We have been talking for some time about the digitization of the industrial processes adjacent to the workshop, such as quality, marketing, human resources, etc. In this line is the digitization of sales processes and, specifically, of the online sale of industrial machinery and Equipment Online.
The European project MARKET4.0, in which TECNALIA participates, is working on the creation of a European online platform for the commercialization of industrial equipment. The European machinery and equipment manufacturing industry is the largest industrial sector in terms of number of companies (around 174,000 companies, mostly SMEs) in the EU, accounting for a third of manufacturing processes and directly employing about 4 million people.
The total annual production of the sector amounts to more than 800 B €. Europe accounts for 36% of the world market, being the largest producer and exporter of machinery in the world and the machinery subsector is the largest in terms of wealth creation, representing 52.2% of the added value generated.
On the other hand, the market is shifting. While a few years ago Europe was the main market together with the USA, the following figure indicates that today China, the USA, Japan, and South Korea are four of the five main consumers of machine tools.
The sale in these distant markets cannot be done from Europe and requires positioning in the destination countries. Either through commercial offices or by moving commercial and technical personnel. Both options involve a very long maturation period, expert training in foreign markets, and significant human effort.
We can conclude that the sale of equipment online is a complementary and useful solution.
Challenges in Selling Equipment Online
We all understand that it is not the same to buy a €200 mobile on an online platform as a €1 million device. But if we break down the purchase process, we can divide it into two parts:
- Technical decision making: this phase is the longest and most difficult in purchasing a computer. It involves evaluating all the equipment on the market, evaluating the suppliers, and making a decision balancing a multitude of variables such as the productivity of the equipment, its speed and its reliability, the quality of the part produced, the number of parts per cycle. This phase also includes the decision on the extra functionalities that the equipment should have based on the buyer’s requirements.
- Commercial negotiation: this phase includes the agreement on the price and the conditions of the contract (the “small print”), delivery period, guarantee, payment conditions, payment methods, penalties. After a thorough analysis, we have come to the conclusion that commercial negotiation -to date- requires people to be fluid and agile.
But technical decision-making can be accelerated through online digital platforms where the buyer can evaluate the characteristics of the equipment using digital tools and the seller can propose innumerable solutions. And not only speed up the process over time but also make decision making more agile and friendly.
As a simple example to illustrate this idea, suppose that a buyer needs equipment but space in the workshop is limited. A digital platform can allow the buyer to report the space in the workshop -by means of a CAD- and the equipment sellers to propose their equipment -with its corresponding simplified CAD-. A virtual reality simulation or visualization tool allows evaluating which of the equipment fits into the dimensions of the client’s workshop, informing him and allowing him to make a first decision filter. It’s fast, it’s simple, and it’s useful.
Application to Different Sectors
Different manufacturing sectors demand different types of solutions. And that entails different types of data. It is easy to understand that simulating the dynamic behavior of a machine is not the same as the behavior of a fluid entering a mold. And to this variability, we must add the different types of materials – metallic, plastics, nanomaterials, food.
The platform is capable of addressing the different sectors, their different processes, and the different materials that a team can work with. MARKET4.0 has developed a distributed application and data structure, where solution providers demand from equipment providers – or their customers – the data necessary to provide a service.
The platform has been developed in such a way that any equipment or service provider can connect in a friendly way. In this way, the platform will grow exponentially as it incorporates new suppliers, both for equipment and services.
In the current situation, the platform allows filtering equipment suppliers based on the size of the part to be manufactured or its material. It also allows a comparison of the productivity of different machines in different processes (laser sheet cutting, additive manufacturing …) to evaluate the equipment that best adapts to the productive needs of the client. And it allows for connectivity analysis of the equipment with the client’s plant management tools or to design the services that the equipment must provide. With this, the platform is simplifying the customer’s decision-making when choosing the equipment that best suits their needs.
But, above all, the platform is ready to incorporate new services that add value to the customer.
Any service or equipment provider can connect to the platform. In fact, MARKET4.0 is going to allocate approximately € 2.5M in the next 18 months to help companies connect their repositories or services. If you are interested, please contact TECNALIA.
The first phase of the platform will be operational in October 2020. It will be followed by a validation phase of data repositories and services that will last a year and a half, after which it will be ready to be exploited.
for More Articles Visit Globally Engaged