An SME engineering company and digital transformation

The iceberg is melting and the penguins have to move out. Sebastian Mayer, member of the management at circular knitting machine manufacturer Mayer & Cie., mentioned John P. Kotter and his melting iceberg fable right at the beginning of his talk in the Albstadt Technologiewerkstatt, where in mid-April he dealt with digital transformation. “Fortunately”, Mayer said, “it has not yet hit us as a textile machinery manufacturer with the force we are aware of from, say, the media”. Sebastian Mayer, head of corporate development at the family firm, is grateful for this delay. “It takes the pressure off us,” he says, “enabling us to take a considered, step by step approach.”

So in recent years the circular knitting machine manufacturer has sought to lay firm foundations for digital change and updated its ERP-system, forming the basis for further modules. Sales, service and customer care are to benefit in the future from the digital possibilities. Existing customer data is first to be centralized and systematized. Data from an entire range of channels and points of contact will then be merged, evaluated and made available. “This knowledge already exists as ‘head knowledge’ somewhere between here and Argentina,” says head of corporate development Mayer, “but it is not available at short notice for evaluation. Our aim is to bundle it by means of a various systems to arrive at a multichannel strategy.” In addition, a new communication tool is to make it easier to communicate within the Group and to share information with sales partners around the world.

All these activities focus on the client who in the future is to receive yet better consultancy and to find shorter processes. There is, for example, a web-shop in planning, which will facilitate ordering of spare parts and consumables.

Where, apart from these specific projects, the company is heading Sebastian Mayer outlined at the end of his talk. Findings from the central database are to flow into the development of new machines, for example, to improve consulting services and in the best case, he said, “become automated processes. A predictive maintenance system may serve as an example. Our machine will then not only tell the knitter it is time to replace a part; the machine will order it too. But that is something we will be looking into after next year’s ITMA.”

Record attendance at the Technologiewerkstatt: Sebastian Mayer’s talk on digitization at a circular knitting machine manufacturer attracted a large audience.