“At the pulse of time” – Interview about successful digitization and sales strategies for component manufacturers
It is more important than ever for component manufacturers to be well positioned in terms of digitalization. The current situation in particular shows that companies that rely on digital sales strategies are already better positioned and will find it even easier to secure their competitiveness in the future. KRAUS Austria, whose conveyor rollers are used by well-known global players in the field of conveying technology and logistics, has also realized this. KRAUS Austria has recognized the necessity for the digitalization of processes and is investing in the successful implementation of its digitalization strategy in times of this worldwide exceptional situation in order to position itself even better on the European market in the future.
The core of the strategy is in particular the implementation of a digital product catalog with intelligent engineering data, so-called digital twins. These are intended to offer the manufacturer’s customers for conveyor roller an outstanding online service and to support engineers in their daily work, thus ensuring a shorter time-to-market. Customers and interested parties can now put together three series of conveyor rollers with a high number of variants themselves and then download them free of charge as 3D CAD models and 2D drawings in the desired CAD format and use them in the CAD system. Further products will follow shortly. KRAUS Austria is sure that the return on investment (ROI) will be reached quickly: The improved digital customer service will have a positive effect on the worldwide findability of KRAUS Austria products, customer loyalty and sales figures.
The authorized signatory Alexander Wagnerexplains in an interview the motives of KRAUS Austria regarding digitalization as well as the successful support of its customers and component buyers, which include well-known logistics companies such as Deutsche Post, Siemens, Amazon, Zalando and various international airports.
The topic of digitization is currently on everyone’s lips. What changes will it bring with it and what strategies can component manufacturers derive from it?
“With increasing digitalization, it will be very important in the future to network the most diverse supply chains, whether suppliers or customers, more closely with each other. For component manufacturers, this means that they must provide their customers with more digital product information with maximum convenience. This will enable designers to develop their products easily and quickly using digital twins. Especially in the field of materials handling technology, component suppliers will only be able to establish themselves in the market in the future if they provide 3D CAD models and 2D drawings of their products in an uncomplicated way. Because such complex conveyor systems always have to be specially designed for the respective application. At the end of the day, there will always be designers involved who strategically plan the conveyor system and benefit enormously from existing engineering data and the simple configuration of components.”
To what extent is digitization something that plays a strategically important role for medium-sized companies at this time?
“Especially in the current time of this exceptional situation and social restrictions, the investment in digitization and solutions such as the product configurator of CADENAS pays off. We at KRAUS Austria would like to set an example that we as a medium-sized company do not oversleep the topic of digitalization. On the contrary, we want to use the resulting chances and always be one step ahead and actively shape the future with our ideas. Thanks to modern technology, highly motivated employees and well-filled stocks, we are fully capable of delivering even in the current crisis and look forward to working on orders together with our customers.”
How can component manufacturers efficiently address the issue of digitization and intelligent product data?
“For more than two years now, the company KRAUS Austria, a specialist for support and motorized rollers, conveyor components, lifting tables and factory equipment, has been strategically focusing on the topic of digitization. In 2019, we reinvested almost 40% of the company’s annual turnover in buildings, machines, employees and above all in digitization. Before I joined KRAUS Austria, I myself worked in the IT industry and had insights into the added value that digitization can bring. One thing is certain, however, that it is of central importance to make more high-quality content or extensive product information available to customers and interested parties as easily as possible. In the course of this, we have already implemented several online shops on our website. The “creme de la crème” is now the new configurator for conveyor rollers.”
What role does the KRAUS Austria product configurator play in providing intelligent product data?
“For a long time now, we at KRAUS Austria have had the idea to provide our customers with the conveyor rollers of our series production as multi CAD capable 3D models and 2D drawings in a simple and fast way via a platform integrated into our company website. Under the motto “Build your own conveyor roller” we would like to offer customers and interested parties the possibility to assemble or configure our conveyor rollers virtually by themselves and to download the engineering data in their respective CAD formats as well as 2D drawings.”
“It was also important for the implementation to find the right solution partner. KRAUS Austria has a very large product variation and produces one million conveyor rollers in 1,500 different designs per year. The tube diameter, the axle, the rolling floor or the type of drive, for example, vary. We understand that nowadays it is more important than ever that our customers can assemble the products themselves according to their needs, integrate the product data quickly and easily into the design and thus significantly improve their time-to-market. With a product configurator for our standard conveyor rollers, which we have implemented with CADENAS, the specialist for the digitization of technical product information, we are now in direct contact with engineers and designers in addition to the buyers. From our point of view, they are ultimately making the choice for the components. Our product configurator must therefore optimally cover their needs. After all, when the bill of material is created on the basis of the CAD drawing, the order is virtually triggered by the purchasing department.”
How do digital tools effectively support your company in expanding its international sales strategy?
“In order to remain competitive and position itself on the international market, the provision of digital product data and information in numerous languages will be crucial. At KRAUS Austria, for example, the conveyor roller is the number one export hit and we export it to many European countries. With a digital tool, such as the interactive product configurator, we can reach customers and interested parties throughout Europe in English, German and soon seven other languages, without having to be present with sales representatives directly in the local market of the respective countries. In the future, French designers for example will be able to find out about KRAUS Austria products online, get detailed information about their specific features in their own language and, based on this information, assemble the required idler for their application and then download it free of charge as a CAD model. As it is still much easier for many designers to configure a component in their own language. Our new multilingual service will make it even easier for us to generate qualified sales leads throughout Europe.”
“Despite the improved digital customer service, the personal advice provided by our employees will of course continue to play a major role in our digitization process. We would like to be available as consulting experts. In direct contact, for example, we can find out all the necessary information about the purpose and location of our conveyor rollers planned by the customer. This is because the type of transport rollers vary depending on which loads (e.g. Euro pallets, mesh boxes or packages) are to be transported in which logistics facility. This is how we ensure that our customers have configured the right product to deliver. In this way, we connect the two worlds by providing our digital content in a digitally advanced way thanks to the CADENAS solution and making our products internationally findable. At the same time, we support our customers with our proven expertise as a down-to-earth, family-run company.”
“To further intensify the contact with direct customers, we have set up our own video conference room with a large screen and HD resolution camera. This allows us to present the new product configurator to customers and interested parties in video conferences and at the same time ensure face-to-face consultation with the customer.”
In times of digitalization, KRAUS Austria relies on its new conveyor rollers configurator and on comprehensive personal consultation, for example by means of video conferencing.
What opportunities arise from the increased use of digital services at KRAUS Austria and how do customers and KRAUS Austria employees benefit?
“The use of digital tools, such as our online shops and the product configurator for conveyor roller, significantly reduces the workload for customers and KRAUS Austria employees and minimizes previous research and waiting times for CAD models.”
“In the past, this was much more complex from a sales point of view. With the new service for conveyor rollers, we no longer have to acquire customers individually by mail or telephone. At the same time, we no longer have to manually design components for individual inquiries. This helps our customers to bring their products to market much faster. Whatever their requirements, customers can now easily and quickly assemble idlers, download them in over 150 CAD formats and save valuable time in product design.”
“A very important advantage of the comprehensive digital service in the area of our standard products, such as the conveyor rollers, is that KRAUS Austria and its customers have more time and capacity for creative product development. In the future, our design engineers and sales staff will be able to concentrate more intensively on the area of special solutions and bring them faster to the market. Currently we produce about 500 different conveyor rollers per month in different lot sizes starting from lot size 1. These conveyor rollers do not correspond to the standard and are therefore directly tailored to the customers’ needs. These include, for example, polygonal conveyor rollers or conveyor rollers with brushes, etc. This will enable us to further improve our customer service in the product area of special solutions.”
The new product configurator for conveyor rollers of KRAUS Austria is based on the eCATALOGsolutions technology of CADENAS and is now available at: https://KRAUS.partcommunity.com