Dr. Christian Grefrath has more than 15 years professional experience in diverse branches. Before working for SIG he had different positions in Product and Service Management. In his career he was among other things leading strategic planning & implementing of digital and industrial service strategies. Besides he consulted industrial companies on their way towards a full-service provider and how to apply new business models. Currently Dr. Grefrath is the global responsible Product Manager for Digital Solutions at SIG and has launched several innovations for SIG’s customers.
Dr. Christian Grefrath studied Mechanical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University with product development and innovation management as major subjects. Furthermore, he holds a doctoral degree from RWTH Aachen University in service management.
Sophisticated service concepts can make a decisive difference
At your service: flexible service innovations to maximize productivity
Effective and timely service plays a vital role in manufacturing. Machinery without service support is a risk no manufacturer should willingly take. When it comes to an entire production plant, the stakes become even higher. This is especially true for food and beverage production where even minor breakdowns can result in plenty of food waste, not to mention time-consuming interruptions within the supply chain. Dr Christian Grefrath, Senior Product Manager Digital Solutions, and Stefan Mergel, Head of Global Product Management Sustainability & Digital Solutions at SIG discuss why a sophisticated service concept is so important and which innovations can make a decisive difference.
Dr Christian Grefrath: “We know that service is influential to a business. When it comes to service solutions and choosing a packaging partner, both quality and speed of response are highly important. Here, the packaging partner needs to be a hands-on stakeholder and not just a supplier: from suggesting the right solutions for a manufacturer’s specific needs all the way to installation, training, and beyond.”
Being on the ground in a customer’s factory is a great way of understanding how things are going. But there are some things only remote solutions can help with, such as the convenience of tracking every machine at the touch of a button from wherever in the world – and at any time.
Service from afar
SIG’s solutions utilize digitalization to help improve efficiency and productivity. Both of which are especially important when it comes to supporting clients from a distance.
However, large-scale adoption of remote services does face some barriers, with manufacturers worried about integration costs and cybersecurity risks, among other concerns. And so, to help clients embrace a more digital world takes a partner who can give them the confidence to move forward.
Dr Christian Grefrath: “SIG launched SIG Remote Services to help food and beverage manufacturers service their filling machines more efficiently and improve uptime. With SIG Remote Services, our clients can connect with an SIG expert from anywhere in the world, whenever they need to – using e.g. their own smart devices or by using our provided video-enabled smart glasses that come as part of the package.”
Not only does this result in issues being solved faster – for instance in the Southern American region SIG can solve nearly 90% of troubleshooting cases remotely. It also helps manufacturers adopt more sustainable practices: SIG clients who use SIG Remote Services save tons in CO₂ emissions by dealing with problems over video chat instead of bringing an expert in.
Another big thing is monitoring. Monitoring plays a massive role in enabling manufactures to meet consumer demands for more product and quality information while streamlining their operations. Allowing them to track and trace their products so they can pinpoint issues quickly and easily and, as a result, save on costs and downtime. Monitoring, when done right, can also enable manufacturers to provide consumers all the information they want about a product. Essentially, it means manufacturers can kill two birds with one stone – tightening up their supply chain while meeting consumer demands for greater traceability.
Stefan Mergel: “At SIG we understand the importance of great monitoring. SIG PAC.TRUST is one of several connected pack solutions designed to help our customers in this area. By making use of QR codes and state-of-the-art backend technologies, SIG PAC.TRUST allows manufacturers to monitor every individual product from farm to fork – information they can use to pinpoint issues quickly, in addition to offering consumers more transparency.”
Digital monitoring is also making it far easier for manufacturers to control operations remotely – something which has become especially important in light of COVID-19. Without people manually checking equipment, manufacturers had to find other ways to track the condition of applications. Digital adoption was the only way forward, with the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and smart tools enabling condition-based monitoring (CBM) from afar.
Among the many benefits of remote CBM and CBM in general are a reduction in maintenance checks – i.e., lower overheads – and an ability to react to any issues in near-real time, the latter of which is guaranteed to help your equipment perform better, for longer.
Today, most innovations in monitoring are digital, enabling manufacturers to save even more time and manual effort by offering them a more streamlined approach to managing their supply chain. Solutions like SIG’s all-encompassing SIG Asset Health Monitoring, which aims to help manufacturers reduce unplanned downtime of their equipment.
The flexible fix
A key question is: How can flexibility be applied to every part of the supply chain? Flexibility, simply put, means being able to adapt to everything. For example, having the capacity to produce a greater variety of products or being able to keep production running when the world around you experiences a giant shift – as with COVID-19. It’s also a matter of being able to do all this without any great impact to businesses, say in terms of having to buy new equipment or moving to a bigger site. So long as customers have the right machinery and tools, like agile filling systems and service solutions.
Flexibility in service means manufacturers can always respond to changes and crises, even using them to create value. But to get there means finding the right partner. A partner who aligns with requirements and places enough focus on flexibility.
Stefan Mergel: “With our agile and flexible filling systems, customers can enjoy optimal flexibility without any impact on speed or efficiency. But we’ve taken things one step further, making sure our service solutions are also built around flexibility. Whether customers need more flexibility when it comes to maintenance or getting hold of spare parts, or if they want more freedom when it comes to technical support or finding ways to optimize performance, SIG offers personalized service agreements in addition to extensive inventory of spare parts that can be accessed 24/7.”
Training as a service
Training can also be seen as a service solution, helping customers fully understand and utilize their equipment. SIG believes that training customers how to master their equipment can create long-term value.
Dr Christian Grefrath: “At SIG, we believe in great service solutions and in supporting manufacturers before, during and long after they choose to work with us. From offering basics such as maintenance and technical support, to our value-added service solutions designed to improve machine availability, optimize performance and help manufacturers embrace digitalization. In summation, our portfolio of comprehensive services covers every aspect of food and beverage production. To ensure we reach as many of our customers as possible, we have five training centers located in Brazil, China, Germany, Thailand and the UAE, with a total of 23 international trainers and 7 local trainers spread across them. Customers can visit centers to take part in practical and theoretical training courses, and we also offer some training on-site provided there is a filling machine to work with.”
See our SIG Remote Services in action:
Learn more about SIG Asset Health Monitoring:
Watch our video on SIG Asset Management:
CLICK HERE FOR LATEST NEWS.
READ CURRENT AND PAST ISSUES OF IAA.
KEEP YOURSELF UPDATED, SUBSCRIBE TO IAA NOW!