Julia Edele

Revolutionizing the Audio World—A Conversation with HEDD Founder, Klaus Heinz

For the past forty years, Klaus Heinz (founder of HEDD and ADAM Audio) has dedicated himself to developing loudspeakers that have become established constants in diverse fields: from music production to professional mastering and finally home HiFi. As both an acoustic professional and a lifelong music enthusiast, Heinz’s life has oscillated between the worlds of physics and sound.

Klaus Heinz

Revolutionizing the world of audio

Heinz revolutionized the professional world of audio production with the introduction of its first Air Motion Transformer. “99% of speakers use a normal cone or dome where you produce the high frequencies,” explained Heinz. “But I met a German physicist, Dr. Oskar Heil, who came up with a speaker using folds that open and close instead of a disk-like action. So I developed a loudspeaker using this AMT technology.” 

Today, AMT systems are used wherever an extremely precise and vivid reproduction of high frequency material is called for.

“HEDDphone” from HEDD

Rühl went to the Silicon Valley for inspiration and learned how platforms work. Shortly after, Klöckner began its transformation to become a platform company. “Platform companies typically have low variable costs, because many of their processes are completely automated,” explained Rühl. “With low variable costs, you can have much stronger growth than a traditional company with high fixed and variable costs.” He used Facebook as an example of a business with practically no incremental costs at all—when 1,000 new users join, the company doesn’t have to invest anything.

Entering the headphone market: a big learning experience

Over the years, Heinz noticed that the market for high-end headphones was growing. “Ten years ago, if you wanted to buy high-quality headphones for around €1,000, there were two or three options. Now there are 30 or 40 options on the market,” said Heinz. He wondered if the same AMT technology could also be applied to headphones, using different geometries. 

“Our first approach was awful and needed to be corrected,” said Heinz. So he came up with a new idea using different geometries to linearize the frequency response. “This was a big learning curve for us in understanding how different it is to introduce this technology to the headphones market, but the reviews we got from customers were enough to make the whole thing a success story.”       Heinz’s speaker designs have always stayed true to their ideal of sonic excellence—producing complete accuracy and outstanding signal fidelity. HEDDphones® are now widely used by producers, sound engineers, and high-end enthusiasts.

The future of loudspeakers

Today, Apple and Google are the largest manufacturers of speakers in the world. At a time when customers seem increasingly happy with music coming out of their mobile phones or cheap headphones, what is the future of loudspeakers?

“It is a bit of a tragic situation,” said Heinz. “But the numbers for loudspeakers are higher each and every year. The market is there. It’s not rising dramatically, but it remains a good market.” He admits that the demand for in-ear headphones and low-quality speakers continues to rise more rapidly. 

But the good news is, this means companies like Apple and Google are putting a lot of energy into making these more affordable options sound good as well. Innovation and technology is continuing to advance. 

Brands like Bose and Sonos are creating technologies that allow users to stream music to different rooms, using a management platform. “The sound is not bad either,” admits Heinz. “For the volume, I am astounded at what they can do. No question.” So it seems there are still opportunities in the speaker market, but the sounds experiences are beginning to look different, and high-end loudspeakers for classical music enthusiasts have become a niche market.

Product development is not without challenges

As with any product, development and manufacturing hasn’t been without its challenges for Heinz and HEDD. Early on in the development of the tweeter in their loudspeaker, Heinz had expectations for how the responses should look, but the responses they were seeing were terrible. 

“I tried everything,” said Heinz. “Finally we had an idea to rebuild the prototype and glue every piece so that it was air-tight.” This turned out to be the big leap that made the whole speaker design work—air holes smaller than one millimeter spoiled the speaker’s performance to a surprising degree. “The air-tightness was enough to either send the design down the river or to make a good new speaker,” said Heinz. “I’m still amazed by this.”

In the beginning of 2018, HEDD brought on KREATIZE (then fabrikado) to help them plan and develop their new headphones using the same AMT technology. HEDD and KREATIZE worked together through the entire product development process to define the requirements for the prototype, test several manufacturing partners, review samples of product materials, and finally arrive at an ideal solution for high-volume production. 

Advice for young engineers and product designers

Heinz offered a few words of advice for new, young engineers who have product ideas and want to help make our lives better, more fulfilling, or more fun. 

“Don’t be overly enthusiastic about your own ideas,” he cautions. “Always ask yourself—what is the advantage for the customer?” This customer-centric mindset has served Heinz well throughout his career. 

But on the other hand, he also cautions engineers to not be their own self-critics. “Don’t fool yourself when you’re doing R&D. If you have a new prototype and you think it sounds great, don’t go back into the lab the next day and question everything. Keep cool with yourself so your own self-doubt doesn’t endanger your designs,” said Heinz

Start now by making an appointment with one of our cloud manufacturing specialists today

Gisbert Rühl: Leading digital transformation at a century old German steel distributor

As CEO of Klöckner & Co, one of the largest independent steel and metal distributors worldwide, Gisbert Rühl is no stranger to industry disruption. Rühl has spent much of his career at Klöckner focused on taking the company into the future in the face of global changes in the metals industry. In 2014, he spearheaded the company’s digital transformation to prepare for a future of increased automation and online platform sales.

Changes in the steel market inspire Klöckner’s transformation

Rühl first joined Klöckner as CFO in 2005 to help bring the company public. Up until 2008, the steel market remained strong, with increasing demand in China driving up steel prices. After the financial crisis in 2008, however, prices and demand for steel started to decrease rapidly. 

“In this market, we weren’t able to create an effective competitive advantage, and we remained a low-margin business. This is when we knew we had to do something different,” said Rühl.  

Rühl went to the Silicon Valley for inspiration and learned how platforms work. Shortly after, Klöckner began its transformation to become a platform company. “Platform companies typically have low variable costs, because many of their processes are completely automated,” explained Rühl. “With low variable costs, you can have much stronger growth than a traditional company with high fixed and variable costs.” He used Facebook as an example of a business with practically no incremental costs at all—when 1,000 new users join, the company doesn’t have to invest anything.

A new way of working   

For Klöckner to become a platform company with physical assets, this meant automating their core processes (mainly sales and purchasing). This was more difficult than Rühl first expected, because it required a significant cultural change within the company to become more agile and embrace a new way of working where failure is not only allowed, but it is part of the process. 

Klöckner implemented an internal social network using Microsoft Yammer that is now used extensively. “Without Yammer this transformation wouldn’t have been possible,” said Rühl. “It’s a hierarchy-free communication tool, so I have the opportunity to communicate with everyone in the company, and the other way around. We have a completely different kind of communication culture within Klöckner now.”  

The company also initiated a digital academy, offering courses to employees during working hours to help incrementally increase the digital IQ of the company. “It’s not really one big thing,” Rühl explained. “It’s a lot of minor steps and to be honest there’s no blueprint, because not many companies have really transformed themselves in this way.”  

Gisbert Rühl

Another step in the company’s digitization was founding kloeckner.i in 2014. Since then, 90 experts in software development, data analytics, online marketing, and UX design have been working on cross-functional teams to digitize the supply chain from procurement to delivery. The vision here: 

A digitized steel and metal industry in which all market partners interact efficiently.

Introducing XOM—a new digital venture

In addition to the digitalization of Klöckner, Rühl also made the controversial decision to create a new digital venture, XOM Materials, as a purely virtual platform for buyers and sellers of materials. “We launched XOM separately because it turns out it is rather difficult to really disrupt yourself,” said Rühl. “As an incumbent, you always spend the money where you earn the money, and when you earn the money with certain products, it’s really difficult to invest in something that could disrupt your core business.”   

XOM was launched as an independent business, and competes with Klöckner on the digital side. “XOM is allowed to cannibalize our core business,” explained Rühl. “There are no rules, we are competing.” 

Interestingly, XOM and KREATIZE are both part of the same value chain to a certain extent. Both companies offer very similar platform solutions, XOM for buying and selling metal and steel products, and KREATIZE for ordering and producing custom parts. 

Developing a customer-centric approach

Throughout the process of digitizing and automating, Rühl and Klöckner found that one of the reasons startups are so much faster at developing something is that they are more customer-centric than traditional companies. Rühl explained: “A customer-centric approach means that you work with the customer to find out what they really need. You’re not immediately developing the product itself, you’re starting with an MVP with limited functionality. Then you go back to the customer to find out what works and refine it. The advantage is that you are faster in the end, and the product/market fit is much higher.”

Rühl compares a Tesla to a traditional car, for example. “A Tesla is an intuitive, customer-designed product that doesn’t really require a manual,” said Rühl. “If you know how an ipad works, you know how a tesla works.” On the other hand, traditional cars may have 40 or 50 unique switches and the design is engineering and performance-driven, not customer-driven.

2020 accelerates Klöckner’s change

Despite all their efforts to digitize Klöckner’s business, the materials market has resisted digital transformation, making the process longer, harder, and more expensive than Rühl expected. At the start of 2020, Rühl and his teams were focused on how they could dramatically increase uptake. And then in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, all their efforts to rethink their sales, operations, people practices and organizational structure started to pay off.

“This was not my first crisis,” said Rühl. “What I’ve learned through the years is that crises are a good opportunity to accelerate change, because you can spend more money on restructuring during a crisis.” Within two weeks of the beginning of the pandemic, Klöckner began reducing their workforce by 15% and made all of their layoffs within a few months. The impact on its business was minimized by the improvements and digital transformation they’d accomplished over the last several years. 

“Next year we’ll be saving nearly €100M due to the automation,” Rühl said. “It took 6 years, and the journey was not easy. But in the end, the benefits are kicking in faster and faster.”  

From the beginning Rühl believed digital transformation was the right way to go. “When you see all the developments in virtual reality, robotics, artificial intelligence, it’s clear that no one is going to order steel with a fax machine anymore,” said Rühl. “We had to pivot here and there, but my belief in digital transformation never changed—it needed to happen.” 

What’s next for Rühl 

As of the close of the Annual General Meeting in May 2021, Rühl will leave Klöckner & Co to concentrate on entrepreneurial activities in the field of B2B platforms and VC funds. In connection with the planned separation of the digital platform XOM Materials from Klöckner, he will take over the position as Chairman of XOM.

Start now by creating your account for KREATIZE Manufacturing Services or by making an appointment with one of our cloud manufacturing specialists today

Recap of Launchpad Austria

Launchpad Austria was a passionate exchange about how hardware companies can accelerate innovation and drive growth

We were thrilled to be joined by innovative founders, successful entrepreneurs, and strong founder supporters from 16 countries at Launchpad Austria on April 13th

Headlined with a discussion around “How hardware companies can accelerate innovation and bring growth to Austria post-corona”, our speakers discussed mistakes, learnings, challenges and opportunities in the post-Corona era. We heard from both established global companies and startups who shared their take on this universal topic, with a specific focus on Austria.

HENN’s CEO Talks Transformation

Martin Ohneberg, CEO of HENN kicked things off by reporting on his company’s transformation from primarily servicing the automotive sector to a more broadly based product range: “At HENN, we don’t just want to stay only in the automotive sector in the future, we want to become a leader in smart couplings – in different materials, together with the right process. This is our USP. In order to be successful in the future, we must remain successful in the automotive sector, but also in other areas,” said Ohneberg. However, such a change does not happen by itself, In addition to the right team with innovative minds, the partners are also crucial: “We also work with new partners – KREATIZE, for example, is flexible, especially in the prototyping area. We have to be open to such new solutions, because they act quickly and in line with the times. You have to be faster than the others. We can’t wait too long if we want to remain successful in the future.“

You can watch the whole kick-off again here:  

Challenges & Opportunities in Hardware Product Development

“Software is different from hardware: Being fast in hardware means months of development,”

said Philipp Sonnleitner,   Co-founder & CIO of mikme. Speed, new approaches, and agility—that’s what startups stand for. But founding a hardware startup does not always go smoothly and there are often many constraints. We asked two successful founders to tell us about their learnings, mistakes, challenges, and opportunities: Nils Berger, CEO and Owner of Viewpointsystem and Philipp Sonnleitner, Co-founder & CIO of mikme.

Embrace failure

Nils Berger’s advice: “Embrace failure”.

What exactly does this mean for him and his team? 

Don’t just think about it, just do it. Even if you get a bloody nose – without trying, it won’t work. Without mistakes, you won’t get anywhere. Innovation means: Mistakes are always an option – keep it close and make it your friend.” 

And although this is always easier said than done, Nils Berger makes it clear that he wouldn’t get far on his own either: The right people and good communication are important! “Always think about, how you talk to people and how do you hold them? You can’t avoid legacy thinking even in a start-up area. People bring their own legacy, because everyone has a different background. Take the good from this and try to transform the not-so-good through communication with a positive culture with a purpose.”

Nils Berger’s Expertstalk with our CCO Thomas Hoffmeister is available here:

Hardware is hard

Now that you have the right team around you, have you instilled a culture and a sense of purpose? Are ready to get started? It’s important to note that hardware developers face  some challenges, but also have many unique opportunities. With 8 years of experience in founding hardware startups, Philipp Sonnleitner had a lot to share regarding this matter.

This already begins during development: Software is different from hardware – being fast in hardware means months of developments. We launched our new product, mikme pocket, in 9 months – that’s relatively fast”,  said Sonnleitner. “However, the positive thing about hardware development is you can touch the product. And People still love to touch things.” 

Since it is a well-known fact that you learn the most from your mistakes, we asked Philipp about his biggest mistake since founding his company: “When we did our first mobile product, battery charging was the biggest mistake we made: We underestimated that process. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that until we produced our first margin. It was tough and costly. Take it one step at a time. We were so deep in product, quality, in sound, etc. But we didn’t pay enough attention to the battery. “

Philipp was also interviewed by Thomas – watch the whole session here:

Exchange and networking with supporters and founders

The founding of a hardware startup is thus more time-consuming, more strenuous and in many cases more cost-intensive than for virtual software products. But there are many supporters who are ready to stand up for young, innovative founders and ideas. Some of Austria’s most successful and active hardware supporters joined our panel to discuss the possibilities and limitations of different support models, as well as to share their views on the current business climate together with Philipp Sonnleitner. The very special closing of our event was our “beers with peers session”, in which very interesting and lively discussions took place. 

Click here for the full panel discussion:

We’re not done yet! There are more Launchpads to come this year.

The lively exchange during the event and the feedback we received after, proved to us yet again that there is a real demand for such events. We would like to continue to network with  innovators and thought leaders in the manufacturing sector! Stay tuned for more details on our next event in the future!

If you too are interested in the manufacturing of tomorrow, we recommend you see the presentation by our CEO Simon Tüchelmann:

 

Want to stay up to date with content on cloud manufacturing and hardware innovation? Then sign up for our newsletter: Cloud Manufactured.

success, strategy, business

How to migrate your manufacturing process to the cloud

 

Cloud services are transforming virtually every facet of modern manufacturing. Whether you like it or not, the future of manufacturing is cloud manufacturing, and it’s looking bright! From lowering the cost of production to accelerating innovation, the benefits of cloud services in manufacturing are endless.

Whether you’re a traditional company or high-tech startup, cloud manufacturing offers many strategic advantages for organizations. From the start, a cloud manufacturing platform eliminates the costly and time-consuming processes of selecting the right manufacturing partners, obtaining attractive offers, quality assuring new partners and handling all production logistics. The time and resources saved can fuel innovation and be spent developing products that will make the world better.

cloud computing, internet, technology-3385323.jpg

But how do you make this move to the cloud? We know that moving all of your manufacturing demand to the cloud may feel daunting, and you may not know where to begin. But we’re here to walk you through it! We’ll show you how to make the transition as seamless as possible in just five simple steps. And we’ll share some examples of companies who did it successfully with great results.

Experts predict that 80 percent of companies will have closed their traditional data centers by 2025. Everything is moving in this direction, for good reason! 

Here’s why cloud services are the right solution to drive growth and remain competitive today.

The impact of cloud manufacturing: 

  • Significant cost savings—you only pay for what you use, without a large capital investment.  
  • Access to the best manufacturing capacities worldwide
  • Improved technical support and consulting from cloud service providers. 
  • Ease of use—the cloud does not require implementation or adjustments of the internal data infrastructure.

KREATIZE Manufacturing Cloud—the optimal solution 

Our KREATIZE Manufacturing Cloud gives customers access to production capacities without additional investments. It is as if you owned an expensive machine park without having to buy all the equipment and build it from the ground up. The acquisition of expensive manufacturing systems and lengthy inquiry and quotation processes are a thing of the past thanks to KREATIZE.

Here’s how to migrate your processes to the cloud in five simple steps with the help of our Manufacturing Experts:  

1. Analysis & Discovery:

To start, we get to know each other and define your current needs and challenges. We will analyze all your parts and requirements in a joint workshop where we will identify opportunities and areas where KREATIZE can help optimize your product development process.

2. Roadmap Definition & Proof of Concept:

The next step is to define our specific use cases and determine a roadmap for how we will proceed. We always start with concrete and actionable use cases that will add immediate value for your business. Most importantly, we will define measurable goals to be achieved through your collaboration with KREATIZE. 

3. Activate KMS & Initial Testing:

Your team will receive access to the KREATIZE Manufacturing Cloud, where you will upload your parts, together with one of our experts. With just a few clicks, you can now optimize each component, adjust the quantity, the material and the further processing and place an initial test order. 

4. Begin Production:

KREATIZE will find the right manufacturing capacities for your specific part, process and material. In order to make everything as easy and convenient as possible for you, KREATIZE is your only contact during the entire production process. We guarantee that your custom parts meet all of your requirements and take care of the logistics. This means that you do not need to deal with suppliers or quality issues as we work hard to reduce the workload for you to a minimum.  

5. Increase Project Scope + Long-term Partnership:

We work in close contact with each supplier and will be in constant communication with you to ensure maximum customer satisfaction. Over time, we can work together to increase the component complexity, introduce new projects, and explore strategies for our longer-term partnership. 

See it in practice! Here are three companies who made the transition to the cloud and the business results they have achieved.

Example 1: International company meets global sourcing partner

Company at a glance

  • International manufacturer of assembly tools for the furniture industry.
  • Sales = EUR 2 billion
  • Employees = approx. 10,000 
  • Procurement volume = approx. EUR 50 million

The challenge:

Cumbersome, expensive and time-consuming purchasing of special parts due to local procurement and central procurement system. In order to remain successful internationally, they needed to:

  • Optimize their procurement process to be less resource intensive
  • Enable their teams to be more agile in the design and development process 
  • Reduce local dependencies with a broader supply network 

Our solution:

KREATIZE was brought on as their global sourcing partner to automate their procurement processes. As a result, collaboration between procurement, engineering and production planning was increased and improved. 

Additionally, the company gained: 

  • Access to an global manufacturing network
  • A single source for managing their entire supply-chain (including: manufacturing, post-processes, shipping, warehousing and payments)
  • Expertise in scaling

Results:

With our approach, this company saved 10% in unit costs by securing more attractive hourly rates through an expanded global supplier network (via KREATIZE).  

Example 2: Agile product development reduces procurement bottlenecks

Company at a glance

  • Provider of weighing, cutting and weigh-price labeling technologies for the food industry
  • Sales = EUR 700 million
  • Employees = 5,000  
  • Procurement volume = EUR 25 million

The challenge:

Lengthy time-to-market due to long-standing, rigid internal processes and inefficient iteration loops. As a result, the company was facing: 

  • High project costs—up to 30% due to purchasing
  • Lack of systematic approach to control product development and manufacturing costs (could be reduced by up to 70%)
  • Procurement bottlenecks put workflow up to 5 days behind schedule

Our Solution:

We recommended adjustments to the development process to make maximum use of valuable time. The more agile processes recommended will have a lasting positive impact on the price and design of the product. Additionally, KREATIZE helped them achieve: 

  • Reduction in headcount due to decrease in purchasing resources needed
  • Design-to-cost techniques immediately implemented in engineering
  • Scaling for series production with optimized cost through machine hourly rates
  • Elimination of the RFQ process

Results:

This company achieved a 25% reduction in time-to-market with KREATIZE.

Example 3: One-stop shop manages entire purchasing process

Company at a glance

  • High-tech startup
  • Sales = EUR 3m
  • Employees = 50  
  • Procurement volume = EUR 500k

The challenge

As you can imagine, the challenges are different for a company of this size. For this company, challenges included: 

  • No existing supplier network 
  • Successful growth heavily reliant on seamless scaling of production
  • Viability of the product concept depends on agility and rapid response times 

Our Solution:

KREATIZE provided a one-stop solution for handling this company’s entire purchasing process, allowing them to: 

  • Manage and expand their production technologies
  • Receive the highest level of expertise in ramp-up
  • Ensure reliable procurement via KREATIZE cloud manufacturing service
  • Benefit from expertise and advice on product development from our experts

Results:

With KREATIZE this company saved 80% in its total cost of procurement.

We are proud to say that our offer has been well received by businesses of all sizes and we work hard to offer each customer the right solution. Get your account for the KREATIZE Manufacturing Services today

If you would like to learn more about the KREATIZE Manufacturing Cloud, our experts will be happy to speak with you. The best thing to do is to make an appointment with them today: Book a meeting with our Cloud Manufacturing Specialists.

drill, milling, milling machine

Goodbye Request-for-Quote

Hourly model cloud manufacturing offers a sustainable and accessible model for innovators of all sizes.

Production Plant

The hourly manufacturing model replaces the traditional request for quote process, giving businesses more resources to focus on their product. Instead of requesting a quote and negotiating every time you need manufacturing services, the hourly model provides a transparent hourly cost. This new paradigm in manufacturing services is part of the shift towards cloud manufacturing that uses data-driven decisions and resource management to radically improve the delivery of parts and components.

Introduction to cloud manufacturing

Cloud manufacturing, also referred to as CMfg or CM, transforms manufacturing resources and capabilities into manufacturing services based on a cloud platform. As manufacturing becomes more complex and integrated, cloud manufacturing offers a more sustainable and robust supply chain based on intelligent decision making and accurate resource management.

The hourly model of manufacturing

The hourly model for manufacturing services that we use at KREATIZE provides enormous benefits to both our customers and our preferred manufacturing service providers. It works like this; you place your order for manufacturing services via our online platform, Kreatize Manufacturing Services (KMS). Our cloud-based platform uses a proprietary AI-based software to analyze your request and find the best manufacturing solution for you. The hourly rate for the services you require is then negotiated based on expected future demand, process type, and complexity. The initial order is completed by manufacturers from our network of select manufacturing service providers around the world and delivered to you. Future orders using the same manufacturing process are submitted via KMS at the same negotiated price. The never-ending request-for-quote cycle is dead.

The hourly model procurement flow

Towards automation

The hourly model moves your procurement process closer to being fully automated, or at least to a level that removes the effort of constant negotiation, fact-checking, and discussion associated with traditional procurement processes. Once the hourly rate is negotiated, future orders are quickly placed, enabling shorter process time, lower transaction costs, and faster delivery times. This process is sped up by storing and managing technical drawings and CAD files in our KMS platform where the parts are ordered. This enables multiple manufacturers to access the same product files without emailing or updating.

KREATIZE Manufacturing Services

Robust Financial planning

Understanding manufacturing as hourly costs rather than whole job pricing provides financial stability to engage in innovation. The exact price of testing new materials or services can be understood and planned into future budgets. 

At a higher level, cloud manufacturing offers manufacturing without investment. Often when a company reaches a certain size, they will invest in their own manufacturing facilities to bring their procurement and service under control. Cloud manufacturing supports scalability through the arbitrage effect from a large network, utilization of individual capacity, and using global resources. This enables even large businesses to enjoy the safety of streamlined manufacturing without the massive investment.

Total transparency

Our cloud manufacturing platform analyzes and calculates process times for manufacturing services and shares this information with you so that the cost of production is absolutely transparent; this also reveals the true cost of complex projects. Figure 1 shows the overall setup and process time of a project with diverse custom parts.

KMS Analysis

Drives innovation and sustainability

Price transparency and low resource procurement mean design and development companies of any size can test ideas, knowing exactly how much it costs and how long it takes. The most significant benefit of cloud manufacturing is highly detailed resource management. The different physical and virtual resources on offer from suppliers can be dynamically assigned and reassigned according to user demand—no gaps in production, no additional fees added to compensate for slower periods, etc. Manufacturers can extract jobs from the pool of demand, while customers’ needs are distributed throughout a network instead of being placed in a line. 

This opens the possibility of innovation to both customers and providers. When resource management is done with a view to abundance, not scarcity, it provides the stability and space to explore innovation, whether that is new process models or creating new material prototypes.

Who is it for?

Cloud manufacturing benefits companies on both sides of the manufacturing coin. For customers ordering parts the financial safety, saved procurement resources and financial stability translates directly into faster time-to-market. For manufacturers, the model offers a more efficient and more data-driven method of managing their technical and administrative resources for manufacturers. The hourly model has been shown to be 31% less administrative work and provide a 17% savings on the total cost of procurement. 

The hourly rate model with cloud manufacturing is suitable for traditional fabrication processes such as turning, milling, waterjet cutting, laser cutting, and additive manufacturing processes, including filament fabrication, multi-jet modeling, selective laser sintering, and selective laser melting.

The problem it solves

Request-For-Quote (RFQ) is slow, expensive, and requires resources from both manufacturing and customer sides to manage. The process is wasteful and bears unnecessarily high transaction risk. The traditional RFQ process favors larger manufacturing companies as it requires intense resources to manage the individual negotiation of multiple jobs. This process has been fairly murky for some time. Customers are forced to accept quotes that are deemed reasonable, while manufacturers need to balance not knowing if they can retain customer loyalty. The hourly rate reduces both things by providing a clearer per hour cost for manufacturing that is based on the amount of commitment given by the customer. This model pushes for transparency from both sides.

Why now?

Manufacturers of custom parts and OEMs are under enormous pressure – because their manufacturing and production processes are often designed for constant demand, long lead times, and high volumes. Current trends, however, go in the opposite direction: technology is developing rapidly and the average life cycle of innovative products is getting shorter and shorter. At the same time, the demand for tailor-made products is increasing. This means: smaller batch sizes, shorter lead times, and product development cycles at lower costs are in demand. And all this in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. The hourly model supports the mechanical engineering industry on this path of transformation and makes it more competitive, more transparent, and more innovative as well as making the supply chain more resilient. This approach creates a truly collaborative approach to product development and manufacturing.

Enabling agile design

The hourly model enables an agile approach to manufacturing that can determine the future of innovation-focused companies. Imagine a European furniture company with 1900 employees and a € 380 million turnover that manufactures various mechanical products for furniture. This company can use fixed machine hourly rates for their main processes such as 5-axis milling that allow it to precisely know its manufacturing costs. This enables the company to confidently invest in new product development either using new processes such as additive manufacturing or new materials such as carbon fiber without investment into the manufacturing process itself or building and qualifying a new network of suppliers.

ABB Robot
Source: ABB

Ready to give KREATIZE a try?

KREATIZE is the first company to have developed the hourly model for cloud manufacturing into our platform. In our digital KMS platform, customers and manufacturing partners can easily handle the complete process from ordering to delivery of their custom parts. Our customers can order a part directly online with just a few clicks or request a quote and have full transparency of their order at all times. 

Get your free KREATIZE account today and start getting access to manufacturing services without any additional investment.

We asked ourselves what innovative hardware companies and the best machine builders need to remain successful in the 21st century.

Our answer is KREATIZE – Manufacturing the World Loves. We believe that the core competency of machine builders and hardware companies is design, software, and distribution. Internal manufacturing and the operation and management of a supplier network are not just ineffective but will lead to a competitive disadvantage. KREATIZE is the perfect partner for all companies that understand this and are looking for innovative manufacturing solutions.

Our innovative solution offers full transparency on manufacturing costs and production times so that purchasing and engineering can jointly optimize component costs. We also offer complete elasticity, allowing our customers to scale their demand seamlessly from a single prototype to series production—all of this with 100% CO2 neutrality and competitive prices.

As I said: Manufacturing the World Loves.
The best part of it all is that our customers achieve this without (additional) costs.

Since 2015, we have been working on our (now patented) software solution that combines all these advantages. From our Manufacturing Analysis, which provides you with an open-book calculation for each component, to production in our manufacturing cloud.

We have the best minds in mechanical engineering, quality assurance, and logistics, working for you to ensure that your products are manufactured to the highest quality standards and delivered reliably.

The best hardware companies are already working with KREATIZE, including Schunk, Atlas Copco and German Bionic just to name a few.

We could go on and on for days, but it’s best if you see for yourself.

Do you already know the phase-gate approach to accelerate innovation?

KREATIZE Whitepaper | Developing a hardware productGood news! We have something just for you: Download our free whitepaper on new product development to discover the six key steps to guide a project from idea to launch. You can also read our Blogpost about the phase-gate approach!

May we introduce our customer HENN

Interview with Martin Ohneberg, CEO of HENN GmbH & Co. KG

“We got off with a black eye in 2020 and will slightly exceed the previous year in terms of sales, which is a great success for an automotive supplier,” said Martin Ohneberg, CEO of our customer HENN.

Ohneberg is understandably proud to explain how the year 2020 worked out for him. The Dornbirn-based HENN GmbH & Co. KG is the leading supplier of quick couplings, charge air and cooling water systems and resonators.

We asked Martin Ohneberg about his learnings from Corona and which challenges the time after the pandemic holds for HENN – his answers can be found here in an interview:

We thank you for the interview, wish you a good start into the year 2021, and look forward to further cooperation.

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May we introduce: Our customer German Bionic – Technology leader for exoskeletons

Interview with Stefan Voswinkel, Head of Production at German Bionic

We take care of all your procurement needs so that you can make the world a better place.

Stefan Voswinkel | Head of Production at German Bionic

We at KREATIZE give every day everything to enable our customers to design and launch great products sustainably and at a high speed of innovation.

This also applies to our customer German Bionic – the first European manufacturer to develop and manufacture exoskeletons for use in industrial production. We are proud to have been able to support such an innovative customer in his development for more than 2 years. We would like to introduce you to the innovative company based in Augsburg, Berlin and Tokyo in more detail.

Mr. Voswinkel, German Bionic is a technology leader in the field of exoskeletons. What exactly makes your company so special?

That is correct. We are the world leaders in the development of active exoskeletons in the non-medical field. This means that our exoskeletons are mainly used in logistics, in lifting activities, e.g. in order picking or loading. We are also leading in intralogistic processes in production or even in the trade with our 4th generation Cray X.

Of course the bar is also set high: We want nothing less than to combine human intelligence with robotics. With our intelligent power suit, which now even learns by machine and makes suggestions for the optimal use, we are on the right track. For the users, however, another aspect is central: with the use of our orange exoskeletons, slipped discs are a thing of the past!

Exciting, I can imagine that product development and ramping up production was a great challenge for German Bionic. Can you share your most important “learnings” with us?

Absolutely. We have been around since 2017 and since then we have developed 4 generations of exoskeletons. So not just a facelift, but significant changes in production and performance.

We have manufactured generations 1 to 3 in aluminium – and have now switched completely to carbon fibre. You see: If we had built up a machine park for aluminium, we probably could not have taken this step towards an even better and new material without further ado. If we had stored many components from the first three generations, we would have found it rather difficult to “think again and again” and “courageously go ahead”.

German Bionic Cray X | 4. Generation aus Carbon

Investment in machinery and warehousing is a barrier to innovation. We have to react quickly and need a partner who will go along with us – one who is ready to support us in every new step from now on.

Scaling up and fast ramp-ups are essential – because the competition from Asia never sleeps.

Where do you see your production challenges for 2021?

None of us know how the year 2021 will develop in the face of the corona pandemic. Therefore flexibility is the key. We must be prepared to react quickly, depending on developments, in order to always supply customers with the highest quality. Also exciting for the future: we will also have to deal directly with the end customer. Here I do not mean that everyone will have an exoskeleton at home in the near future, but I think it is conceivable in the future that people will borrow one from the DIY store for heavy lifting work (wood, stones or cement bags).

You have been working with KREATIZE for 2 years now? What makes KREATIZE different?

I experience KREATIZE as a partner who works quickly, flexibly, reliably and with a high level of commitment. We are in a really good exchange, develop together and talk openly and honestly with each other. If something doesn’t go as planned, we talk things through directly and look for the best solution for both sides.

How do you want KREATIZE to develop?

Not entirely altruistically, I can say: for us, a further expansion of production technologies would be great! I would like to see KREATIZE become our one-stop shop, where we can handle the entire purchasing process. And who supports us with his expertise in scaling up. I wish KREATIZE that your brand continues to establish itself, that you continue to grow and that word of your crisis-proof concept gets around. Gladly together with us!

Ex-Apple, Dell and Uber Supply-Chain Executive joins KREATIZE

Ex-Apple, Dell and Uber Supply-Chain Executive joins KREATIZE to build the best in class global manufacturing cloud.

ZOD B. Mehr I CSO KREATIZE GmbH

With the mission to build the best global on-demand manufacturing cloud, Zod B. Mehr is starting as of November 01, 2020 as Chief Supply-Chain Officer at KREATIZE. After 10 years at Dell, 11 years at Apple and most recently at Uber, the company has high expectations of Zod, who is currently moving with his family from California to Berlin. 

To better introduce Zod to you, he answered a few questions about himself, his goals and his love for onion tart and vintage cars:

You have worked for Dell, Apple and Uber recently – really impressive stations – what is it that attracts you to KREATIZE now?

When I joined Apple in early 2008, it was just embarking on what would become a premier powerhouse in product lifecycle management.  We were breaking barriers in manufacturing capability, cost, quality and cycle-time of high-volume, complex mechanical parts. There was definitely a start-up energy across the cross-functional teams, from Industrial design to engineering to Mechanical operations.  As the saying goes, we all wore many different “hats”.

ZOD B. Mehr wants to build the top global manufacturing cloud

I feel that Kreatize also embodies an energy & innovative spirit that will revolutionize the process of ordering and fabricating mechanical parts through its proprietary software platform.  KREATIZE is, in a way, the natural progression of the manufacturing methodology that started at Apple not so long ago which was machining the entire laptop chassis from a billet of aluminum. 

What are your plans for the first few months at KREATIZE?

During my first few months, my focus will be to engage with the team (both Partner and Customer facing) and deep dive into the complexities of the platform and the fulfillment model.  My aim is to fully grasp and appreciate how Kreatize transforms orders to in-spec mechanical parts.  During this time period, I will get to better know and spend time with Kreatize team members as well! 

Next we can explore opportunities to standardize processes and put in place best practices I have picked up while managing complex mechanical (and electrical) supply chains.  Last but not least I plan on visiting our Partners and solicit their inputs on how to make the order process & fulfillment easier and more repeatable & predictable. 

What challenges do you think the manufacturing world will face in the next 5 years? 

The challenges to global manufacturing remain the same as before plus the addition of taking into account and reducing the carbon footprint of production.

  • Customer focus: at times this may include mentoring and coaching the customer to ensure first time satisfaction (rather than multiple manufacturing iterations)
  • Cost management
  • Quality
  • Planning & Risk Management to ensure Continuity of Supply and Time-to-Delivery
  • Supplier/Partner Relationship Management. Our Partners are one of our strongest assets.  We should listen, take notes and adjust processes to ensure quality and on-time delivery
  • Talent up and down the supply chain

And what exactly do we have to do to further strengthen mechanical engineering? 

I’m unable to say what the opportunities are for mechanical engineering before spending adequate time with my Kreatize colleagues first.  However from my personal experience as the head of Mac Enclosure Quality at Apple, I believe there may be opportunities to reduce scrap, improve first-pass yield, reduce turnaround time and build assembly-ready parts by standardizing the method of defining tolerances in CAD.  

By adopting a standard drawing protocol (Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, GD&T) between customers and suppliers, we can also ensure the parts can be assembled into the final product at high yields.  This was our experience, when between 2008 and 2010, Apple Mechanical Enclosures team (Design and Operations) fully adopted GD&T and began to see a dramatic increase in assembly first-pass yield.

You are currently living with your family in California – where we are thinking primarily of lots of sun, beach and sea – what are you looking forward to most in Germany? 

We’re looking forward to exploring the culture, the music, the outdoors and the diversity of people in Berlin and Germany and Europe in general.  I lived in Germany in the early 90s as a young engineer on loan from IBM-US and have fond memories of going to fun Wine festivals (I love a nice Zwiebelkuchen with a glass of chilled white wine!).  

We enjoy running and I look forward to exploring Berlin by foot. 

By the way, the beaches are pretty and plentiful in California, but also quite cold year around (~15’C)! 

And what will be the first thing you really want to show your children in Berlin?

After spending the past 7 months sheltering-in-place and “distant-learning” from home, my wife and I look forward to leave the kids with a babysitter and spend some quality time exploring Berlin by ourselves! 🙂 My wife Nora who lived in Berlin for a few years says she would love to revisit Clärchens Ballhaus and Kunstwerke. We are also looking forward to the diverse food options available in Berlin.  

Not to neglect the kids, I plan on taking them to Classic-Remise (which I visited last time I was in Berlin) and look at all the classic car and motorcycles.  Here’s a photo of me pretending to drive off with my new car (fall of 2018). The kids are actually most excited about exploring the subway system.

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