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Mader GmbH & Co. KG

Predictive Maintenance, Success Stories

29.04.2024

Intelligent compressed air supply

What drove the decision to develop an AI-based use case?

The decisive factor for the development was the attempt to improve the internal process. Traditionally, ultrasound was used to detect leaks in customers' compressed air systems. The results were then logged, recorded in an Excel spreadsheet and accompanied by images. As the process was error-prone and cumbersome, the aim was to improve it. To this end, a leak detection app was developed, which was originally intended for the company's own employees. It was only when customers became interested in the app that the possibilities were recognised. Today, Mader sells the app as a stand-alone product. The company is also taking its first steps towards a pay-per-use model. Instead of selling compressed air systems, it sells the compressed air itself.

 

What technologies, skills and structures were necessary for the development and implementation of the digital/AI solution?

During development, Mader was reliant on IT expertise, for example to process and interpret the data obtained. This service was bought in from outside, as the company was unable to build up its own expertise due to a lack of specialised personnel.

 

In what timeframe did you implement the AI solution in your company/your client‘s company?

The project was launched in 2014. Since February 2018, Mader no longer only sells compressors, but also compressed air via a pay per-use model. The development is already being successfully implemented on the market - but still offers a wide range of further development opportunities.

 

What is the added value that the digital/AI solution brings?

A compressor does not provide information about maintenance times and cycles. Previously, a service technician had to be on site to check it or call customers to enquire about machine hours. The technicians were not always on site in time and important service revenue was lost. With the new technology, data can be collected in real time. The reliability of supply to the customer has increased and service turnover has risen by 20 percentage points as a result. Currently, alarm messages and optimised leak detection can still be offered using the data obtained. This data is being used to take the first steps towards predictive maintenance. The central tool is the app, which customers can purchase in the form of a monthly subscription. A total of three different packages are offered for app, which differ in terms of price and scope. This allows Mader to respond explicitly to the customer's wishes and offer these different services for the app.

 

What challenges were overcome?

Basically, a huge amount of data is collected over the entire production period, from the energy input at the compressor to the engine vibration and the temperature of the oil. The biggest problem was the transmission of the collected data. A cloud plugin turned out to be the optimal solution. The next question, however, was where to store the data. Another challenge was time management. At a medium-sized company with an eight-hour working day and flexitime regulations, employees do not simply work through a weekend. This is why the idea of a participation model for the employees involved was developed.

 

What is the impact of the new digital/AI solution on the customer segment, markets, partners, and company structure?

A new company, LOOXR GmbH, was founded in order to be able to operate independently on the market. This company will be used to acquire more customers in the future. Customers are already assigning Mader a different competence. There is less discussion about prices and delivery times and more about technologies. The new products are arousing customers' curiosity. The customer structure is changing massively as a result. Mader is using the app to reach customers who already have a compressed air system and are satisfied with their supplier. Leak detection is the first step. The clear visualisation of the leak alone makes those responsible think. The follow up order often has nothing to do with localisation. Customers are becoming larger and more international, which automatically makes them more lucrative for Mader.

 

Conclusion:

New ideas must be developed as long as the business is running. If such a step is only taken in a crisis situation desperation will determine the process and the wrong decisions are likely to be made. From today's perspective, the company Mader would invest more in the "Compressed Air 4.0" project and immediately put together a team of five to ten employees.

 

The content of this use case originally appeared on the website Auf Zum Digital as part of the Digitale Geschäftsmodelle@BW project funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labor and Tourism and coordinated by CyberForum e.V. The full content can be accessed here.

 

https://www.mader.eu/

 

Picture: Mader GmbH & Co. KG