Reducing energy costs & downtimes – IoT at Bad Pyrmont wastewater treatment plant

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In this use case, everything initially revolves around the journey of the wastewater in the wastewater treatment plant of Bad Pyrmont in Lower Saxony and how this is accompanied by digital solutions. As the podcast continues, the motto is “think big” – Aerzen Digital Systems shows its broad digital map with many spots off the original route of gas extraction and compression. Madeleine Mickeleit’s interview guests for the 33rd episode of the Industrial IoT Podcast are Ricardo Wehrbein from Aerzen Digital Systems and Michael Raschke from Entsorgung Bad Pyrmont AöR.

Podcast episode summary

Aerzen Digital Systems stands for digitalization and digital transformation. The use of existing data interfaces, system integration, cloud solutions, cloud-to-cloud communication, predictive maintenance, smart cities or remote services – trends and buzzwords that are made the topic of this podcast episode.

The blowers and compressors of Aerzen are used in wastewater treatment plants and feed oxygen into the so-called biological cleaning process – so also in the sewage treatment plant of Bad Pyrmont. The process of biological treatment accounts for almost 70 % of the energy costs of a wastewater treatment plant. In addition to the absolute requirement of oil-free and cleanliness, the cost factor and CO2 emissions thus also play a significant role. Parameters like these are monitored and optimized using the Aerzen digital solution AERprogress. The solution also enables predictive maintenance: Using artificial intelligence and corresponding sensors on the machines, the system detects at an early stage as soon as a fault is imminent. The goal of Aerzen Digital Systems: The customer should be enabled to act instead of reacting. Downtimes are to be avoided, unplanned shutdowns are to be turned into planned ones. Via the platform, the customer is also able to order spare parts or inform a service technician immediately and at the push of a button.

Another topic of this podcast episode is global water stress and water scarcity. The need for wastewater treatment will increase, Aerzen said. The company – with its two and a half thousand employees and 50 sales and service companies – aims to meet the challenges of the future with smart and innovative solutions and further increase its efficiency. Joachim Wehrbein from Aerzen also describes how they ventured the step into consulting and offer machine builders consulting at eye level.

Furthermore, this episode discusses the increasing relevance of the topics of service and cooperation between customer and manufacturer in the industry and how Aerzen intends to break down data silos in cloud-to-cloud communication in the future.

Podcast interview

Hello Ricardo and Mr. Raschke – welcome to the IIoT Use Case Podcast. I am very happy that you are with us today. I would start directly with a short introduction round: Ricardo, would you like to say a few points about you and Aerzen Digital Systems and tell us what your core business is?

Ricardo

Hello Madeleine, Hello Mr. Raschke. My name is Ricardo Wehrbein. I work for the company Aerzen Digital Systems. It is a subsidiary of the AERZEN Group. AERZEN is a medium-sized company with two and a half thousand employees, founded in 1864. We produce rotary lobe blowers, screw compressors, turbo blowers, but also many diverse other components around the topic of conveying and compressing air and gases. We are mainly active in the fields of municipal wastewater treatment plants for wastewater treatment, but also in the pneumatic transport of bulk materials and the conveying and compression of neutral and aggressive gases.

 

We probably have a lot of engineers in the round, but perhaps also some business economists who have never heard of a rotary lobe blower. Can you tell us more about where exactly these plants are used and for what purpose?

Ricardo

Anyone who actually hears the word blower or compressor first thinks of their home compressor or maybe those typical compressors you see at gas stations to check the pressure on your tires. We do the whole thing in a somewhat larger dimension: We work there with corresponding screw compressors, which thereby function completely oil-free, which is a special feature of Aerzen products. And this one hundred percent oil-free environment that we guarantee is ultimately also used by the customer in our use case. Our blowers and compressors are used at wastewater treatment plants to feed air into the biological purification process. There, of course, absolute purity is what matters. This means, therefore, that we must not feed in any oils, but also no solids into this water to be clarified. The same applies to pneumatic transport. You can imagine it like this: You have larger piping systems with silos, which are then later loaded onto trucks. And in order to transport a granulate here, for example cement, but also foodstuffs such as powdered milk from A to B, these screw compressors are used. It is important to be 100 percent oil-free and 100 percent free of any other substances. Here, contamination with foreign substances can lead to entire production batches having to be destroyed or, in the worst case, even to these foreign substances getting into the end product and then perhaps even onto the end customer’s table if it is corn or sugar, for example.

 

Today in the round, we have the honor of not just talking to any wastewater treatment plant, but to the user directly from the water city of Bad Pyrmont. Before I come to you, Mr. Raschke, let me ask you again, Ricardo: What relevance does this area have for your business, also in terms of the environment and the overall social context?

Ricardo

The waste water sector is a very, very important area not only for us at Aerzen Digital Systems, but also of course for AERZEN itself. Especially this issue of water treatment. The Bad Pyrmont wastewater treatment plant, which we are talking about today, is about a “spa town” where, of course, the issue of water, fresh water, but also wastewater is ultimately at the heart of an entire city. And this is precisely where it is important not to make any compromises, because – and you have just said this correctly – this is of course also about certain quality requirements. Water quality is a very important topic for Bad Pyrmont, but also for the whole of Germany. The issue of introducing water into the natural cycle is also extremely important. You may have read somewhere in the press that it is also more common for groundwater to have effluent levels that are too high. This can always happen when the capacity of a wastewater treatment plant is no longer sufficient. These are issues that fortunately only occur very occasionally here in Germany during special seasonal events. But what is a much bigger issue is actually the global issue of water stress and water scarcity. This is becoming an incredibly prominent issue in the world. And this is what AERZEN is working on with its two and a half thousand employees worldwide and a total of 50 sales and service companies. At the moment, of course, the news is occupied by the Corona pandemic. But as you’ve seen sometimes with some illustrations, that’s basically only our short-term problem, but a long-term problem is climate change, which then ultimately has an impact on this issue of water stress and water scarcity. Today, about two and a half billion people already live in regions that are water-stressed or water-scarce areas. We have two opposing trends here that are intensifying: On the one hand, we have climate change, but also further population growth. And in order to be able to supply these ever increasing numbers of people in a reasonable manner, the issue of water must be addressed here as well. The issue of water has to be seen in two categories – that we have to try to provide as much fresh water as possible as drinking water, but also later to cultivate the fields worldwide. We have less and less land that is used or can be used for agriculture. And at the same time we also have less water. This means that in the next few years there will be a need for wastewater to reach a fresh quality or drinking water quality level again as well. This is a very, very important and central issue and this was also one of the main reasons why Aerzen Digital Systems with its products AERprogress exists today, in order to meet exactly these challenges of the future even further. And not just with highly efficient machines, as I have just described, but with machines that will be further improved by digital transformation, the influence of digitalization. The aim is also to further increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the structures that exist today for wastewater treatment.

 

An incredibly exciting topic in any case. Mr. Raschke, now to you to complete the round of introductions. Can you briefly tell us a few points about yourself and your responsibilities?

Michael Raschke

Of course, with pleasure. My name is Michael Raschke. I am a graduate engineer at Entsorgung Bad Pyrmont AöR. My areas of responsibility are wastewater treatment and water drainage in the sewer network with the radio works. Of course, this also includes the wastewater treatment plant as a downstream facility where cleaning takes place, and also the area of street cleaning as well as winter services, which also falls under the area of waste disposal.

 

What exactly is daily business at the wastewater treatment plant?

Michael Raschke

It’s mainly about wastewater discharge – about cleaning the wastewater and meeting the limits. On the plant itself, the plant components are maintained and cared for. The technical standard must be kept high so that we can meet the cleaning services we are commissioned to provide.

 

Now I talk a lot about digitization topics in the podcast. What relevance does the topic of digitization have for you at the wastewater treatment plant?

Michael Raschke

The topic of digitization was treated a bit neglected at the beginning, it has to be said, but has now been continued over the last few years. We have signed a contract with a company from North Rhine-Westphalia and work in association. This is the company Ibatec, which in turn cooperates with the company Phoenix. Here, we have arranged via a maintenance contract and service agreement that practically the system parts on the plant are monitored and renewed. This measurement and control technology comes as data transfer to our operation building into the computers and from there the work is monitored in the control room, so that we can control it at short notice and thus cleanly fulfill the functionality and operation of a wastewater treatment at the treatment plant.

 

For listeners who have never seen a wastewater treatment plant up close, I’d like to give them a virtual picture: What does it look like on site at your plant? What are the exact workings of the plant and what are the classic tasks of the employees here?

Michael Raschke

A sewage wastewater plant once has a mechanical part. There, at the entrance, we have the screw conveyors, which raise the wastewater from zero level to a certain level above ground, and then transfer the water flow in a gravity pipeline. The water continues to run through rakes there. The rake is important to filter out the hygiene items, for example. This then practically runs into a container and goes into incineration. Then the wastewater flow continues and here we have a grit chamber blower. There, air is introduced and thus it is achieved that the heavy components, such as sand or any other residual materials, practically sink to the bottom. We then draw this off and the wastewater continues to flow through and goes into a primary clarifier at our plant in Bad Pyrmont. We then remove the fats from this primary settling tank and feed them into the digestion tower to add a little more energy. The water flow then continues into the aeration tanks. In these tanks we have once nitrification and denitrification – so practically once with oxygen input and once without. Of these, we have a circular tank. From there, we move on to a rectangular tank, where we perform the cleaning performance with oxygen input only. All the other online probes are also placed there, which then practically lead back to the main computer, i.e. into the operations building, where the monitoring is carried out. The water treated there then runs into two secondary clarifiers, here there is an overflow. You can imagine it like this: The water level has a level, there’s an edge, it has to flow over it and through this it runs into a channel and is then discharged via the receiving water into the Emmer. This discharge is controlled by a monitoring authority every 14 days. What one can perhaps mention in addition: If you have put something into the digestion tower, i.e. you have really taken off wastewater, you have this fresh sludge – that is the one that comes from the primary clarifier. And then we have the excess sludge – that’s the one that comes out of an aeration tank. These two parts go to the digestion tower and are practically processed there, and after being passed on, they go to the sludge dewatering system, where we use a machine to dewater the sludge and put it into a container, where it is then sent for incineration. This would be the second cleaning circuit.

 

Now Mr. Raschke described some functional areas of the wastewater treatment plant. Today, we are using a very specific example to talk about the added value of digitalization data and IoT. Ricardo, where exactly was your product used here?

Ricardo

As Mr. Raschke has just said, we are actually focusing on two locations at a wastewater treatment plant. One is the so-called grit chamber blower, i.e. a component of mechanical cleaning. In the final analysis, we will focus on the biological purification tank, which is concerned with oxygen input. Now, of course, we are already very, very much into the details. This tank is repeatedly cycled through the nitrification and denitrification phases. There, our rotary lobe blowers, rotary lobe compressors and turbo blowers then realize this corresponding oxygen input. Of course, it also depends on different parameters, because we don’t really want to blow in air, but always pure oxygen, and this is what we are ultimately trying to maximize here. And if you look at a whole wastewater treatment plant, this area of this biological treatment comprises almost 60 to 70 percent of the total energy costs of a wastewater treatment plant. And that’s where it’s incredibly important, of course, to keep an eye on the area of energy costs – as well as the area of CO2 emissions. This is also the reason why we are not only talking about rotary lobe blowers here. These different technologies – rotary blowers, rotary compressors and turbo blowers – have their own unique characteristics. I’ll just compare this with a gasoline engine and a diesel engine. The diesel engine is better for long mileage, where the gasoline engine may be better for shorter distance driving. And then there are also naturally aspirated engines and turbocharged engines, which in turn have their own characteristics. This means that a wastewater treatment plant usually has a diesel engine, a gasoline engine and a turbo. And we at Aerzen, with our products and digital services, are monitoring how the synergy between these individual technologies is to keep improving energy efficiency. Of course, this is also a very important step towards increasing capacity and quality. Of course, this has to be rolled out to the entire world in order to deal with these issues that I raised earlier.

 

Definitely. But before that, let’s come back to the questions of everyday life and those of the use case. Mr. Raschke, what are the problems or challenges you encounter on a daily basis today?

Michael Raschke

Common points are, of course, damage that cannot be foreseen. If a pump breaks down or some relay switches off, of course you have to react. The employees are required to expand this, to obtain offers, but also to ensure that we can first maintain the cleaning performance and operation with existing parts. If this is then not possible, tenders will have to be invited and we will have to procure new parts. Otherwise, of course, it’s the monitoring, because we have not only this sewage treatment plant, but also pumping stations in the districts in Bad Pyrmont, which are about 15 km away. The drainage there goes to the pumping stations once and via a pressure line this is then practically also fed to the sewage treatment plant. This means that the pumping stations must also be monitored. That’s where you have to look: Is the pump still running? Does it have damage to the motor somewhere or is something broken in the control system somewhere? Or is it just a fuse that has blown? These are important points that we must always have on our radar.

 

Ricardo, you have just mentioned the 3 main keywords: Efficiency, quality and energy. There are now a wide variety of challenges that I can meet with new digital approaches – especially in the service area. Do you see similar challenges to Mr. Raschke, or are there others?

Ricardo

The challenges are certainly similar everywhere. Basically, of course, the first issue is availability and the prevention of damage, as Mr. Raschke has just said. And with our product AERprogress, we offer a corresponding solution for this, by means of which we permanently monitor the condition on our machines by means of artificial intelligence and corresponding sensors and also provide the customer with information if a corresponding fault is developing there. And not just a few hours in advance, but with enough time to be able to act actively here and not just react. At the wastewater treatment plant, the whole thing is very, very dramatic. If our blowers should fail and no redundancy is available, the corresponding wastewater volumes can no longer be treated and, in the worst case, they have to be discharged into the water cycle. That would be comparable to a nuclear meltdown, the worst case scenario. Of course, the whole thing exists in other areas as well. Let’s just take a look at a cement plant or a food manufacturer. There, of course, it is also important to maintain production. We also have customers who work seasonally. This means that production is carried out 24/7 for 11 months and then the machine must also run through this period. With our product, we can help to continuously monitor the machine. And even if something should come up, which is not always necessarily from the machine, but perhaps also from an upstream or downstream process, at least here we can turn the unplanned shutdown into a planned shutdown and provide service technicians, spare parts, etc. in advance. I think an important topic at this point is once again the topic of global service or remote service. We’ve just seen that now in times of COVID-19. Many employees had the opportunity to switch to a home office. For Mr. Raschke and his team, this is not so easy. That means they need decentralized organization of all their information. Now we are talking about Bad Pyrmont, but of course the whole thing can also be much bigger. And, of course, it is no secret that such larger cities as Hamburg or Berlin, for example, have several wastewater treatment plants that are managed by a central office. Here, of course, we also want to enable this decentralization with our approach, with AERprogress and the cloud behind it. And as Mr. Raschke naturally says in this aspect, he also wants to use digitalization to support his employees. I don’t think it’s a secret that there are, of course, fewer and fewer maintenance and service personnel. That is why both wastewater treatment plants and industrial customers are increasingly dependent on the service of manufacturers like AERZEN. That’s also where we really offer a 360-degree view with our solution. This means that we also provide assistance to the customer at the same time, so that smooth operation can always be guaranteed there.

 

You said it’s about damage in the field, about outages and downtime that can be reduced and prevented. What always interests me, especially in the IoT context, is the data that is obtained. What is data here that I need in the first place, that I need to collect in order to enable potentials like remote service? What is the machine data that is primarily of interest to you?

Ricardo

Basically, of course, the first thing is to collect as much data as possible. Now we had to gather experience – and of course this experience took a long time to mature until we went to market with it and developed a product from it – which is actually the relevant data for our services and business models. In other words, we match our sensor data and our sensor technology to the customer’s use case in order to make things as favorable as possible for the customer at the end of the day. Of course, we also work with data interfaces at this point – that is, where data is already available due to other sensor systems, we naturally also want to integrate it into our system. This was also the case, for example, with the online probe, which Mr. Raschke has already mentioned here. From my point of view, it doesn’t make sense – and this is actually the idea behind IoT – that sensors are ultimately used via a wide variety of components and via a wide variety of hierarchies. A unique selling point of Aerzen in this context is that we also include external data. Of course, this is also a bit of a company secret, but at this point I can say that we also use extended weather data, for example, to make our machines even more efficient at this point. And when you talk about wastewater, of course, it’s not just the wastewater that comes out of individual households, but we also have surface water, of course, which comes out of precipitation. And all of this is data that we also include at this point for the optimization of the customer.

 

Can you briefly explain to us what exactly these online probes are and then how the data gets to the cloud?

Ricardo

On the one hand, of course, we have the machine-related sensors – I’m talking about pressures, temperatures, oil levels, oil temperature, but also, for example, vibrations and the like. The online probe is placed in this aeration tank and measures exactly this oxygen content there, which is incredibly important for the biological purification process. In part, this sensor technology comes from us, but in part it is also installed by the wastewater treatment plant itself or the respective control system manufacturer there on the specific example. Here it is now that the value is transmitted to us at this point and our machines are controlled according to this variable, which this online probe measures. That is, when the oxygen level is relatively low, the machines are ramped up. Then the speed is controlled at this point and of course also in a certain cascade circuit. This means that if one blower is no longer sufficient, the next one is added, and so on. This is basically the measurement and control loop at this point, which is closed there. Of course, we would like as much data as possible to run through our platform at this point, because this naturally gives us a holistic view. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about – really having all the data available in order to realize as much added value for the customer as possible.

 

You just talked about regulating the oxygen content as an example. There is a certain intelligence behind it that first has to be converted into an algorithm. How exactly does your expertise come into play? Are these thresholds that are already set that you have to work together to set, or how does that work at that point?

Ricardo

In this case, when the machines are connected to our platform, we monitor remotely how the load curve – as it is called in technical jargon – is behaving. That is, how many cubic meters I need. And if the regulation is not carried out by us, but by the customer, we look at how this load curve is ultimately covered. Now I’m back to the example I gave earlier with the diesel car, gasoline engine and the turbocharger that ultimately sits on top of it. That means we see what the whole thing looks like, how fast does he want to go. And because we know where the sweet spots of our machines are with our know-how from over 150 years of mechanical engineering, we can of course adjust them accordingly. If this has not yet been carried out by us up to date, we will point out to the customer via our platform that a smarter way of driving is possible here. And of course, we then offer him not only the problem, but also a solution right away. This is then our AERsmart product as an energy manager, which is then used to deploy this combination of different blower technologies as efficiently as possible.

 

You mentioned it earlier – AERprogress. That’s also about the different services you offer. How exactly does this work and what are my options for optimizing my equipment with your service?

Ricardo

AERprogress is basically a shell first, where we put different services in. During the development of AERprogress, it was very important for us at AERZEN or Aerzen Digital Systems to put the customer and the customer benefit at the center of everything we do. There are many other companies that simply digitalize their products, that offer a cloud. This is not fundamentally wrong, but ultimately the added value for the customer falls by the wayside. And there we decidedly approached wastewater plant operators, wastewater plant foremen, but also plant managers and service technicians and asked: What is actually your typical job with the Aerzen blowers? What are your pains, but also your gains, that you experience during the day? As a result, we said: Okay, how can we now package the whole thing into smaller services? In the process, we came up with the so-called machine park management as a basis. This means that this supports the most diverse functions in a company in the operation of its Aerzen plants. At this point, it is possible for the plant manager or Mr. Raschke to see via the platform when appropriate services or maintenance are required. He can even instruct his local service technician himself via our platform to carry out maintenance and inspections. He sees not only individual machines, but his entire machine park. And as we have just said, this is still a relatively simple one in Bad Pyrmont. There you can basically see the Aerzen machines from the machine house. This is a much bigger problem in Berlin or Hamburg, and these are not the world’s megacities. And that’s basically our entry-level program or entry-level service here. But even that is really already a great added value for the customer at this point.

 

Mr. Raschke, how exactly do you use the data collected during ongoing operations in cooperation with Aerzen?

Michael Raschke

We have been working with AERZEN Maschinenfabrik for a very long time. We are also pleased about this, because we have the advantage that we can use the know-how to always be up to date here as well. We use the cleaning power of the corresponding device and ultimately save energy. In the beginning, the devices were controlled via our company building. A year ago, we started to take a closer look at this online stuff, and with Aerzen Digital Systems, we started down the new path of not just relating monitoring to the machine, but maybe connecting and linking all the other parts of the plant as well.



What competencies does Aerzen Digital Systems bring to the table here exactly, and how has the cooperation with the company worked so far?

Michael Raschke

Cooperation with the company has worked very well so far. We are interested in continuing that. We’ll see what the exact benefits are when we do the first evaluations on it. In cooperation with the company, we are also currently in the process of investing in or constructing a new aeration tank, so that we are then practically in top condition when it comes to the tendering process and the use of these new blowers. I think we’re going to get a very, very good use out of it. Through the conversations and the ideas of the system of the platform, I would say that’s working.

 

What other potential do you see for your business in the future through digital approaches?

Michael Raschke

Digital controls, or digital approaches in general, are of course a relief both for employees and for the rapid recording of problems, because they can be accessed quickly and at short notice. You are shown where you still have weak points that you can then practically eliminate – e.g. energy input or the air that you get through the blowers, which you can perhaps use differently or should use differently in order to then achieve practically 100 percent. I see great potential there. I would like the employees to accept that and deal with it. But since the staff here at the wastewater treatment plant is younger than I am, it’s actually natural. You just deal with things differently. That’s the future, where you have to go.

 

If a listener is interested and may have similar issues in front of them, may they contact you?

Michael Raschke

Of course, with pleasure. As a team, we would of course be happy to pass on and make available whatever experience we have gained and bring with us. You are welcome to meet us here at our facility.

 

Thank you very much. Mr. Raschke has already said that this is the future, and that’s what we have to achieve. We often talk about standalone solutions in the IoT context, that is, certain dedicated smaller solutions. In the end, however, I have to consider the entire wastewater treatment plant and perhaps also the supply chains or stakeholders around it. How do you understand the topic of digitalization here in the overall context?

Ricardo

With our machine park management, you can of course monitor our machines very, very well on the one hand. As a follow-up product, there is also the so-called energy management, where we proactively monitor our machines. Additional consumption that is not necessary is analyzed, identified and the customer is given indications of how much energy is currently being wasted there, so to speak. What does it cost him? And what is this then ultimately also expressed in CO2? You asked what that looks like for the stakeholders: Of course, our customers are also forced at this point to prove, according to various political, but of course also corporate agreements, where the energy is used or spent there in principle. And we can also prove all of this here in our reporting for the customer individually. Now, of course, we have a problem: Aerzen Digital Systems or the product AERprogress is currently only available for products from Aerzen. But the issue is of course not only relevant for the wastewater treatment plant, but also for the entire city. Mr. Raschke, talked earlier about the fact that he also has a wide variety of pumping stations that are about 15 kilometers from his actual office. So what is he doing there? That’s actually where we get to the point of the smart city. That is, we have done everything right at this point on the physical level first. So we have digitalized our blowers and probably the pump manufacturer has digitized their pumps at that point. But now it’s also about bringing these individual silos together. Now, of course, many people come and say: Yes, well, that’s no problem at all. We simply put a SCADA system on top of it and evaluate the data locally at this point and offer the customer a visualization, as has been common practice for the last 20 years. But what must and should be driven forward at this point by digitization and the IoT is cooperation between the customer and the manufacturer, because only we – and we have just highlighted this – know how best to drive our machines, the keyword being intelligent driving. And only we know, of course, how much energy is generated in principle by an incorrect driving style, a clogged filter or incorrect ventilation, which also reduces or worsens the oxygen content in the air. And in the same way, the pump manufacturer knows this best of all. And that’s exactly the point where we need the cloud in principle, to have the cooperation and a level of information with the manufacturer, so to speak. Here, information from different trades of the smart city can be exchanged and then, finally, on top of that, as the third level, the service and management level, where new information is consolidated from this information, always, of course, suitable for the corresponding decision-making level. And I believe that this is a very, very essential part, in which we also want to participate as Aerzen and push the topic of system integration further and further.

 

You’ve actually already brought it perfectly to the point: The bottom line is that cooperation between the customer and the manufacturer is incredibly relevant, and the cloud ultimately acts as an information layer in between, enabling this horizontal networking with different trades, such as the pump manufacturer. In this use case, the added value is really tangible. You really are active with many different machine and plant manufacturers and have an insane amount of expertise in the field. Do you share these experiences and if so, how exactly?

Ricardo

So we basically grew generically out of the first group because we saw exactly these challenges and experienced an incredible learning curve at this point. As you might hear now, we are also completely committed to this topic. We stand for the topic of digitalization and digital transformation, so to speak. And that’s exactly what we’ve also made into a small but fine second mainstay of ours. As a quasi-service, we offer what is known as AERconsult. This is a consulting service from the machine builder for the machine builder, because we simply say at this point: We also understand the machine builder with all his history and also with all his questions. How do I even manage to build up digital competence? How do I perhaps also have to view my customers in a completely different light in order to ultimately be able to offer added value here as well? The first customers we have in the AERconsult area have also already confirmed that it is a very, very welcome consultation simply at eye level. And that, in principle, you don’t just break down from these standard BWL concepts again and again, but that we start exactly where the pain of these mechanical engineers usually is. How do I find the relevant data in the first place? Everyone talks about AI. But how do I even find the relevant data for later artificial intelligence and the corresponding evaluation in the first place? And what do I even do when my customer says, “Yes, you’re welcome to do everything here, but I’m definitely not going to move my data to a cloud.” And we then tackle all of these topics together with other machine and plant manufacturers. And this small pillar has already developed into something very, very nice. And of course, it’s not just that it’s a mainstay for us, but it’s also great to see that we’re making a small contribution to the fact that German SMEs are of course moving further and further into this digital transformation.

 

Absolutely. The advantage is that you know the process from the other side and can take the learning curve with you. That’s where the closed loop is very nice. Now we had discussed the topic of the wastewater treatment plant. Do you maybe have another customer example from another area of how you approach consulting?

Ricardo

Yes, so our customers at this point are really not from our area of blowers or wastewater treatment plants, but we also talk there with quite normal machine plant manufacturers. They often come from the field of gearboxes, pumps, in fact of all kinds. In principle, however, they all have the same or similar questions, and as you just said, we have had a long learning curve. Of course – and this is no secret – we have also had our little mistakes or paid our dues. And that is simply something we can help to ensure that our AERconsult customers do not make these mistakes. And that’s also worth an incredible amount to them, because of course it also significantly reduces the time to market of their own digital business models.

 

What’s in store for you in the future? What might also be general potentials that you see?

Ricardo

As I just said, right now we are only active on our own blowers through this structural model. But the information should also be exchanged on this second cloud level. Of course, I expect to get much, much more information from other components of a wastewater treatment plant or from other components of an entire process. In the future, we will certainly continue to cooperate more and more with various plant manufacturers, e.g. of pneumatic conveying systems. And here, breaking down this supposed data silo at the cloud-to-cloud communication level, which I’ve just pointed out now. And then really be able to offer the end customer an incredibly great product at this point, which then really leads across all instances with the help of digitalization to ever greater efficiency and ultimately also availability and productivity.

 

Nice closing, Ricardo. Many, many thanks for the comments. Really an exciting topic and an exciting use case. Great and thanks for being there!

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Ing. Madeleine Mickeleit

Host & General Manager
IoT Use Case Podcast