In Sight KTR Podcast Episode 16: KTR Ident – Everything transparent

Julia Ures: “In Sight KTR” is here and we’re starting right into a new episode, in which we’re going to tackle the topic: What is KTR Ident? I am very pleased about your interest and about the two contact persons and experts in the studio. This is Karsten Galle, Engineered Business Material Management and Disposition, and how long have you been at KTR?

Karsten Galle: I joined the KTR Group in March 2011.

Julia Ures: And today you have landed here in the middle of “In Sight KTR”.

Karsten Galle: Exactly!

Julia Ures: And then we have the other Carsten, Carsten Mithöfer, process manager at KTR. And how long have you been on board?

Carsten Mithöfer: Since 2013.

Julia Ures: How often do you deal with each other? It’s always such an interesting matter.

Carsten Mithöfer:  We didn’t have much to do with each other before. Then we started this project four years ago and since then we have been supporting this product “KTR Ident”. And since then, we’ve been in regular contact. Since it is always about further developments, what can we do for the customers or for the process itself, how can we improve it? And that’s why we’ve been dealing with each other very regularly since then.

Karten Galle: Yes.

Julia Ures: For example, today. And so, we are right in the middle of the topic KTR Ident. What exactly is that? And Mr. Mithöfer, I’d like to know how this works?

Carsten Mithöfer: KTR Ident is the process, as KTR does it, around a serial number of a product. For example, if we take the cell phone, which is here, or this industrial cell phone, it has a serial number on the back. That’s normal for such products. Cars have one, mobile phones have one, computers have one, there’s always a serial number. And it’s not enough to just put a serial number on the back of a product, write or print on it. You also have to deposit data behind it. And that’s the whole system around KTR Ident, which means we give this high-quality coupling a unique number, which is only available once in this KTR spectrum, and then we can store data on that serial number in our SAP ERP system, a central repository, which then describes exactly what this product was made of and what characteristics it has, unique to this part.

Julia Ures: You have brought these stickers here. For those of you who are listening to us in the podcast and who are missing the picture right now: These stickers are about 2. 5 centimetres long. There you can find the KTR logo. Besides, we have the Ident and then a number and a QR code. And these stickers, Mr. Mithöfer, where are they attached?

Carsten Mithöfer: This is precisely described, for the production employee, and marked on the drawing, where this sticker had to be attached. Of course, this is then agreed with the customer, where the sticker goes. And if, for example, it is decided in the engineering area where the sticker will go, then the factory worker must follow this in production. Subsequently, the data is recorded with the help of a mobile hand-held device at the respective workbench. So while the process is going on, he will collect data. This could be, for example, a diameter of a hole that the customer is keen to know, or other important information for the customer that he or she would like to have about that product after this value creation process. This is the data that we collect.

Julia Ures: Mr. Galle, if we summarize this again, what information, what data does the customer get when he scans this QR code, for example?

Karsten Galle: The customer decides for himself what is important to him, and if he wants to know about the origin of the material, i. e. the original batch from the steelworks, from which the coupling was made, then he can get all the building properties he considers necessary or that he considers important for this coupling as well.

Julia Ures: Does that mean you create it individually for each customer?

Karsten Galle: Yes, that’s right! The basis of the entire elaboration is the customer’s specification.

Julia Ures: Can you adjust it later? So, if the customer says, oh man, there’s something, we don’t need anymore, but we might need other information more often?

Karsten Galle: That’s possible, yes. You can specify anonymous parts that were not particularly important to the customer, you can also specify them afterwards so that we can collect data and so on. Perhaps as a supplement, which I also think is important: we can roll out this mobile application worldwide or we can connect all companies worldwide without any changes. This means that if we have suppliers in India who have to complete documentation that is important to us, they can work with the handheld device just as they do here in Germany, too. And that’s a big advantage. There is no national limit.

Julia Ures: So, in purely practical terms it works like this: You prepare everything IT-wise and then send the stickers and this handheld device to India? Is that what I think of?

Karsten Galle: Yes, for example.

Julia Ures: Mr. Mithöfer, can I already use this app for all KTR products, or is there still something missing?

Carsten Mithöfer: No, this can be used for all KTR products. This is now also being rolled out at Rheine and the other surroundings locations. So, the manufacturing companies that work for us are also connected to this system. And basically, it is suitable for every KTR product. We started with wind power couplings and have now switched to this system in many other product segments. And now we are also in the process of adding the brakes at KBS in Schloss Holte. They will now also work with KTR Ident. And as Mr. Galle said, we will also increasingly include suppliers in this system in the future, so that we can make processes safer and cleaner for everyone.

Julia Ures: Mr. Galle, at “In Sight KTR” we always receive questions about the announced topics. So, in this case also on KTR Ident. And if you have any further questions and suggestions for further episodes, please feel free to send them to the email address socialmedia@ktr.com. A question that has reached us for today: how did you come up with the idea of getting the whole thing going? What kind of need has there been at the customer’s side? And how did you find out?

Karsten Galle: We’ve noticed that we have to spend a lot of time on documenting a wind power coupling to compile all the documents that a customer wants to have for that coupling or that type of coupling. The problem was to bring the different media together. So, we got e-mails, we got Excel sheets, PDFs. At the end, an employee had to sit down just before delivery and had to merge all these different data into one document for the customer. Each customer received a special document, which was unique. There were no standards, and it was always very elaborate.

Julia Ures: Sounds like a Sisyphus work.

Karsten Galle: Exactly! And that’s what we changed. We wanted to offer the customer a KTR standard that always looks the same, that no matter which product he orders from KTR, it is always made available in the same order and in the same look. And that’s how the whole thing was built. The impetus came from an internal initiative. At that time, Dr. Partmann gave us the job and so the whole thing was started internally. It then went so far that before we went live with the story, we invited a reference customer, i.e. the QM department, and showed them our KTR standard. And this client had his own documents that we filled out for him. He immediately said that he would like to have our standard in the future, because it was more elaborate and better than what the client himself wanted. That’s a big compliment.

Julia Ures: I can imagine that. Sounds good. Mr. Mithöfer, I think the advantage for the customer has already come out very well and become clear. What does KTR really get out of using this method here?

Carsten Mithöfer: We are convinced that, especially in the production processes, processing has become leaner for the worker. We just heard that at the end there was someone who had to do the Sisyphus work and gather all the documents. Or another example with large couplings: If something has to be measured, after the manufacturing process, the whole coupling had to be removed again, some measurements had to be taken and so on. Today, the worker does everything when he has the component on his workbench anyway. In that moment he can check things and enter them. For us, it is also a step towards the digitalization of all processes. I think this is a big step forward for KTR.

Julia Ures: Mr. Galle, how does the communication work? Is it a one-way street or do you also get feedback from the customer, and can you also have contact with the customer via this?

Karsten Galle: We can’t do that now. There are ideas to expand. This means that the customer benefit is even higher, that the QR code or DataMatrix code is going to be used in other ways. Right now we are talking about how to offer something like this, how to expand it. One idea would be, for example, to store spare parts lists or installation instructions and so on, so that the customer can then access such things with his smartphone. But as I said, we are not there yet. But these are the considerations that we are making at the moment.

Julia Ures: Mr. Mithöfer, what would you like this whole system could also do?

Carsten Mithöfer: Definitely, that the customer can also access this data externally. That no matter which part he scans from us, he can access it directly and see: When did we order it? When was it delivered? When did I put it in? Maybe then, how many hours has it been? This has something to do with maintenance, so he can see, now the component has so many hours already, I might have to change it next year. I think there’s still a lot of potential. Now we have the database in SAP, we have all the data in the system, and I think it’s about just taking it to another level in the long run.

Julia Ures: Do I need your handheld, or does it work with any device I put the app on?

Carsten Mithöfer: It’s an app, so you need the app, you need the operating system behind it. That’s basically an Android phone, like that, a big and stable Android phone. Otherwise, you could download this app on any Android device. At the moment, as I said, it’s more an internal app for us.

Julia Ures: Mr. Galle, another question that reached us. This app, as you have just described, has been developed internally by KTR, which is also a great achievement. Here is the question again explicitly about your thoughts on how you can develop the whole thing further in the future. What can customers expect from KTR in the future?

Karsten Galle: Yes, that’s what I’ve just said, that with this QR code you have more possibilities to find out about this product. For example, the maintenance intervals or as I said spare parts lists, assembly instructions, that’s what we might want to offer via a web service and then via the KTR page. So, unfortunately, we cannot say more precisely at this point. We are now in contact with the app provider.

Julia Ures: Mr Mithöfer, is it imaginable at some point that you will register that a component has a running time of XY hours, so they will soon need the spare part, and that you will then simply send it off?

Carsten Mithöfer: The data is there, so we know what the customer bought, we know when he bought it. Of course, we don’t know how many hours it was used. But then, of course, this is a networking of values, of course, everything is imaginable. I believe that in principle, everything is moving in this direction, that machines, that data are in a network and that you also network together, not just one company, but companies that work with each other. And then, of course, you could do some kind of data exchange, where you say, “We can tell you how many hours the component has on its hump, and then we’ll send you automatic replacement.”

Julia Ures: Now we have talked about a wonderful and very, very practical example, also of digitalization. How tech-savvy, Mr. Galle, are you in your spare time?

Karsten Galle: Oh, actually very much.

Julia Ures: Do you have an example of what you’re using?

Karsten Galle: Besides the normal smartphone applications, motorcycle navigation, on the mobile phone, I don’t know, hiking apps, such stories.

Julia Ures: That means that you really let yourself be in the private sphere…

Karsten Galle: . . . inspire

Julia Ures: . . . supported and inspired.

Karsten Galle: Yes, exactly!

Julia Ures: Mr. Mithöfer, what about you, what do you?

Carsten Mithöfer: Yes, it’s similar with me. I ride a lot of bicycle and you can no longer get by in unknown areas without a mobile device. In the meantime, people have become so accustomed that they rely on it. And that’s good, too.

Julia Ures: And last but not least, mobile devices have of course become one of the main ways you can follow “In Sight KTR”, listen to our podcast and watch the videocast as well. Please continue to do so diligently. We are already looking forward to the next topic. 20 minutes again with experts on fixed topics, but with questions that the two – or sometimes there’s only one interview partner – at least the experts don’t know beforehand. That was also the case today. And I would like to thank you both very much for getting yourself into this. “In Sight KTR” has been dealing with KTR Ident today. Until next time and thank you for your interest! Bye!