As a leading supplier of hoses and connection solutions, we see great potential in digitalization. Digitization is one of four pillars of our corporate strategy. We rely on digitization in all areas of the company.
As a leading supplier of hoses and connection solutions for technical applications in many high-tech industries, we not only see important market potential in this area, but are ourselves constantly excited about the opportunities that digitization brings. We addressed the issue at a very early stage and are shaping our transformation process dynamically and fundamentally.
In concrete terms, this means that digitization is now one of four pillars of our corporate strategy. As a result, every division of the Masterflex Group is currently involved in digital changes.
We invested early on in industrial 4.0-capable production facilities. We have been able to significantly increase the transparency of our production processes with a noticeable expansion of data acquisition and a new network. Thanks to the permanent and seamless monitoring of production, we are able to improve the overall quality of the manufacturing process as well as automation and flexibility.
For example, several years ago, we started to develop the world's first fully networked production plant for profile-extruded high-tech polyurethane hoses (spiral hoses) together with a suitably qualified mechanical engineering partner. We commissioned the first line in early 2017, followed by a second line in 2018.
A fully digitalized production system like the one we have does not exist again in this form. In addition to considerable direct efficiency gains (higher production speeds, etc.), we have always been concerned with opening up new "horizons" in quality, process reliability and further product development. A prerequisite for this is the complete digitalization of all sensors and actuators (drive elements) and their networking. This has been implemented for the first time in such a complex extrusion plant. In the meantime, we know that this enables us to take completely new technological and business approaches today, and even more so in the future.
As an innovation leader, we have been driving digitization in the hose market decisively forward for years with appropriately equipped products and, earlier than other competitors, we have consistently taken the path towards digitization. Our innovative ability has received several external awards (TOP 100 innovation and world market leaders).
This is most visible in our new digitalized smart hoses with intelligent functions. We are the first hose manufacturer ever to launch a complete operator system consisting of hose, sensor technology, engineering and data processing: Under the name AMPIUS® we offer hose systems with integrated lifecycle tracking functions and a matching app.
We have already been able to demonstrate the concrete benefits of real-time operating data in customer projects, for example in monitoring the wear of hoses under abrasive operating conditions. We see a lot of additional market potential here, especially in the development of new and data-based business models together with our customers.
In 2017, we began implementing a new, cloud-based ERP system. This new system, that is now indispensable for supporting our business processes, has also opened up new opportunities for us to drive processes.
One example of this is our entry into workflow automation. We have now implemented standardized workflows where previously complex workflows were carried out without IT support. This enables us to achieve greater consistency and accuracy in our workflows. By automating everyday processes, we save time and money.
In conjunction with our newly introduced ERP system, we rely on Power BI to further improve our customer orientation. This business analysis service from Microsoft helps us to evaluate and visualize the data stored in ERP systems and other systems on customers and sales opportunities.
Power BI gives us the ability to quickly and easily create insights and reports and make them available as dashboards. We use these daily updated market and target group insights to better understand the requirements and needs of our customers and to offer them appropriate solutions. Based on data and its evaluation and visualization, we are thus able to further improve our service processes.
Not only the work itself is changing, but also the way we work. We have created suitable rooms, appropriate technology and modern working methods for this new work culture. This also leads to employees being able to work more flexibly and partly in the home office.
In addition, our employees travel less because they can use modern conference technology or, for example, chat directly with each other via the employee App. Since 2017, new agile development methods such as Design Thinking or agile project management have been introduced and successfully applied.
We are a production company and asked ourselves: How do we reach those employees who work at the workbench, i.e. without a digital workplace, or at another location? Until now, this has been possible at Masterflex Group almost exclusively via notices on the notice board, the printed employee magazine or e-mails.
Now there is an app that reaches all employees directly. MFGconnect - alluding to the company slogan "Connecting Values" - is intended to facilitate processes, promote dialogues and strengthen the "we-feeling". The idea for the app came from the workforce, the concept was developed by an internal project team with colleagues from various departments (including colleagues from production). It was programmed by an external start-up for mobile employee communication.
Employees can now decide for themselves when and where they read company news. The app also contains information on guidelines, current projects and locations of the Masterflex Group. Customers can also use the app: They automatically receive the latest company news. The app is still only available in a German version. But in the future it is planned that all Masterflex Group employees worldwide will be able to chat with each other via the app in their respective national language.
Our online presence includes the website (as the hub) and Google (for search engine marketing) as well as social media activities on portals such as Facebook,LinkedIn, Twitter, Xing and YouTube. We regularly feed the individual channels with relevant, proprietary content. This includes, for example, news about new products, trade fairs, awards, campaigns ("Baking with the Masterflex Group") or competitions.