Voith announces the launch of a new Digital Solutions division

Voith indicated a change in strategy a few months ago by announcingthe sale of its maintenance division, Voith Industrial Services, and its acquisition of a 25.1% share in Kuka, a German robot manufacturer, itself expanding into broader automation solutions with a robotics affinity.

Voith’s new Group Division, Voith Digital Solutions, will bring together the company’s expertise in the fields of IT, automation, software and sensor technology. The division will be launched with around 600 employees and approximately €250 million sales volume from preexisting business.

According to Hubert Lienhardt, Voith’s CEO:

“We aim to become an enterprise which will be a major player in shaping the digital transformation of our industries, in the same way that we helped shape the first industrial revolution 150 years ago. With the founding of our Voith Digital Solutions Group Division we are focusing in particular on developing new business models for our existing customer markets as well as on developing new markets and industries which have not previously been served by Voith. We believe that this field offers considerable growth potential for an established technology leader with the sort of broad domain knowledge which Voith has.”

“For example, we are the first provider to be able to achieve complete digital control of paper production; with the help of data analysis, our DIWA SmartNet telemetric systems make it possible for many public transportation operators worldwide to optimize the management of their bus fleets; and our asset management software solutions increase the availability of capital goods, regardless of whether the plants in question are from Voith. Appropriate sensor technology, data collection in real time as well as our data analysis know-how is the key. We will now be expanding these services on a large scale. With the help of our new structure, we will also be in a position to provide our customers in mechanical and plant engineering with entirely new system solutions.”

Voith improved its financial results for the 2014/15 fiscal year, mainly due to the non-consolidation of Voith Industrial Services, where sales dropped and a loss was reported.

A number of industrial technology companies, including ABB and Johnson Controls, have or are in the process of spinning off generic maintenance divisions for a number of reasons. This industry is being restructured through consolidation to improve economics and respond to reducing demand in various sectors, mainly, but not only, in process industries.

We wrote a post which provides context  “A Battle they cannot win – Why many OEMs are retreating from outsourced maintenance services” earlier this year.

Who will win? The acquisition of Stork by Fluor and the coming together of facilities managers and production equipment maintainers to gain scale and diversification provides some indication.  Caverion, for example, is originally a regional FM provider now expanding in Europe, is winning industrial maintenance outsourcing contracts. So are others.


Ford’s vision is to become a mobility services provider

Ford Motor Co is developing new ride-hailing services and investing $4.5 billion to expand its fleet of plug-in and hybrid electric vehicles. The initiatives are part of a broader effort by Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields to counter threats posed by companies offering alternatives to car ownership and regulators who want vehicles to emit less carbon dioxide. Ford’s latest effort to explore the ride-hailing business will take the form of a fleet of specially designed Transit vans that company employees can hail using an app to get rides around the automaker’s sprawling campus in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford executives said their intent is to develop a commercial ride-hailing service, not just to sell vehicles to ride-hailing companies such as Uber or Lyft.

“The market for vehicle miles traveled is $5 trillion,” Fields said on the sidelines of a media presentation at Ford’s Dearborn design center. “We get zero of that.”

Well not quite, Ford is also expanding its GoDrive car sharing business in London

Without offering specifics, Ken Washington, Ford’s vice president of research, said Ford is considering expanding the van-hailing service beyond its corporate campus, offering an alternative to rides in private cars or journeys on city buses.

“Our vision is to be a mobility service provider, beyond building a vehicle that would be in somebody else’s fleet,” said Washington. “We see this as a business we want to be in.”

And here is perhaps an explanation from Autoblog

Thilo Kosloski, the analyst from Gartner Research, predicts that “by 2025, 20 percent of cars will not be owned by an individual.” As more people share cars or rides we’re going to need fewer cars than are on the road right now. In fact, the trend has already started. In Berlin, Germany, there are 10,000 fewer automobiles today than there were a decade ago, even though the city’s population grew by more than 100,000 residents during that time. “By 2025, 20 percent of cars will not be owned by an individual.” Though still in its infancy, the mobility market is growing far faster than the new car market. In the US, car sharing and ride sharing are increasing at a 34-percent compounded annual growth rate. At that rate they could capture 24 million customers by 2025. Talk about a growth industry.

HERE, the mapping service Nokkia sold to a consortium of German auto manufacturers, which is used in many navigation GPS systems plans to develop real time maps, ultimately for self-driving cars.

Going forward, HERE is likely to become more than just a simple navigation service as it plans to incorporate anonymized data from Audi, BMW and Daimler vehicles in order to deliver real-time maps. In a blog post, the HERE team mentioned that availability of new data from various sources will greatly help in the development of next-gen maps. The ultimate goal of the company is to make the map more precise and accurate, bringing it close to a 1:1 scale, which would ultimately make it usable for self-driving cars.

Our post “Tech is eating the car – Servitization is eating everything” provides context on how autonomous, digitization and electric technologies are coming together to servitize and transform the auto industry.


Oil industry woes will lead to industry consolidation

As oil dips below US$ 40/barrel oil production is reducing and investment has declined 2 years in a row, apparently a first in the global oil industry. This is leading to industry consolidation as asset and business valuations decline. According to KPMG published on the BBC’s news site:

Companies with cashflow constraints or big debts “are concluding that weathering the storm of low prices may not be possible for the length of time now forecast. They are now considering mergers and acquisitions at valuations closer to those of buyers, who have until recently kept their powder dry, and we therefore expect an increase in deal flow across the sector.” He said the expectation that the price will be “lower for longer” is stretching into 2016, and making companies less willing or able to operate high-cost fields. “They may be closed down earlier than planned, with a rise in decommissioning work to follow,” said Mr Andrews, describing the industry outlook as “the nightmare before Christmas.The impact could be a domino effect, raising the very real possibility of significant resources being left in the ground, as the cost of maintaining ageing infrastructure mounts for certain mature, late-life assets.”

Note that according to the IEA a recovery in the oil price should not be expected before 2017.

As the profit pools in the oil industry reduce, the effect is passed on to suppliers, in particular engineering and maintenance providers. Consolidation in this sector will accelerate.

Acoustics and IoT/analytics based condition monitoring technology detects leaks in water pipes and saves (a lot of) money for the Las Vegas Water Valley District.

A convergence of environmental monitoring, system automation and infrastructure management, the platform harnesses IoT networking of “smart” sensors and devices using Internet-connected wireless technologies for remote monitoring and management of a large-scale leak detection systems.

Partnering with IBM and AT&T, Echologics and the EchoShore-TX deployment in Las Vegas are part of the Global City Teams Challenge, a program sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technologies that fosters and showcases new technologies to create “smart cities” using IoT connectivity and networking technologies. The Las Vegas deployment incorporates AT&T wireless connectivity to collect, transmit and manage data from the EchoShore-TX monitoring nodes, and IBM-developed software providing an analytics-based water management system with analytical, visualization and reporting capabilities.

Siemens uses 3D Printing to manufacture parts, not just for prototyping

Our Brief on 3D printing  from earlier this year

GE bets on connecting power generation assets to improve portfolio performance

GE’s Digital Power Plant will enable GE customers to transform into a connected utility, harnessing information technologies to optimize the underlying infrastructure that generates electricity. This will transform the way electricity is generated and managed worldwide, helping curb the impact of power production and consumption on the climate. The expected benefits include up to $230 million for a new combined-cycle gas power plant and up to $50 million for an existing combined-cycle gas-powered plant in savings. Across the power industry today, this will equate to up to $75 billion in savings.

Not sure how these savings are calculated though (efficiency, uptime, reduced maintenance etc over the lifetime of the asset?)

The shipping industry fails to invest in condition based maintenance

Just 2 per cent of the shipping industry has fully adopted condition based maintenance (CBM) strategies despite the cost and reliability benefits it brings. According to InterManager secretary general, Kuba Szymanski, much more should be done to educate shipowners in the investment benefits and payback time. “98 per cent of the shipping industry are not ready to invest in CBM,” he said. ”As an industry we need to find ways to invest in CBM and set standards as only 2 per cent of the industry are doing this.”

Drones (as a service?) for surveillance of works sites

Amazon’s instant gratification service aims to disrupt delivery

IoT (as a service?) for lighting solutions: Philips partners with Cisco, SAP and Bosch

IBM predicts sources of food contamination through analytics 


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