Think Tank

26.06.2018

Think Tank

Digitalization and networking are key topics for FUCHS, as they are almost everywhere in the industry. Our approach focuses on much more than just efficient communication. Business should be more transparent, data treasures should be extracted, making entirely new business models possible. The epicenter of these developments is the newly established inoviga GmbH.

Anyone going there, where FUCHS is bundling its interests in things related to digitalization, moves to a place far away from production facilities, tanks and chimneys. This path leads to the Lindenhof district of Mannheim, close to the city, to the Mafinex campus for high-tech startups. Approximately 60 new companies are based in the modern, segmented office building: software developers, internet startups, highly specialized engineering service providers – including of course inoviga GmbH, the newest subsidiary of the FUCHS family.

“We are developing concepts so that FUCHS – in light of the disruptive changes caused by digitalization – can continue its success story and make use of its strengths in new ways,” says inoviga Managing Director Dr. Matthias Marquart. To be really independent of established routines, a decision was made to set up a new company. Intentionally the site was located apart from the FUCHS headquarters to make clear that it serves all Group companies equally as a think tank: “The digitalized world knows no borders in the traditional sense,” emphasizes Marquart. “Therefore, it’s important to us to take various local needs and cultural characteristics into consideration.”

inoviga GmbH

was established as a wholly owned subsidiary of FUCHS PETROLUB SE at the end of 2016. The name highlights the objective and the mandate, which is extensive and not limited to specific markets: inoviga is derived from the word “novigo”, which means “innovation” in Esperanto, a language spoken all over the world.

Of course, a small innovation developer operating outside existing structures cannot cover all aspects that come with the mega-topic of digitalization. FUCHS is further developing its digital infrastructure at all levels. The expanded intranet and new, cloud-based office and communication solutions simplify global open communication, an element of the DNA at FUCHS. Other global IT projects relate to customer management and personnel management. Modifications to the central ERP systems ensure that the company is prepared for future requirements and possible new business models.

In turn, what such requirements and business models might look like is one of the issues which Matthias Marquart and his colleagues deal with. Other key areas for the four-person team are e-commerce, big data – i. e. the question of how process and market data can be leveraged – and the Internet of Things. “In this broad field, it is a case of identifying issues with which we can generate added value for FUCHS,” explains Marquart. inoviga is generally responsible only for conceptual questions and interlinking networks: “We transfer results into the organization. However, the respective FUCHS companies are responsible for the operational implementation.”

The inoviga team

currently comprises four employees. Its diversity reflects the broad spectrum of topics inoviga deals with. Managing Director Dr. Matthias Marquart is a qualified mechanical engineer and has been working with a variety of digitalization topics at FUCHS for many years. The team also includes an economist with experience in innovation projects, an engineer special­izing in microtechnology and sensors and an experienced FUCHS global key account manager from the USA.

However, being well connected in the Group is important not only for implementation, but also for identifying topics. This is the reason that Marquart was on the road for months, presenting inoviga in countless meetings together with his first colleague. With success: FUCHS employees now come up regularly with ideas, their own projects and findings. “When a colleague in the USA hears a report about a startup or an app in the car and thinks that this is exciting for FUCHS, then he or she sends me a brief message with the link afterwards.”

The inoviga Managing Director is more reserved when talking about specific projects. He is happy to outline just rough scenarios: “In a world of Facebook and Amazon, users want their questions answered and products delivered with one click.” How­ever, creating a corresponding global online platform for an organization that is strictly subdivided into regional responsibilities, business and product segments, is a major challenge.

Scenario number two toys with the idea of offering a specific function as a service in the future instead of the lubricant product. “For example, if we want to guarantee a certain running time for machines, we need more than just sensors to monitor the condition of the lubricant,” explains Marquart. “The system should also respond automatically, for example to order replacements.” This is a comprehensive integration task that also includes production planning, logistics, warehousing and accounting. What is clear is that a holistic plan such as this to restructure the business is, for the time being, still just a dream of the future. However, since inoviga’s establishment, it has at least been clarified who is responsible for making it reality.

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