Our future is digital - no one, whether private or corporate, can escape this development. As a leading supplier of hoses and connection solutions for technical applications in many high-tech sectors, we not only see important market potential in this, but are ourselves constantly excited about the opportunities that digitalization brings. We addressed the issue at a very early stage and are shaping our transformation process dynamically and fundamentally. In concrete terms, this means that digitization is now one of four pillars of our corporate strategy. There is currently practically no division within the Masterflex Group that is not involved in digital change. At Masterflex Group, digitization is lived out in all departments.
We invested in industrial 4.0-capable production facilities early on. We have been able to significantly increase the transparency of our production processes with a noticeable expansion of data acquisition and a new network. Thanks to the permanent and seamless monitoring of production, we are able to improve the overall quality of the manufacturing process as well as automation and flexibility. For example, several years ago, we began developing the world's first fully networked production line for profile-extruded high-tech polyurethane hoses (spiral hoses) together with a suitably qualified mechanical engineering partner. We commissioned the first line in early 2017, followed by a second line in 2018.
A fully digitalized production plant like the one we have does not exist in this form again. In addition to considerable direct efficiency gains (higher production speeds, etc.), we have always been concerned with opening up new "horizons" in quality, process reliability and further product development. A prerequisite for this is the complete digitalization of all sensors and actuators (drive elements) and their networking. This has been implemented for the first time in such a complex extrusion line. In the meantime, we know that this enables us to take completely new technological and business approaches today, but even more so in the future.
As an innovation leader, we have been decisively advancing digitization in the hose market with appropriately equipped products for years and, earlier than other competitors, have consistently pursued the path towards digitization. Our innovative ability has received several external awards (TOP 100 innovation and world market leaders). This is most visible in our new digitalized smart hoses with intelligent functions. We are the first hose manufacturer ever to launch a complete operating system consisting of hose, sensor technology, engineering and data processing: Under the name AMPIUS® we offer hose systems with integrated lifecycle tracking functions as well as a matching app.
In the meantime, we have already been able to demonstrate the concrete benefits of real-time operating data in customer projects, for example, in monitoring the wear of hoses under abrasive operating conditions. Here we see a lot of additional market potential, especially in the development of new and data-based business models together with our customers.
In 2017, we began implementing a new, cloud-based ERP system. This new system, which is now indispensable for supporting our business processes, has also opened up new opportunities for us to drive processes. One example of this is our entry into workflow automation. Where previously complex workflows were carried out without IT support, we have now implemented standardized workflows. This enables us to achieve greater consistency and accuracy in our workflows. By automating everyday processes, we save time and money.
In conjunction with our newly introduced ERP system, we are using Power BI to further improve our customer orientation. This business analysis service from Microsoft helps us to evaluate and visualize the data stored in ERP systems and other systems regarding customers and sales opportunities. Power BI gives us the ability to quickly and easily create insights and reports and make them available as dashboards. We use these daily updated market and target group insights to better understand the requirements and needs of our customers and to offer them appropriate solutions. Based on data and its evaluation and visualization, we are thus able to further improve our service processes.
Not only the work itself, but also the way of working is changing. We have created suitable rooms, appropriate technology and modern working methods for this new work culture. This also leads to employees being able to work more flexibly / partly in the home office. In addition, our employees travel less because they can use modern conference technology or, for example, chat directly with each other via the employee APP. Since 2017 new agile development methods such as Design Thinking or agile project management have been introduced and successfully applied.
We also rely on digitization in the area of internal communication - with our employee app "MFGconnect", which has been very well received. We are a production company and have asked ourselves: How do we reach those employees who work at the workbench, i.e. without a digital workplace, or at another location? Until now, this has been possible at Masterflex Group almost exclusively via notices on the notice board, the printed employee magazine or e-mails. Now there is an app that reaches all employees directly. MFGconnect - alluding to the company slogan "Connecting Values" - is designed to facilitate processes, promote dialog and strengthen the "we-feeling.
The idea for the app came from the staff, the concept was developed by an internal project team with colleagues from various departments (including colleagues from production). It was programmed by an external start-up for mobile employee communication.
Now employees can decide for themselves when and where they read company news. The app also provides information on guidelines, current projects and locations of the Masterflex Group. Customers can also use the app: They automatically receive the latest company news. At present, the app is only available in a German version. In the future, it is planned that all Masterflex Group employees worldwide will be able to chat with each other via the app in their respective national language.
Our online presence includes the website (as the lynchpin) and Google (for search engine marketing) as well as social media activities on portals such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Xing und YouTube. This includes, for example, news about new products, trade fairs, awards, campaigns („Backen mit der Masterflex Group“) or competitions. The frequency of updating depends on the individual channels.
Founded in 1987 in Herten, Germany, we are now a globally active specialist in the development and manufacture of sophisticated connection and hose systems made of high-performance plastics and fabrics. Around 160 employees work in Gelsenkirchen. We have just invested in the site and offer our employees, many of them from the region, a secure professional future. We also train young people, run for the good cause and donate to the Gelsenkirchener Tafel charity.
The Masterflex Group is the listed specialist for the development and manufacture of sophisticated connector and hose systems made of high-performance plastics and fabrics. Six specialists are united under the umbrella of the Masterflex Group as brands for a wide range of connection requirements: In addition to Masterflex these include Matzen & Timm, Novoplast Schlauchtechnik, Fleima-Plastic, Masterduct with APT. With additional production and sales locations in Europe, America and Asia, the Masterflex Group is represented almost worldwide.