STRATEGY FOR DIGITIZING THE STEEL INDUSTRY
To this day, the steel industry supply chain is highly inefficient. Without a comprehensive digital order and production management system, customer orders are still predominantly placed by phone, fax or e-mail. The upshot is not just high inventory levels at every link in the value chain, which tie up large amounts of capital, but also substantial process costs for everyone concerned. These inefficiencies also have the effect of protracting the time needed from production to delivery, thus eating into further income potential. We aim to establish an end-to-end flow of digital information from producers all the way down to customers that will eliminate these inefficiencies and revolutionize the entire industry.
Test & Develop
We take a radically customer and user-centric approach to developing new digital solutions. In order to establish such game-changing digital solutions for customers and market partners within the shortest possible time, the kloeckner.i team intensively exploits the same methods used by successful startups, including design thinking, agile product development and the lean startup approach. The first step is to conduct an on-site evaluation at the customer’s premises of how we can create added value. Drawing on our findings, we rapidly devise basic prototypes which, to begin with, consciously only cover the key functions. Hand in hand with the customer, we then engage in continual testing and fine-tuning – i.e. using the build-measure-learn feedback loop – to determine whether and how far the tool in its current form meets the requirements. Only those prototypes approved by the customer are developed into solutions and rolled out globally.
Tools & Processes
Our customers are already successfully operating the first digital tools, such as a contract platform. In procurement, we now have full EDI integration with wholesalers and major steel producers. All tools and data are incorporated step by step into the Klöckner service platform, providing a central access point for partners and customers to use the information to their advantage. Yet this, too, is merely a stepping stone on the road to creating an industry platform that will not only serve customers and suppliers but also be open to competitors.
Thanks to our high-caliber digital expertise, we are today’s preferred steel industry partner for cross-sectoral online trading and Industry 4.0 projects. Under a cooperation agreement with online trader Contorion, we have entered the attractive business of online sales to tradespeople and private customers. At the same time, we have entered into an exclusive partnership with high-tech company Trumpf to implement an Industry 4.0 project that will enable production equipment to independently order steel from us going forward. To this end, the Klöckner & Co contract platform has already been integrated into our customer solution’s user interface.