Sustainability Report 2018

Innovation

Why this topic is important to us

The satisfaction of our customers and the quality of our services are largely determined by the effects that our services have on the performance of industrial plants. Thus, our customers expect that the services we perform will integrate the latest technological findings, the most modern standards, and the most up-to-date processes and tools. This particularly applies in view of the dynamic trend towards digitalization that is making itself felt throughout the . Inasmuch, innovations and R&D activities play a key role in keeping us competitive and capable of expanding our market position.

Christina Johansson (quote-portrait)

“Technological change is shaking up the process industry. With our investments in innovative solutions, we provide our customers with a significant competitive advantage to master these challenges successfully”

Christina Johansson, CFO Bilfinger SE

Our concept

It is our operating units, first and foremost, that are responsible for developing innovations and further enhancing our services, processes, and technologies lies primarily with our operating units. They are familiar with the needs of our customers and best understand the specific requirements of the local industry and region.

In 2017, Bilfinger set up a Digitalization & Innovation Lab to respond to the growing importance of the topic of “digitalization” for all our Group companies. To further accelerate the development of digital solutions, this unit was converted into a standalone company, Bilfinger Digital Next, in 2018.

With a workforce of 30 employees as of the end of 2018, Bilfinger Digital Next has the dual mission of supporting our operating units with their digitalization projects while also advising new and existing Bilfinger customers on how to optimize their digital transformation. Another task of the company is to launch newly developed digital solutions on the market. To this end, Bilfinger Digital Next bundles the digitalization competencies of Bilfinger while also promoting the internal exchange of knowledge and developing digital solutions in collaboration with our operative companies and our existing customers. In the process, it also cooperates with technology partners such as Microsoft, Siemens, and Software AG as well as various start-ups and research institutes.

Knowledge is exchanged by way of regular meetings of the digital specialists from the operating units, at open-day events with customers as well as with the operative companies, by sales & marketing training courses, and by workshops, e.g. ones targeting the business-development managers of Group companies and divisions. In 2018, special “accelerators” were appointed for each division, their task being to ensure the rapid dissemination of innovative ideas and best practices throughout the Group. Networking between individual Group companies with similar business models serves to further promote an intensive exchange of know-how and experience while also fostering the development of market-ready solutions.

We can

Mobile gas torches

A flexible solution on wheels
Mobile gas torches (photo)

The mobile gas torch is a full-fledged, high-temperature torch system that can be deployed on short notice. It is used whenever gases have to be burned off safely in the course of maintenance work, but where the customers do not have a stationary torch system of their own. The trailer-mounted mobile torch system can be operated with battery power for hours on end. This extremely mobile and flexible solution was developed by Bilfinger EMS.

How we intend to reach our goals

Our objective is to translate ideas into promising innovations and to thereby continue fulfilling our exacting standards going forward. Inasmuch, we place great value on the innovative capacity of our enterprise and of our employees. Since we see a wealth of opportunities in digitalization and in the market for sustainable industrial services, innovations and R&D activities related to these fields are extremely important to us.

In 2018, we pursued innovation projects entailing total costs of € 12.3 million. Add to this the many innovations and enhancements of our services that have arisen not as part of R&D projects and instead from our continual improvement process and work done as part of a contract.

Table
Research and development expenses

€ million

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018

 

2017

Total expense

 

12.3

 

10.9

thereof digitalization

 

8.5

 

6.5

thereof industry

 

3.5

 

3.8

thereof energy and environment

 

0.3

 

0.6

Chart
Research and development expenses
Research and development expenses (pie chart (switch))

In 2018, the activities of Bilfinger Digital Next focused on the further refinement of (Bilfinger Connected Asset Performance). This wide-ranging digitalization solution for the is based on a digital platform that compiles data from a variety of different sources. These include the realms of engineering, production, maintenance, and ongoing operations, for example, as well external sources of information. The data compiled in this way can make it significantly easier, for example, to plan maintenance workflows and to implement them into concrete solutions for predictive maintenance. This in turn allows us to significantly enhance the productivity, availability, and flexibility of industrial plants while concomitantly lowering their maintenance, materials, and energy costs.

The practical viability of the concept already has been successfully tested in various pilot projects. In the course of the reporting year, the solution was readied for market and is now being deployed by several of our customers. Notable new products developed in 2018 were Industrial Tube and PIDGraph.

The fact that we generally work closely together with our customers, over the long-term and on an equal footing, gives us a unique selling point in the field of digitalization for the process industry: We consistently develop our digital solutions in coordination with our customers and can thoroughly test and adapt the functions and benefits of our innovations over the course of the entire development process. This means it takes comparatively little time for our innovations to culminate in compelling solutions – many of which have already proven their worth in practice.

We can

Industrial Tube

Videotaped instructions by experts for experts
Industrial Tube (photo)

Bilfinger’s Industrial Tube is an internet-based video platform intended for the industrial sector. It offers technicians a searchable database of videos that contain easy-to-follow visualizations of industrial tasks and their individual workflows. All it takes to create an instructional video is a smartphone or a pair of smartglasses, along with the Industrial Tube App. The Industrial Tube app provides integrated templates that the technician can use as a “film script” to create an appropriate instructional video. The app allows the technician to record a running commentary on the individual work steps as they are being carried out. It then transfers the video material into Industrial Tube’s computing cloud, where it is automatically assembled into a finished video via a standardized release process. Using Artificial Intelligence, the system will also create subtitles in various languages as well as keywords that will make the video easy to find and share on Industrial Tube’s web portal. Though originally intended for the process industry, the solution can also be applied as a knowledge-management tool in other sectors.

We can

PIDGraph

Automated digitalization of analog plant-related documentation
PIDGraph (photo)

PIDGraph is a software that uses Artificial Intelligence to automatically digitalize the pipeline and instrumentation flow charts of industrial plants. PIDGraph first imports the diagram (e.g. as an image file) and breaks it down into so-called “nodes” and “edges.” Neural networks trained to recognize patterns then identify the symbols used and convert the objects, tags, and tables automatically into XML files in line with the DEXPI standard. PIDGraph will also remember corrections made by the user and can adapt its recognition function accordingly, thereby quickly minimizing any errors. Thus, PIDGraph allows key technical documentation for plants in the process industry to be automatically and conveniently digitalized with significant cost savings.

Video: PIDGraph
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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BCAP®
Integrated concept from Bilfinger for the digitalization of the process industry (Bilfinger Connected Asset Performance)
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Process industry
Industrial sector in which substances and materials in the chemical, physical, biological or other technical processes and procedures are manufactured
View Glossary
BCAP®
Integrated concept from Bilfinger for the digitalization of the process industry (Bilfinger Connected Asset Performance)
View Glossary