Festo SE & Co. KG and the joint venture FlexFactory GmbH of MHP, Munich Re and Porsche are consolidating their strategic partnership and entering the market with a joint offering for machine and plant manufacturers as well as plant and equipment operators. The aim of the partnership is to enable the production of a wide range of product variants in a more flexible and cost-efficient manner.
Shorter product life cycles require flexible machine and plant concepts. This is the only way to reduce business and operational risks during investment and operation. Festo and FlexFactory support the development of flexible production, realised in an innovative "as a service" business model. "Maintenance as a Service" or "Equipment as a Service" models are essential components of this offer. This creates a flexible and scalable production concept that enables manufacturing of different product variants within a production line through "pay per part" or "pay per use" models. This significantly reduces financial risks compared to conventional concepts.
As the market leader in automation technology, Festo provides both its experience in production automation and its extensive range of components from pneumatic and electrical control and drive technology. In addition, Festo's AI-based software solutions, such as Festo AX and Smartenance, help to evaluate machine data and provide insights into the machine status to avoid failures.
FlexFactory, a joint venture between MHP, Munich Re and Porsche, acts as a business enabler and orchestrator. It does not provide its own production lines but offers the knowledge and corresponding services to set up a flexible production as a service concept from a single source: "Digital Production as a Service". In addition, it provides support in the actual implementation of the specific customer project.
To support machine and plant builders in the expansion and transformation of their business model, the joint offer within the partnership covers three solutions that build upon each other:
In a joint development project, both companies have tested the combination of their product offerings in Festo's technology factory at Scharnhausen: In the pilot, Festo's maintenance software Smartenance collects data and makes it available to FlexFactory's Risk Balance Board via a so-called Digital Financial Twin. This allows individual process steps on the shop floor to be evaluated and continuously monitored in near real time. The aim is to increase the productivity and profitability of the machines and systems through early intervention.
"Festo's expertise in automation technology for machines and systems makes it an ideal partner for the transformation of production towards an innovative "as a service" business model – a model we are accelerating," says Dr Phillipp Hypko, Managing Director at FlexFactory. "In the implementation of a Digital Financial Twin, Festo's AI-based software solutions are very valuable because they allow us to calculate the offers in a more differentiated way. In this way, the positive effects of an "as a service" model come into effect even better," emphasises Philip Plattmeier, Managing Director at FlexFactory.
"FlexFactory's innovative offer is unique on the market. For us as a manufacturer of components and software in the field of automation technology, it is important to be involved right from the beginning in order to be able to help shape service-based offerings. In this way, we help our customers with their business transformation towards Industry 4.0," says Dr Oliver Niese, Vice President Digital Business at Festo.