Benjamin Franz, as a sales expert you are in constant contact with potential and existing users of arburgXworld. How well received is the customer portal in the injection moulding industry?
Franz: Very well. Our customers greatly appreciate the fact that arburgXworld offers genuine added value and many features that allow them to make their daily operations even more efficient – and all this in the basic version without any costs and hence without any risk! At the moment, most of the portal's users are in Germany, which is somewhat related to our roll-out strategy. Because Germany is where we started the market launch in spring 2019, before the worldwide launch followed in autumn. We are also seeing high demand in the US, in France and Eastern Europe, for example.
As an applications developer of digital products, you will certainly be interested to know how the new ideas and solutions are received by the market. Stephan Reich, which experiences have you made in this respect?
Reich: Our cloud solution has been very well received by customers – and as a developer I might add with some pride: Sure, because it is unique. The current top performers are the two free Shop and MachineCenter apps. We had anticipated this, because customers can order spare parts in the Shop very conveniently and at attractive conditions around the clock. With central access to production-relevant information and documents, the MachineCenter offers transparency regarding your own machine fleet. But premium services such as SelfService, MachineFinder and the VirtualControl app are also in high demand.
This should be particularly interesting in the current situation. What role does the coronavirus pandemic play in the context of arburgXworld?
Franz: As an example I would like to mention the premium VirtualControl app, which simulates machine control on a PC or tablet. It already met with great interest at K 2019, and this interest has increased significantly again. Because the app offers clear advantages, especially when working from a home office: Installation technicians can use it to simulate and edit injection moulding programs from home and to perform troubleshooting. The data can then be transferred directly to the machine, e.g. via the ALS host computer system or from a Compact Flash card.
Reich: Many companies avoid business trips or on-site visits because of Corona. That is why we now offer the option of remote machine acceptance, where our sales expert goes through the specifications together with the customer. The process is aided by special camera equipment so that all requirements can be visually checked item by item. At the end, customers receive a detailed report with additional visual documentation. This is time and cost efficient and an exciting option for the future. Just like online support via Arburg Remote Service, ARS. To enable standardised networking, all our new Allrounders are equipped with an IIoT gateway and have basic connectivity.
How important do you think arburgXworld will be in the medium and long term?
Franz: arburgXworld addresses the entire horizontal and vertical value chain. K 2019 has shown that our customer portal offers one of the most comprehensive ranges of digital products and services in the injection moulding field. And we continue to expand this in a targeted manner.
Reich: Since autumn 2020, we have successfully grouped the numerous apps into four packages from which virtually everyone, from machine operators to managing directors, can benefit in their daily work: Among other things, the free "Basic" package provides an overview of the machine fleet, service history and upcoming maintenance work. The "Premium" package, which is subject to a fee, enables machine availability to be significantly increased, for example thanks to extended digital machine files and video telephony. The "Premium Plus" option provides access to calculation tools and detailed Arburg knowledge databases. And finally, in "Connect” we have combined machine-related expansion options for digital networking.
What are the hot new features for users of arburgXworld?
Reich: We now offer tutorials for the individual apps, which explain the functions and application options. The Shop app can now be connected directly to the ERP systems of our customers via an OCI interface (Open Catalog Interface). This allows purchasers to order spare parts as usual via their own ERP system. The order is then automatically transferred to the Shop, saving time and extra effort.
Franz: And we also create financial incentives. The Shop offers country-specific sales promotions, which are only available online through the app. Anyone who registers for arburgXworld and uses the Arburg Remote Service receives a warranty extension for new machines of three or six months, depending on the country. In addition, customers purchasing a new machine will receive a voucher for retrofitting the " 4.Service" assistance package on two of their older injection moulding machines manufactured from 2014 onwards at a special price. So using our customer portal is clearly worthwhile.
Why do you have to register for arburgXworld and who should definitely join?
Franz: arburgXworld is interesting at all hierarchical levels of injection moulding companies: Managing directors can obtain an overview of current orders and utilization of their machines, production managers can plan and optimise production. While service and maintenance technicians are interested in the service history, spare parts orders, documents stored in the MachineCenter and upcoming maintenance events, purchasers can use the MachineFinder and Configurator apps, for example. The Allrounder 270 S compact is the first of our injection moulding machines that can be configured and ordered online through an app. The Thermolift 100-3 pellet dryer and conveyor was added in late October. We will continue to expand this portfolio.
Reich: The customer portal therefore reflects the entire world of our customers' companies and this is reflected in its scope. Because it contains much customer-specific information, it is important to define a master user within a company and to clarify during user registration who can access information on the machine park and for the configuration of new machines, or who can order spare parts. Our sales consultants are happy to give customers a live demonstration of how all this works. We have also set up a physical Info point on digitalisation at our headquarters in Lossburg, where our customers can get advice and try out the customer portal for themselves.
How secure is customer data when the machines are networked?
Reich: The machines can be connected to the customer portal via the ALS host computer system or via the MachineDashboard app. All other apps in the basic and premium versions of arburgXworld do not transmit any data. Data transfer is always carried out according to the most current state of the art – absolutely secure and only accessible to customers. This is comparable to a "digital room" to which only the customer has a key.
Franz: A brand new feature is the possibility to integrate the additive manufacturing systems into the whole production landscape of a company via the customer portal when using Freeformers. Successful and seamless monitoring and documentation of process and build order data plays an important role in this context.
This all sounds very exciting. What are Arburg's goals, or in other words: Where is this journey taking us – will the plastics industry be operating in a fully digital world in the future?
Reich: We have been and still are a pioneer in many areas of our industry. That is why we are addressing the question of how digitalisation can be used to increase production efficiency in plastics processing, today and in the future. We have also come a long way in terms of our own internal processes, such as our own digital logistics and manufacturing processes. Based on this know-how, we continuously develop new solutions and products, including for our customers. arburgXworld as a central platform is a really major milestone in this regard.
Franz: And digitalisation is fast becoming an increasingly significant factor for our customers while contacts are also becoming increasingly digital. Traditional communication by telephone and personal meetings are and will remain important, however. We will merge these two worlds in a meaningful way. I think we can offer a good mix in this regard and that we are on the right track. Together with our customers and partners, we are embarking on a journey towards digital transformation. It is our goal to support our customers with advice and assistance and to create "connectivity", as it were, between them, our machines and Arburg.