The raw materials for a digital future

The raw ma-
terials for a
digital future

Haniel and its divisions seek to systematically advance digital ideas and bring them to market with “Schacht One”.

The digital transformation means that the global economy is currently undergoing a fourth industrial revolution. Companies which fail to adapt their products and services – ultimately their entire business model – to meet the new challenges will not be viable in the long run. This is the general consensus. By contrast, it is much more difficult to answer this question: how can companies digitally transform their business – concretely and specifically? And in a manner which suits the company? For Haniel, the answer was not obvious. The divisions have already examined the issues surrounding digitalisation in great detail and scored initial successes – for instance, by changing their processes or leveraging new technologies in offering customer services. “However, on the whole, the impression was that we were following conventional approaches to tackle the issue of digitalisation. Moreover, the typical rapid testing and implementation phases for digitalisation are not yet anchored in our corporate DNA firmly enough”, said Dirk Müller, CIO at Haniel, and responsible for digitalisation.

New perspectives

At the 2015 Group Conference, Haniel executives discovered the opportunities arising in connection with the digital transformation.

New approaches sought after

The issue of digitalisation really began to gain traction at the 2015 Haniel management conference – as well as in the workshops leading up to the conference. These offered colleagues from different departments, hierarchy levels and divisions the opportunity to gather around the table and work together on digital issues and ideas. They relied on the method of design thinking, which places user needs and requirements ahead of technical feasibility. Within ten weeks, they were able to develop tangible and specific implementation options which were then presented at the management conference – giving rise to a true entrepreneurial atmosphere. After this, the answer as to how Haniel can tackle the challenges of digitalisation was obvious: “Just as with the workshops, we need a protective space away from the day-to-day business and organisational routines in which we can work on implementing specific ideas”, said Müller. And that with new methods and, where it makes sense, also at an interdisciplinary level – because collaboration between the different divisions proved to be extremely valuable.

A starting point in the past

A home for this project was found quickly: the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex. Only a few metres away from Schacht One, where 165 years ago Franz Haniel, the namesake of our Company and a pioneer of the Ruhr industrial area, first mined the coveted bituminous coal which fuelled the industrial revolution. In “Schacht One”, our new digital initiative, Haniel will work with the divisions Bekaert Textiles, CWS-boco, ELG and TAKKT to mine the raw material for the fourth industrial revolution: digital ideas. “We will begin by focusing on quantity, as we are interested in developing, evaluating, sorting – and of course also in failing”, said Müller. Ultimately, the Company hopes to succeed in rapidly developing and implementing solutions for market- ready products, services and processes – particularly for specific businesses. “We see ourselves as a digital workbench. We are not trying to bring about a technical revolution; we aim to support the divisions with competencies, methods and the leeway to further advance their business with digital solutions.”

CIO Dirk Müller

“We see ourselves as a digital workbench.”

Flexible partnership

A vital key to the success of Schacht One is our collaboration with a variety of partners. Primarily, it is Haniel and the divisions which will cooperate closely – independent of hierarchies and other corporate structures. They will be aided by experts in the field of science and digital economy, who can be engaged on flexible terms. “Schacht One represents a completely new approach for Haniel; this is a test. However, we are confident that it will be a success in the long run”, said Müller. “Not least because courage is a defining feature at Haniel and has already been rewarded often in the past.”

“As a family-equity company, we consider it our duty to increase the value of the Company for the long term. In that spirit, we analyse the central mega-trends and support our divisions in seizing opportunities which arise from our business model. With Schacht One as a digital workbench for new ideas, this will be exceptionally successful. This shows once again how the Haniel Holding Company contributes to the business success of its investments as a value developer.”

Stephan Gemkow
CEO of Franz Haniel & Cie. GmbH

“We at TAKKT see the trend towards digitalisation as a great opportunity for our business. We have already gained excellent experience around the world with initial digital projects. We now want to accelerate the digital transformation and are giving this process absolute priority in our current plans and decisions. The founding of Schacht One represents a key driver and collaboration will play a vital role in building up additional and professional digital competence for all Group companies.”

Dr. Felix Zimmermann

“We welcome Haniel’s commitment to offering a shared platform with Schacht One for the Group-wide collaboration in the area of digitalisation. As one of the market leaders in our industry, it is essential for us to advance digitalisation in order to optimise processes and offer our customers services which are viable for the future. One example of this is the CWS Washroom Information Service (WIS) which connects all washroom dispensers within a building and makes it possible to communicate their current fill level to the maintenance personnel or building management. A formerly passive product such as the towel dispenser now actively collects data and supplies information which can be used for efficient building management. With our chips in boco workwear, moreover, we are able to monitor individual articles of clothing in our laundries and thus optimise our processes.”

Maximilian Teichner
CEO of CWS-boco

Together for the digital

Dirk Vandeplancke
CEO of Bekaert Textiles

“Digitalisation offers us great opportunities for raising our product offering up to a new level. Bekaert Imagine, a 3D visualising tool for mattress cover materials, enables us to de-materialise our initial product development and design phase: instead of manufacturing and transporting material samples and mattress prototypes, we now work with our customers to prepare compelling virtual products. Imagine is the perfect example of how the digital transformation can help to reduce costs and protect the environment in equal measure. Imagine has the potential to establish itself as a key component in the development process of our customers. Bekaert Textiles is pleased to be a part of Schacht One and to share its own expertise with others and to be able to learn from experts.”

“The digital transformation opens up the possibilities for changing business models at all levels. At ELG, we are still analysing the potential for digitalisation in the recycling of stainless steel. For example, in the area of superalloys there are opportunities for digitalising the supply chain: digital solutions can significantly raise the level of efficiency and transparency in complex supply chains. In addition, there are possibilities for completely new business models. We will systematically analyse this potential and seize digitalisation opportunities early on: taken with the right approach, the digital transformation will make profitable growth possible for ELG. We expect our collaboration in Schacht One to result in access to digital know-how and enable us to implement our digital initiatives quickly and efficiently.”

Detlef Drafz