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Photo: Åsa Svedjeholm
Hans Larsson, Gestamp HardTech belives in new ways to do business. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Monitored tools - foundation for new business model

Published: 9 December 2015

Sensors monitoring Gestamp HardTech press tools make it easier for the company to sell support and services internally. A new model for business to business relationships, providing both seller and buyer benefits, is being developed iwith researchers at the Faste Laboratory in Lulea.

Gestamp HardTech manufactures press-hardened vehicle components in high-strength steels for the global automotive industry. Within the company, innovative unique tools required for press-hardening, are being developed and produced on behalf of the automotive industry.

The sensors mounted on the press-hardening tools that press hardens auto parts for Volvo XC90, will deliver data about pressure, temperature and movements of the tool during the press hardening process.

Gestamp HardTech has a unique development center in Luleå, which carries out research and development, tooling development, process development and production. The press hardening technology was invented in Luleå and became a global success within the automotive industry for pressed parts and systems while press hardening increases crash safety and reduce the car's weight and fuel consumption.

– By collecting data on the press tool we have better control and can put the right price on the cost of support and service, says Hans Larsson, Director of Design and Development, Gestamp HardTech. This in turn enables us to create added value and great deals to customers who purchase the service. Sensor data is necessary to make profitable trades. The tools must work as promised and deliver the availability that we have agreed with the customer. Monitoring the tools also give us access to data that can be reused in several of our tools.

Automakers today are put under intense time pressure. To subcontractors, like Gestamp HardTech which manufactures auto parts for a large share of the global auto industry, it is of utmost importance that the press tools do not suffer from downtime that delays delivery.

One way to meet the carmakers' needs and to strengthen Gestamp HardTech's competitiveness, is to sell function, ie the customer pays for the availability of the press tool and that it work optimally, without downtime during the time the contract runs.

– Selling function is a new concept that is difficult to copy and that no one else in our industry is doing, says Hans Larsson. Gestamp HardTech are new to this but we are learning all the time from our partner companies participating in the Faste Laboratory, including Volvo, which has has advanced further.

The biggest problem that Hans Larsson see with a transition from traditional sales to selling function and availability - and where the company stands for costs incurred when there is a problem with the service they are providing - is that the concept is new. That makes it difficult to see the benefits both for the supplier of the service and for the customer.

– In traditional business models, the focus is on the profits in the company that provide the product. When selling function, it is about creating a win-win situation for everyone involved, and to focus on customer benefits. This means a paradigm shift that can be difficult to grasp.

At the end of the year it's time for a first analysis of data from the sensors on the press tool. The analysis will be an important part of designing a business model for selling services and support services. The plan is to be able to offer customer support and service services during 2016.

Currently, researchers at the Faste Laboratory conducting interviews with global end-customers to grasp the interest in buying function and availability instead of doing business in the traditional way.

–  We believe that the transition from traditional sales to sales of function and availability are the future business model, says Hans Larsson. We start here in Luleå. If we are able to show up win-win solutions, I believe that the concept also will be accepted globally in Gestamp. But it will take time.