From the digital product to new business models based on the example of smart maintenance

Short Description:

Manufacturers, primarily of industrial products, are looking for new business models to expand their value creation, exploit additional sales channels and sources of revenue as well as to be well positioned for the future with respect to the competition.

Digitization of products offers one approach. It forms the requirement for new services based on it.

Digital products (smart products) are characterized by the fact that they are equipped with sensors and embedded systems, they collect operational and other relevant data, communicate and can interact with each other. And they do so while adhering to the highest level of data security and data privacy precautions. The data communicated can be processed in the cloud and used for various services. Such a service would be, for example, smart maintenance.

Smart Maintenance

Smart maintenance is an “end-to-end” maintenance approach ranging from data collection, data analysis, generation of models and recommended actions, workforce management all the way to support for maintenance in itself as well as the documentation of the maintenance measures carried out. The solution provides cost efficiency and provides information to resolve maintenance issues and therefore ensuring shorter outage times.
The trail illustrates to the participants, using the example of smart maintenance, how new services and business models can be exploited using digital products. All kinds of solution scenarios will be demonstrated in this regard.


Ulrich Künzel, T-Systems Multimedia Solutions GmbH
Heike Vocke, iSAX GmbH & Co. KG
Martina Vogel, Fraunhofer-Institut für Elektronische Nanosysteme (ENAS)

Target Group(s):

Decision makers, for instance in management, product development, production control, sales, service and quality management from the following fields:

    • Production industry, logistics, power supply, healthcare, among others
    • Control, maintenance, repair and servicing

Partner from Research, Industry:

    • Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems (ENAS): sensor systems
    • T-Systems Multimedia Solutions GmbH: smart maintenance modules, AR/VR interface
    • iSAX GmbH & Co. KG

Value Proposition:

Pain Killers:

Manufacturers are exposed to tougher and tougher competition. That’s why they’re constantly searching for new ways to expand their value chain through the availability of new services and to increase and improve their service activities through services like smart maintenance, for instance.

Smart Maintenance

A maintenance order is most often still placed in the classic way of making a phone call and conveying the message that something is not working. In a critical case, a suitable service technician of the plant manufacturer has to travel to the customer, who might be located anywhere in the world. A maintenance call in a hard-to-reach area can quickly become a time-consuming and costly undertaking. In case of doubt, customers have to come to terms with long, unplanned outage times if the machine operator or maintenance technician cannot solve the problem.
Companies, however, rely on their machines and systems to be available with the least amount of interruption possible. To achieve this goal the maintenance process must be structured in the most efficient way possible. Overly frequent and untargeted maintenance windows are just as much of a problem as excessive replacement parts inventories and expensive fallback solutions.

Gain Creators:

With the digitization of products, manufacturers are in a position not only to sell a product once but also to generate continued and additional business after the sale. Moreover, services based on digitalization, such as smart maintenance, can increase customer satisfaction and with it customer loyalty.

Smart Maintenance

Smart maintenance supports the entire “end-to-end” maintenance process.
Instead of fixed maintenance windows, maintenance can be performed in a targeted way according to actual need. With previously-known, looming defects, the necessary replacement parts can be purchased early and technicians scheduled ahead of time. The technical knowledge associated with the maintenance process is no longer only in the possession of individual experts. Decisions made become traceable.

Smart maintenance solutions ensure:

    • Maintenance work is only performed as often or rarely as needed
    • Maintenance complexity is minimized; faster resolution of maintenance issues and therefore shorter outage times
    • The quality of maintenance is increased
    • Inspection and maintenance costs are decreased
    • Additional information and advice in real time
    • Fast, intuitive maintenance reduces faults
    • Outage times are decreased and that the service life and quality of the products sold is increased
    • Improved service
    • Increased customer satisfaction


Teaser (1/2 day) and intensive (1–5 days), location by Agreement


From the sensor to the cloud and back (teaser)
Through a presentation and practical demonstration using the IoT platform “ThingWorx”, attendees will be introduced to the fundamental questions of IoT with regard to maintenance, repair and servicing.

Service design workshop (intensive)
The goal of the workshop is to develop specific service ideas and/or service prototypes together with the participants in the field of smart products/smart maintenance while incorporating various methodologies.
After intensive preparation, needs will be identified, problems defined and the prototyping of service ideas will be carried out in the workshop, using diagrams for example. In the follow-up to the workshop, recommendations for further action will be extrapolated in order to arrive at an excellent solution from the service prototype.

Solution design workshop (intensive)
The workshop is used to prepare for the technical implementation, for instance of a service prototype developed in the Service design workshop in the thematic context of smart products/smart maintenance.
We will hone in on product visions and requirements with the participants, and to do so will discuss, among other things, the following topics: goals and success criteria, system context and technical interfaces, functional and non-functional requirements as well as technical approaches for solutions.
After the workshop we will develop recommendations for steps to be able to begin as quickly as possible with implementing the solution.


Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems (ENAS)

Sensors and sensor Systems
Sensors and sensor systems for status monitoring of systems are becoming increasingly necessary in digital production. This includes sensors/sensor systems for monitoring equipment, processes, tools and system parts but also sensors/sensor systems for detecting critical operating conditions. The performance of the sensors as well as wireless integration may both be challenges here.

This way the status of lubricants, for instance, can be detected here via optical sensors.

iSAX GmbH & Co. KG

Component monitoring in maintenance (customer project demonstrator)
It will be demonstrated how, as part of maintenance, components are monitored and recorded with modern IoT technologies. In addition to the direct data of the components, environmental factors and other associated circumstances will be considered and put in reference to events that arise.
This system makes it possible for the customer to find out why certain components fail. This way, it is possible to later improve the component. The customer improves their service quality while decreasing outage costs and maintenance costs.

©iSAX GmbH & Co. KG
T-Systems Multimedia Solutions GmbH

Monitoring of dispensing equipment
By digitizing dispensing equipment it will be demonstrated how idle time due to depleted resources can be reduced. Service workers receive status information about, among other things, the fill level and the power supply of the dispensing equipment. These are equipped with sensors and are interconnected. The data are collected, processed and displayed via a cloud platform. This way service workers have direct access to status and fault information as well as to consumption statistics. Servicing intervals can thus be reduced and dynamically organized.

The solution reduces the idle time of dispensing equipment and in doing so increases service quality and customer satisfaction.

Repairing a system
Using a solution from T-Systems Multimedia Solutions it will be demonstrated how service technicians can repair a system using AR technologies.
Using a tablet or data eyewear, details on the system modules can be brought up directly on the object in real time by having a photo of the module compared to the database. Service technicians then receive additional information, such as sensor data, a holographic 3D model, videos, a fault analysis or even repair steps to be taken. For additional advice, other experts in the field can be consulted via tablet or data eyewear in a way similar to a video conference. Additionally, the service technicians can virtually mark areas that may indicate damage—such as hairline cracks for example—and require further examination.

Using an example scenario it will be demonstrated how fault messages from machines, systems or vehicles can ideally be automatically routed, based on rules, to mobile service technicians. Integrated workforce management also helps optimize action planning of service technicians.

If a measuring cylinder’s fluid level changes, a fault is prompted by a built-in sensor. It remotely triggers a repair order in the connected SAP system. From there a service order is automatically forwarded to the workforce management system of the partner company mobileX AG. The system, using configured rules, locates the available service technician with the right expertise nearby and sends them the order on a mobile terminal.

Current Projects:

T-Systems Multimedia Solutions GmbH and iSAX GmbH & Co. KG, along with various partner companies, are developing smart product and smart maintenance solutions for customers in Germany and abroad.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems is developing sensor systems for quality assurance and status monitoring in the production process in—among other places—the “Smart Production” performance center together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology and the Chemnitz University of Technology.

Opportunities for Projects and Funding Instruments:

    • Orders to the relevant partner companies
    • Technological partnerships with the partner companies
    • Potential participation in joint projects

Links to other trails:

The content of the following trails is linked to the trail entitled “From the digital product to new business models based on the example of smart maintenance.” They represent either a supplement to the subject matter or such considered from a different perspective:

    • Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems: “Smart sensor and production systems for Industrial IoT”
    • iSAX GmbH & Co. KG: “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the IoT”
    • T-Systems Multimedia Solutions GmbH: “Assisted reality” and “Digital innovation lab”

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