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Platform economy in the practice of mechanical engineering

Digitization and the platform economy will greatly change the mechanical and plant engineering industry in the coming years. Platform business models are the most successful business models in the era of digitalization. But this is no coincidence! They are shifting the previous thinking of value creation and are consistently using the digital means provided by technical development. This means that companies are faced with the challenge of finding the right place in the ecosystem of the platform economy.

  • But how can platforms be successfully implemented in mechanical engineering?
  • In which areas of this industry can this model be usefully applied?
Making value and revenue streams tangible

In this exchange of experiences, the value and revenue streams were described in a tangible, and thus comprehensible, way using practical examples. In addition, the various roles that can be assumed in the platform-based business ecosystem were explained.

Christoph Herr, Platform Economy and Enterprise Software Expert, VDMA Informatik, first conveyed the basics about the structure of platforms and outlined how digital ecosystems and the store floor fit together.

Dr. Donatus Weber, Director Digital Services, Kampf Schneid- und Wickeltechnik GmbH & Co. KG, Wiehl, reported on the importance of networks with cooperation partners and, in some cases, competitors and the role that individual companies can play in this ecosystem. He showed how mechanical engineering can also successfully use platform business models.

Following this, Alexander Sauer, Entwicklung & Konstruktion / Design & Development, Vollmer Werke Maschinenfabrik GmbH, a manufacturer of sharpening machines for the woodworking and metalworking industry, and Christian Schmitz, Managing Director of exceet Secure Solutions GmbH, gave an overview of how machine builders can implement an IoT platform without extensive programming in a case study. They emphasized that a secure infrastructure is the basis for successfully building a platform, as it creates trust among customers.

The practical example presented by thyssenkrupp Materials Processing Europe was dedicated to the topic of the introduction and integration of an IIoT platform. Michael Panzer, Head of Operational Excellence, and Sebastian Lang, Managing Director, gave an overview of how their customer, Materials Processing Europe, has successfully integrated lean and digitalization with thyssenkrupp in their presentation “Those who seek chaos think digitalization without lean! Another short case described the new construction of a stockholding steel distributor with production and prefabrication – here, Lean was used from the very beginning and directly anchored in the digital work flow.

The aim of the event was to provide member companies from the mechanical and plant engineering sector with a basic understanding of the opportunities and challenges of the platform economy and to create transparency with regard to functioning platforms and business models. The companies were to be given know-how and presented with practical examples in order to be able to operate successfully in the platform economy themselves and ultimately make the mechanical and plant engineering sector fit for the platform economy.


The event was offered by ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the competence network of mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is implemented by VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform for networking, informing and marketing companies, institutions and networks among themselves and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).