Anyone who has ever been to a market knows the problem: countless market stalls with the same product range. Where do you buy the strawberries for your cake? A variety of factors influence your decision where to buy them such as personal preferences, environment, or current situation. If you have time and want to buy the most beautiful and tasty strawberries, you will probably buy the strawberries with the best quality and the most attractive presentation. If you have a small budget and are under time pressure, you will tend to target the next best, least crowded stalls with the cheapest strawberries. So, how should a stand position himself when there are 100s of other market stalls selling strawberries and still achieve the greatest possible added value? By market differentiation!
Clearly position your offering with a correspondingly appropriate market presence and value proposition is essential. But that alone is not enough. The value proposition must also be implemented and the path to purchase must be as simple and pleasant as possible.
Market differentiation – but how?
What are the possibilities to stand out from the market if it is not to be about price? Going back to our market stall example, the market stall operator can basically stand out from the other strawberry stalls as follows:
- Through the product (differentiation through quality, performance, image, design, service life, etc.)
- Through the service (differentiation through service quality, delivery, additional services)
- Through the personnel (differentiation through competence, politeness and building a personal customer relationship)
What applies to the market stall operator also applies to a machine builder in heavy industry. Both have the same problem: many competitors, products that are becoming increasingly interchangeable and customers who are not prepared to pay more for a comparable product if they do not see any added value in it.
With Predictive Maintenance, machine operators get many new opportunities to stand out from the market an all three described levels: Product, Service, and Personnel.
Differentiate through the product: Make your machine unique with smart features and unique quality
Old machine has had its day? Intelligent machines are expensive to develop? No way! With a modular predictive maintenance solution, existing and new machines can become intelligent quickly and cost-effectively. This opens the door to attractive conversion projects and smart machines that perform better than the competition. The result?
The machine is no longer one among 1000 others, the customer gets additional features that bring him added value and sales discussions no longer revolve around the lowest price. Once successfully established in the market, the data shared with the customer offers a lot of room for possible new developments and product improvements that can make the machine builder a pioneer in its market.
Differentiate through service: Provide excellent, proactive support, and new services
Based on the operational knowledge, machine manufacturers can proactively support maintenance managers – be it in eliminating unloved pains or in achieving the customer´s goals of maximum production and optimal maintenance. Thanks to machine data, the machine manufacturer recognizes customer needs at an early stage (e.g. a spare part has to be replaced in 10 weeks based on the prediction of the smart machine) or possible dangers (e.g. anomalies during ongoing operation such as a belt misalignment that is in danger of failing) and can proactively draw the customer’s attention to them and advise him.
He can also offer new maintenance packages (from basic packages to all-round carefree services) with remote support, warehousing services, just-in-time deliveries, extended warranties, etc. In support cases, the customer does not have to explain everything, but the staff knows how the machine is operated, where the shoe pinches and can offer suitable solutions immediately. With these data knowledge, the machine manufacturer identifies customer needs before his competitors and stands out decisively from its competitors with added-value-services. This would not be possible to the same extent without data.
Differentiate through personnel: Build trust, new skills, and deep knowledge about customers and their machines
The hidden but often underestimated success factor: the personnel! As already described in the strawberry story, the path to purchase is just as crucial as the product itself. The customer journey should be as pleasant as possible. And it’s the people who make a huge difference! The customer wants to feel well taken care of, and as with any relationship, trust is the basis for a long-term customer relationship.
Data insights provide transparency for both sides: Employees of machine manufacturers can provide their customers with the best possible advice and support, and customers can see how the machine and spare parts perform under a wide range of production conditions. In this way, knowledge is built up on both sides and the machine manufacturer’s employees can support the customer in the best possible way. This creates trust. Combined with proactive, thoughtful, and friendly support, customers experience the cooperation with the machine manufacturer in a positive way (even if something goes wrong) and go back to their daily business with a good feeling. This leaves a mark: the customer stores the positive experience and will return if there is a further need and make a strong case for the machine manufacturer over purchasing.
Market differentiation in the heavy industry thanks to Predictive Maintenance
Progress matters! Standing still is no option to meet today´s needs of customers. Every unforeseen machine breakdown means a loss of money, trust, and customer loyalty – be it for machine manufacturers, the production plants, or their customers. Predictive Maintenance opens up new ways of doing business differently and to successfully differentiate in the long-term with smart machines, state-of-the-art products and proactive, high-quality services. Machine insights play a crucial role to optimize and enhance machines, generate new revenue streams, and exceed customer expectations. This creates added value for all – machine manufacturers and their customers.