also, you know, testing, trying failure, you know, adopting and then and it’s not the continuous improvement business. Many companies have been in for so many years.

 

Tom Raftery [00:18:59] Yeah, it’s it’s challenging. And something just occurred to me the other day as well. The whole idea of the shared services industry is going to be, I suspect, massively hurt by Coronavirus, I mean, are you going to want to get into a car that you don’t know who’s been in it before you?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:19:18] You’re right. Just thinking about it as you said it. Yeah, because I was just reading this morning in the newspaper that, you know, people are asked to, of course, use more and more their cars and not maybe, you know, public trains and buses and so on. And then, of course. Yeah. That’s also very true what you said on those kind of, you know, mobility services. Yeah.

 

Tom Raftery [00:19:39] Yeah. Yeah. That I suspect they’ll take a huge hit. Stefan, we’re coming to the end of the podcast we are at about 19 minutes now, I just said I’d ask you; is there anything that I have not asked you that you think I should have?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:19:57] I think we could talk about this this very interesting topic for hours and hours. I know. I know. Happy we if you want, we can also follow up. But no, no, I think for today, I think we covered the main points. And maybe to summarise it from my point of view. What we see this is not about technology. It’s about really business value. I think companies want and need to achieve. And this is where I think we see leading companies already, you know, heavily in and where, of course, laggards may need to follow. And it’s all about not only the processes, I think it’s also how to use all this data which are available nowadays coming from IoT sensors and so on and so on from the Internet and make good business usage and value out of that. I think this is my, you know, maybe suggestions or, you know, kind of credo companies should look at. And this is also, of course, where we as SAP want to help many companies on this digital transformation, both on a business process talk, but also then, of course, with our solution and service offerings we bring here to the table.

 

Tom Raftery [00:21:13] Super, Stefan, if anyone wants to find out more about Stefan or about discrete industries or about any of the other things. Where should I direct them to go and any links you give me, I can embed them in the in the in the description of the show notes. So, fire away. Where should you, where would you like me to send people?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:21:36] Yeah, I think of course, happy to share with you. I think you all can find me on LinkedIn, of course, Stefan Krauss and Krauss with double S. So, I think it’s a very common name. But also, I think please join SAP’s, you know, SAP.com and then you can find via the link to industries. A lot of those kind of, you know, trends and of course, of solution offerings we have. You can find nice whitepapers which we have written for all of our industry to translate basically those trends which we see in industries into, you know, how SAP can support here. So, I think that what would be my two main sources I would like to point you to.

 

Tom Raftery [00:22:18] Perfect. Perfect. Stefan, that’s been great. Thanks a million for coming on the show today.

 

Stefan Krauss [00:22:22] Thank you very much Tom. See you soon again. And have a great day. And please all stay healthy. That’s is most important.

 

Tom Raftery [00:22:30] Indeed. Indeed.

 

Tom Raftery [00:22:33] OK. We’ve come to the end of the show. Thanks, everyone, for listening. If you’d like to know more about digital supply chains, head on over to SAP.com/DigitalSupplyChain or simply drop me an email to Tom.Raftery at SAP.com. If you’d like to show, please don’t forget to subscribe to it in your podcast application to get new episodes right away as soon as they’re published. And also, please don’t forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.

 

And if you want to know more about any of SAP’s Digital Supply Chain solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/digitalsupplychain and if you liked this show, please don’t forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover it. Thanks.

 

 

 

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