Sustainability Report 2017

Innovations

Why this topic is important to us

To a large extent, the satisfaction of our customers and the quality of our services determine the effects our services have on the performance of industrial plants. Our customers therefore expect that we take into account the newest technological insights, the most modern standards and the most current procedures and instruments when providing our services. Innovation as well as research and development activities therefore make an important contribution to our competitiveness and to the expansion of our market position.

The concept we pursue

The development of innovations and the further development of our services is the primary task of our operating units. They are very familiar with the needs of our customers and best understand the specific features of the industry and region. For this reason, they are responsible for developing new services, initiating research activities and driving forward existing processes and technologies.

In recent years, the topic of “digitalization” has taken on significant importance at all of our Group companies. For this reason, Bilfinger created the Digitalization & Innovation Lab in spring 2017. This unit, which is active throughout the Group, has been tasked with bundling Bilfinger’s digitalization competences, promoting the internal exchange of knowledge and developing new digital solutions for both the Engineering & Technologies and Maintenance, Modifications & Operations business segments. The tasks of the Digitalization & Innovation Lab also include collaboration with start-ups or research institutes.

Regular meetings with digital experts, open day events, sales training and workshops ensure an exchange of knowledge, for example, for the Business Development Manager of the Group companies. Furthermore, accelerators will be named for each division in 2018 whose task will be to ensure a rapid distribution of innovative ideas and best practices within the Group. Networking between individual Group companies with similar business models also ensures an intensive exchange of experience and expertise.

How we want to achieve our goals

Our aim is to translate ideas into promising innovations that will allow us to meet our exacting standards also in the future. For this reason, we place great store in the innovative drive of our company and our employees. Because we see a great amount of potential in digitalization and in the market for sustainable industrial services, innovations and R&D activities related to these areas are extremely important to us.

In 2017, our Group companies spent around €11 million on research and development activities. This includes numerous innovations and further developments to our services, resulting not from R&D projects, but rather as part of ongoing improvements.

Table
Investments in R&D projects

Innovation areas

 

Share of R&D expenses 2017

Digitalization

 

60%

Industry

 

35%

Energy

 

4%

Environment

 

1%

Chart
Investments in R&D projects
Investments in R&D projects (pie chart (switch))

The development of BCAP (Bilfinger Connected Asset Performance) was the focus of the Digitalization & Innovation Lab’s activities in 2017. This comprehensive and innovative digitalization concept for the is based on a digital platform that both stores and evaluates engineering and maintenance data as well as parameters for plant operation and external data. By using this concept, productivity, availability and flexibility at industrial plants can be significantly increased while at the same time decreasing maintenance, material and energy costs.

In order to test the feasibility of the concept, various pilot projects were started. Moreover, we expanded our partnerships with platform providers and research institutes.

Digitalization provides new impulses for demand in the area of maintenance. By expanding on sensor technologies and digital diagnostics, new possibilities increasingly arise for forward-looking maintenance concepts that decrease downtimes and allow for easier planning. Currently, the proportion of diagnostic and inspection services in relation to total sales is increasing in favor of “predictive maintenance”. Consulting is also growing in significance: Industrial service providers act increasingly as consultants for new maintenance concepts.

Pioneering pilot project

Digital plant twin

In cooperation with Münzing Chemie, Bilfinger started a pioneering digitalization project in 2017. The goal is the creation of a digital plant twin which can help to substantially increase the efficiency and availability of industrial plants. All relevant engineering, maintenance, production, environmental and energy data from the plant is collected and transferred to a digital platform. In just a few clicks, it will be possible in future to access details on individual processes, conduct various analyses and gather information for the optimized management and maintenance of the plant.

Digital plant twin (photo)

How we counter risks

Sooner or later, a lack of impetus in the area of innovation among Group companies will lead to adverse effects on customer satisfaction and, at the same time, to a lower level of performance and efficiency at their plants. In order to counter this risk, we constantly engage in dialogue with our customers regarding the quality of our services and their needs, analyze new technological developments, seek out cooperation with research institutes, consider our employees’ ability to innovate and ensure an intensive exchange of knowledge between the operating units.

Process industry
Industrial sector in which substances and materials in the chemical, physical, biological or other technical processes and procedures are manufactured
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