Digitalisation: The key enabler
Linde’s aftersales services portfolio was recently rebranded under LINDE PLANTSERV: a comprehensive, one-stop shop aiming to further enhance the customer experience. The PLANTSERV team, led by Kühner, consists of 60 dedicated employees in Munich with a further 40 world-wide and a engineering team within the matrix organization – each with in-depth technological expertise and a wealth of experience across all four of Linde Engineering’s major products: air separation units, natural gas plants, petrochemical plants and hydrogen and synthesis gas plants. As engineers, they know the plants better than anyone else – they did design and build them after all.
As well as spare part management, PLANTSERV covers plant modifications and revamps, maintenance and repair, training and operational support: all necessary elements for cost-efficient and safe plant operation. But increasingly so, digitalisation is the key enabler for the enhanced services offering.
“It’s all about scaling the expertise,” explains Kühner, “When you’re looking at how you can optimise services for customers without bringing extra costs to the table, you immediately start to think of ways in which you can benefit from digitalisation,” he adds.
Indeed, the suite of digital services is growing: it’s a journey that Linde started and is set to continue. As well as the portal, LINDE PLANTSERV offers remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, virtual trainings and augmented reality (AR) based repairs via LindeGO.
“Since Linde Gas operates most of its plants through Remote Operating Centres (ROCs), we are in the unique position where we can combine our domain know-how with the huge data sets collected on these servers,” explains Kühner. “We can use this data to see how efficiently and reliably facilities are operating as well as for predictive maintenance.”
The portal – and indeed many of the digital services available – was developed by Linde Engineering in close collaboration with the digitalisation team based at the Digital Base Camp in Pullach. It is this team that is currently leveraging the vast streams of historical data relating to plant operations that Linde has at its fingertips. And it seems it is just getting started.
“Right now, we are focusing on the core. But there will be extensions to come,” says Kühner, “spare part tracking via QR codes, spare part exchange between customers…we have over 50 ideas!”