30.06.2020 / Reto Hofer

Smart Factory meets Smart Services

Under the “smart services" motto , Muller Martini will be presenting three new services from its extensive range at drupa: MPower, MMRemote and the Life Cycle Management Program. Goal: We want to offer even better support to our customers by means of smart data processing and the associated services to enable them to produce more efficiently.

“I found out what smart factory means after reading Trond Erik Isaksen's blog, but what are smart services?” you might be asking yourself.
Short and concise answer: Smart services are services that allow you to optimize your production processes and thereby increase your efficiency.

“Ah, so it's about getting out my wallet,” you may reply. To which I would reply: Of course your garage wants to earn money with services, but you wouldn't want to have a breakdown in the middle of the street with a faulty car.

MPower: The next (service) evolution
At the heart of our new smart services is the MPower customer portal, which will be available to a much larger customer base. Up to now, Muller Martini has focused its MMservices program services mainly on the machines – i.e. saddle stitchers, perfect binders, booklines, thread sewing and printing presses. The MPower customer portal gives us the opportunity to enhance existing service products or to develop completely new ones through the targeted use of data. We are igniting the next (service) level so to speak, whereby we specifically support our customers in optimizing their increasingly complex processes – thereby creating a win-win situation.

Although MPower already existed, the application was only available to a limited number of customers. By integrating the application into the cloud, the number of potential customers has suddenly risen to over 1,000 because that is how many graphic businesses are already active in our web shop. They will all receive the MPower link from Muller Martini in the run-up to drupa. Our clear goal is that a large proportion of all customers in Europe will be connected to the new tool by the end of the year. Our ultimate goal is to enable all customers worldwide to use the customer portal for their specific needs and, in doing so, make their day-to-day work easier.

What is running optimally – and what is going wrong?
MPower is no longer located locally on the machine, but is now a cloud-based platform. Using this smart, standardized platform, we can process the data we receive from the machines and provide you with information – for example about your machine and its availability – using various applications. You get a perfect overview of your data or processes and can see what is running optimally and what is going wrong, how many hours your machine was on stream, how much time you needed for its setup, when the machine was switched on, and what malfunctions occurred.

Together with Muller Martini specialists, targeted remote maintenance access can be used to quickly find the most common faults such as line errors, sensor errors in thickness control, missing book blocks at a gripper position, positioning errors in the main drive, or the reasons for the most frequent stops by the user, an open control panel protection, or a delivery unit that is not ready. Because we take a holistic view of service worldwide and have in-depth know-how from the countless inspections we have carried out, we can use this knowledge to provide our customers with even more targeted assistance, for example in their spare parts management. 

Customers decide for themselves whether something is smart or not
Our MPower customer portal will offer you even better support in your day-to-day maintenance by using the data available to us. In other words, you will experience less production downtime in future just because you had to wait for an ordered spare part or could not carry out maintenance in time. 

So the motto is “smart factory meets smart services.” We believe that machines are becoming smarter, which is something you should take note of in relation to services -– even if it is ultimately up to you, the customer, to decide whether something is smart or not.

As part of our MPower customer portal, Muller Martini is also expanding its MMRemote service tool – with the aim of being able to react even faster and increase the performance of your production systems. Via MMRemote, we link our systems and specialists even closer to those of our customers and use this transparency to further increase the benefits of our services. This enables our customers and Muller Martini to grow closer together. 

New Life Cycle Management program: A structured service offering
In addition to MPower and MMRemote, Muller Martini will be presenting the new Life Cycle Management program at drupa as the third service innovation. This clearly structures the service offering for an aging machine base – and Muller Martini systems are known to be very durable – into four categories.
  • Active: Machines with active status are in serial production and actively marketed.
  • Secured: The serial production of these machines has been stopped. However, specific expansions as well as updates, upgrades and retrofits are still available as functional extensions or replacements for obsolete components, and the entire portfolio of MMServices is offered.
  • Limited: Only selected updates, upgrades and retrofits are available for these machines. MMServices can only be offered at a reduced level.
  • Obsolete: The range of MMServices ends in this status. Even the availability of spare parts can no longer be guaranteed. In order to be able to produce reliably, an investment in a new machine is essential.

Have your machine assessed!
The status classification, which applies to spare parts, services, expansions, upgrades and retrofits, is generally based on the machine type, but in some cases also on its age. The ultimate goal is to provide optimum service for every phase of the machine. For you as our customers, the greatest benefit is that you know exactly how your machines are doing. We at Muller Martini, on the other hand, know immediately what to say to you if you have a problem.

Many machines change over time, they are adapted or reconfigured. As a result, it is often difficult or impossible for Muller Martini to assign a complete line to one of the four life cycle categories. We therefore recommend that you have one of our specialists conduct an assessment of your machine. Based on the life cycle report, we can then tell you exactly which MM services are available to you and which service products make sense for your business. This will ensure the long-term and efficient operation of your equipment and a high level of protection for your investment. 

The risk of failure increases the older a machine is 
The expansion of our service offering is entirely in line with the Finishing 4.0 philosophy rolled out by Muller Martini at the last drupa. Our main focus is always on the benefits to the customer. Since high performance is paramount and new business models are constantly being created, I am convinced that the topic of service will become increasingly important in the coming years. Buzzwords such as cloud, predictive maintenance and big data are also making inroads into the services sector. Of course, this requires transparency on both sides – at Muller Martini we are certainly prepared. 

The central question is always: How can we offer even better support (i.e. preventively) to our customers – whose main concerns are high cost pressure, high availability of their production systems and fast delivery of spare parts – before their plant comes to a standstill and they lose a lot of money. This topic is accentuated because many older machines are in use across the world, and the risk of failure naturally increases the older a machine is. In addition, the controls, in particular, are subject to their own life cycle and will at some point no longer be available from our suppliers (see our blog of September 3, 2019)

First skeptical, then enthusiastic
Nevertheless, if I may be so frank with you, it often takes some persuasion. A long-standing Kolbus customer with an older KM perfect binder, for example, wanted nothing to do with Muller Martini. He was quite negative about our MMServices – not least because we are significantly more expensive than Kolbus was before Muller Martini took over the perfect binder and bookline business. After a few months, we were able to convince the customer with a discount offer to sign a Remote Line Plus contract for one year as a trial (24/7 remote maintenance access). Once he realized that we deliver what we promised him, he is now so satisfied with Muller Martini that we are currently even talking about a maintenance contract with a budget three times the size. Under the maintenance contract, Muller Martini technicians visit the customer once a year and overhaul the machine with a total of six man-days. 

Or another example: A long-standing Muller Martini customer recently started having his five older saddle stitcher models serviced regularly by our specialists. The result: Within a very short period of time, he has significantly increased the availability of his machinery. 

Even though the service focus is mainly on older machines, I can still see an interesting trend in the graphics industry. If nowadays more and more companies see services as an opportunity and not only as a cost factor to proactively minimize the risk of failure, this is not least a consequence of new business models and new (digital) production processes. This is because digital users are much more open to services, are often led by a new generation of managers, and are therefore the real drivers in terms of service, especially in maintenance/service contracts. 

Reto Hofer
Program Manager MMServices – Global Service Business

Read also the blog from 9th June on the topic of MMServices. In this issue, Muller Martini service expert Patrick Treyer explains why it is better to rely on original parts and original manpower from Muller Martini when upgrading or converting a Bravo saddle stitcher, an Acoro perfect binder, a Diamant bookline, a Ventura book sewing machine or a Concept printing press.