“Innovation no longer happens within a company’s four walls”

innovation | Read how cross-industry collaboration from two global companies brought a game-changing IoT solution from the drawing board to volume production.

Kevin Walsh, Celestica

Kevin Walsh, Celestica

Sascha Frömming

Sascha Frömming, thyssenkrupp Elevator

That a collaborative approach is essential for successful IoT innovations is evident when speaking with Sascha Frömming, Head of Innovation and Sustainability at thyssenkrupp Elevator and Kevin Walsh, Vice President and General Manager, Industrial & HealthTech, of Celestica. Celestica is the current hardware provider for thyssenkrupp Elevator’s MAX, the elevator industry’s first real-time, cloud-based predictive maintenance solution.

From your perspective, why is cross-industry collaboration essential for remaining innovative?

Sascha: We are living in a world of complexities, so to imagine that companies across industries do not need to collaborate in order to innovate successfully would be short sighted. The ways and means that people live, move and interact with each other and their environments is becoming so multifaceted that I don’t believe any company can afford to function with a “silo” mentality.

Kevin: All leading companies are looking across industries and throughout their supply chains to drive smarter solutions for the future. Companies that embrace the opportunity to foster an ecosystem of partners that can understand reliability and quality are poised to bring to market a range of innovations that have the potential to change the way we do things.

What are the main factors for success in cross-industry collaborations for solutions like MAX?

Kevin: I would say the main factor is understanding how to engage the right partners. Companies need to know what they do well and what expertise they need to source from others.

Sascha: I agree – no company can be an expert in all industries and this fact was the basis for our decision to partner with Celestica. Having thyssenkrupp as the domain expert in elevators, and Celestica as a reliable partner in all aspects of electronics including design, sourcing, manufacturing and testing  – it was a perfect fit for a solution like MAX.

No company can be an expert in all industries

Sascha FrömmingHead of Innovation and Sustainability

What are the main challenges in transforming a solution like MAX from the “customized” prototype phase to the commercial product phase that it is in now?

Sascha: One of the challenges is to find the right partnerships and people to help you make this shift, and in this regard we found Celestica to be the best match for us. Of course, cost is always a key factor and maintaining quality standards along with economies of scale when moving from the lab to mass production is also a challenge.

Kevin: Understanding that quality and innovation are the hallmarks of thyssenkrupp’s brand, the main challenge for Celestica was managing design changes and iterations throughout the process without sacrificing quality or reliability or experiencing setbacks impacting time-to-market for MAX.

Kevin, what was the most interesting aspect of the collaboration for you?

Kevin: It was exciting to participate in the first wave of an IoT-enabled product; this is completely in line with our strategy and we are pleased to have played a role in helping thyssenkrupp to transform the elevator service industry. Another interesting aspect was the collaborative approach across multiple geographies – cross site and functional collaboration was critical working across multiple time zones with European, American and Asian teams.

What are the most significant ways in which you see IoT impacting your respective industries?

Sascha: I think we can already see a major impact of IoT in the elevator service industry. Since thyssenkrupp launched MAX, every major competitor has also announced associations with entities providing cloud-based services, tied into predictive maintenance and an overall improvement in how we as an industry deliver services to the customer. For technicians in the field, I think this is a huge opportunity to tap into a wealth of data on elevators around the world and learn about system patterns, equipment requirements, and get statistics to support and justify their maintenance predictions.

Kevin: Right now, IoT is about enabling connectivity and embedded intelligence across a broad range of products, many of which are not connected today. But in the future, I think this will be the ‘new normal’, where companies will create new business models and offer innovative solutions to the most complex challenges.

Intelligence will be the ‘new normal’

Kevin WalshVice President and General Manager Industrial & HealthTech

What do you see as the determining factors for producing successful IoT solutions?

Sascha: Early innovation – Everyone is working to leverage IoT in their businesses so it is essential to differentiate from competitors and that means prioritizing and investing in R&D early on.

Kevin: Companies need to think about how IoT is disrupting business models and changing the way they design, innovate and bring products to market – IoT even changes a company’s value chain. So in order to be successful, engaging the right ecosystem is crucial.

See how MAX is set to transform the elevator service industry here.

Read more about Celestica here.

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