Digital transformation at FACO Metalltechnik
There is a lot of talk about digital transformation, but what are the implications for business management and each individual?
The importance of digital development is undisputed. An early realization is also that digital innovation must be affordable and not a priority per se. Modern machines with digital connectivity and a high degree of technical intelligence are cost-intensive and only worthwhile if utilization is consistently high. One of our considerations was to purchase a new, modern press brake that would allow faster, digital planning and programming of control steps from the desk. We decided against the six-figure purchase because the payback period was still too long for us.
Going digital means severely limiting the use of physical documents and storing everything centrally. This works very well. In the meantime, one employee has become a process manager. This activity accounts for about 70% of his working day. For example, he takes care of adapting our BüroWARE ERP software so that all customer information can be found in one place and viewed quickly. This includes invoices, contact information, orders, CAD drawings and order changes. Digitizing documents doesn't sound very difficult at first. However, we had to learn in complex coordination processes that it also involves synchronizing interfaces to suppliers and customers and extends into structures outside the company.
We are currently setting up large screens on our production machines to save CAD printouts and improve the detailed display. The changeover will take about six months, and when it is completed we will have more effective production.
There are also exceptions where we ignore the return on investment. 3D printing fascinates us, but at the moment it does not play a role in future business models. Nevertheless, we are looking into purchasing a device to stay on the technological ball and learn new things.
Our online store features standard perforated sheet products with detailed product descriptions. However, the store remains a compromise solution for us, because we always offer at daily prices and it is necessary to contact us. In addition, our usually extensive and individual solutions of prefabrication are not to be represented with a store system.
For large inquiries we prefer to communicate "conservatively" by phone. Experience shows that nothing beats close personal contact with the customer.
Other industries are ahead of ours in terms of innovation leadership. On the one hand, that's good, because digital innovation pressure doesn't threaten our existence as soon as a new technology isn't implemented immediately. But how do we weigh up what is relevant for us? Our customers are the focus. The satisfaction of those we work with every day is our first priority. Digitization is definitely an important part of our work. But it is not an end in itself and changes must always benefit our customers 100% in the end.