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Mönchengladbach, September 12, 2019

Comprehensive services to reduce downtimes, increase productivity and maintain plant value

Interview with Jochen Burg and Johannes Kahlen (Division Heads of SMS group Technical Service)

Reducing downtimes, increasing productivity and maintaining the value of the plants: Jochen Burg and Johannes Kahlen are convinced that the Technical Service of SMS group ensures long-term success.

Mr. Burg, how important are service products nowadays for plant operators?

Jochen Burg: Very important because each production stoppage or plant downtime costs the plant operator a lot of money. Availability, quality and predictability are therefore basic requirements for stable and profitable production. The services offered by us enable plant operators to sustainably extend their own production capabilities.

Which service products are offered by SMS group and which developments are identifiable?

Jochen Burg: Basically, the service business is continually developing. The classical service products in the fields of spare parts & logistics, upgrades and modernizations, inspections & repairs or training & consulting will be revolutionized by the influence of digitalization. For that reason, we closely cooperate with the newly established Digitalization Division because we also want to use the insights and opportunities of the learning steel plant in our services for our customers.

Mr. Kahlen, last year many service projects have again been successfully implemented by SMS group. Which of them do you remember in particular?

Johannes Kahlen: There are many projects I now remember. But of course, I immediately remember the large outsourcing projects, such as those of our Russian customers MMK and NLMK or Big River Steel in the U.S. where our service experts master the maintenance tasks in steel plants, rolling mills and strip processing lines day after day and hand in hand with our customers. But I should also like to emphasize our local repair and modernization assignments at our customers or in our company. And we are able to react flexibly in our own workshop, in particular when unplanned machine downtimes occur. With this possibility, we were able to offer successful services to our customers thyssenkrupp, SSAB and Deutsche Giessdraht GmbH in the past year. And we must not forget the on-schedule and successful handling of many thousands of spare parts orders. This service feature will continue to be our core business in future.

These services can only be accomplished with qualified service experts. How is the Technical Service of SMS group positioned?

Jochen Burg: Worldwide, we employ more than 3,000 people, about 500 of them in Germany and we operate at 52 locations, i.e. often directly at customer’s plant. This shows that our Technical Service has a global presence and is positioned close to its customers. Our employees are characterized by a combination of technical knowledge, maintenance routines and operator’s know-how.

With its worldwide workshops SMS group is close to the customer. Which service products are else offered to customers to ensure that quick support is provided despite great distances?

Johannes Kahlen: In our workshops in Brazil, China, Europe, India, Russia or in the U.S. we are able to overhaul all core products of SMS group. Particularly, our maintenance services are increasingly utilized by the customer. We operate spare parts warehouses through to taking over complete servicing. Almost classical are our remote electrical and automation support services. A new product is remote support including Augmented Reality (AR), with the aid of which our service experts are given an idea of the problem and are able to help in a remote way

Are there products which sell particularly well or are in high demand? And if so, why?

Johannes Kahlen: At present, everybody talks about digitalization and new business models. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but the classical spare part in proven SMS group quality still continues to play a major role in our service business. This pillar will also be further expanded by us in future.

Jochen Burg: For our customers the focus on core processes and the associated outsourcing of maintenance services plays an ever-increasing role. Unfortunately, more and more customer’s expert knowledge goes into retirement. In contrast, there is an increasingly complex plant technology to meet the requirements of the global markets. Our customized outsourcing projects and our many years of experience in this field provide planning security along with cost efficiency.

As Leading Partner in the World of Metals SMS group offers its customers technical services not only after commissioning of the plants but far ahead. How can we imagine this?

Johannes Kahlen: Already during the construction of the plant we are involved in the planning process and in the equipment, e.g. of initial spares or warehouse solutions. In addition, the plant personnel can be trained at an early stage by means of our training concepts. To accomplish this, SMS TECademy provides a wide array of training sessions which can also be used as refreshment courses. So, for example, we have opened our digital classroom at the beginning of 2019 where maintenance operations can be trained on the plant in a virtual environment. And this, before the real plant has been set up which is an enormous advantage for a quick and successful start of plant operation. Of course we also offer our customers the option to take over maintenance work directly with commissioning. With the outsourcing of maintenance services – our TOS (Technical Outsourcing) – we take the burden off the shoulders of the plant operator so that he must only focus on his priorities, i.e. the production process.

Johannes Kahlen, Division Head, Technical Service, SMS group

“Our service products offer the plant operator security he needs in order to focus fully on production.”

As soon as the customer’s plant has started production SMS group as Leading Partner is available with services. Isn’t it a comforting feeling for the customer?

Jochen Burg: I would hope so. That is at least what the customers told me. The Technical Service can be contacted around the clock which is indeed a reassuring feel. Our services are offered for both new installations and upgrades and also for plants which have not been set up by SMS group.

Jochen Burg, Division Head, Technical Service, SMS group

"The Technical Service is available around the clock – even for plants which have not been built by SMS group.”

In what way does SMS group’s Technical Service stand out from its competitors?

Johannes Kahlen: SMS group is the only plant manufacturer in the metallurgical sector covering the entire process chain. Consequently, we are the only service provider worldwide able to meet the complete maintenance demand of our customers. In addition to that, our reference status speaks for itself. With more than 30 outsourcing projects worldwide and the associated off- and online maintenance of whole plant parts we prove day after day that we fulfill the confidence of our customers time and again.

How has our Technical Service positioned itself in the age of Industrie 4.0?

Jochen Burg: For our Technical Service and its products digitalization plays an important role. Already many years ago, we have created the first digital products. These may include, for example, our smart maintenance solution products electronic documentation (eDoc), integrated maintenance management systems (IMMS), condition monitoring systems (Genius CM®) or predictive maintenance approaches. We want to continually further link these and other products providing already today the gateway into the digital age. Furthermore, augmented and virtual reality applications are employed. The opening of the digital classroom is a current example. Finally, I would like to mention our digital fact-finding offering each customer an inventory of “digital readiness” and showing him possible paths of action.

Where do you see further business growth for the Technical Service?

Jochen Burg: We are looking into an exciting future. On the one hand, digitalization opens up new business models and paths and on the other hand there are still many white dots worldwide in our product portfolio. Above all, I do see the further expansion and complement of our services in all core regions to make sure that we continue to be close to our customers.

Johannes Kahlen: But also the quick and costefficient supply of spare parts is further optimized. For that reason, we are working intensely on additive manufacturing technologies. The first spare parts are already printed.