How symmedia's cloud-based solution accelerates the service business in mechanical engineering

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symmedia’s goal was to transform its business by switching to a cloud-based solution. The result, the Secure Service Hub (SSH), represents a new generation of highly secure collaboration system that has led to a 50% increase in new business.

Market leader in Industry 4.0 solutions

symmedia is the world's leading provider of secure digital service solutions for mechanical and plant engineering. Based in Bielefeld, Germany, they help customers worldwide to use cutting-edge Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

As a pioneer in Industry 4.0 solutions, symmedia employs around 100 people, focusing on Europe and Asia. Its products are used in more than 100 countries worldwide.

The customer base includes 75 companies, including optics manufacturer Zeiss and the car manufacturer Audi.

Since launching more than 25 years ago, symmedia has built a solid reputation with its core solution SP/1, known for secure and reliable remote access and service solutions for industrial machinery. In 2017, it was taken over by the industrial group Georg Fischer.

SP/1 was a client server-based solution offering a powerful and reliable system for remote maintenance and control of industrial machines. It was primarily a white-label solution for machine manufacturers to provide an additional service for end customers.

Strategic shift to cloud-based platform

SP/1 remains a market-leading product, but its architecture required customers to set up their own data centers, leading to additional installation and operational costs.

Consequently, symmedia’s customer base consisted of predominantly machine manufacturers who could afford these costs by offering SP/1 to several customers at the same time. However, this represented a small potential customer base compared to the large group of end-users operating machinery for production.

In 2020, symmedia decided to fundamentally realign its business model to target this significantly larger potential customer base of machine operators. This required a complete redesign of SP/1, enhancing its functionality and adding flexibility through migrating to the cloud. A web interface accessible from mobile devices or desktops was also to be integrated.

The conditions for a successful realignment were good as Industry 4.0 was becoming more prevalent, and machine operators increasingly recognised the potential of IoT devices to increase production, efficiency, sustainability and reduce costs at the same time.

The implementation required a project team with expertise in both cloud and web interfaces, with top priority given to maintaining symmedia’s high security standards.

For the joint design, system setup, and architecture development, symmedia leveraged the expertise of Sopra Steria.

We have created a completely new generation of secure remote monitoring and service management for industrial machinery. It is a game-changer. Andreas Thal Managing Director, symmedia

A new generation of remote monitoring and service management

Instead of outsourcing development, Sopra Steria worked within the symmedia project team, providing 18 experts in full-stack development, UX design, solution architecture, operations engineering and project management. The project followed an Agile approach with bi-weekly Scrum cycles and was completed in just 18 months - a remarkable achievement for the complexity of the solution.

The result was the Secure Service Hub (SSH): a web-based service solution allowing companies to securely and remotely monitor their machines. It also acts as a central hub for the storage of plant documentation, for communication, and for the exchange of information.

Hosted on Microsoft Azure Cloud, it offers customers a versatile, reliable and secure 24-hour service without the need for server setup or software installation, reducing the barriers to entry and license fees.

SSH facilitates digital collaboration with internal and external partners and includes a Service Case Management Tool for creating repair tickets and sharing information.

As a result, managers can use video conferencing, screen and file sharing, and interactive whiteboards to create secure, cross-organisational chat rooms with repair technicians. Simultaneous remote access to the HMI (Human Machine Interface) or to the control unit of the machine by the 2nd and 3rd level technicians of the respective machine manufacturer is now possible, accelerating repair work.

SSH serves as a central, secure repository for asset data, maintenance and repair logs.

Faster, cheaper and more environmentally friendly with the highest level of security

The new SSH has significantly boosted symmedia's business. Within just over six months, symmedia saw a 50% increase in new customers choosing the new solution.

A key highlight: Reducing investment costs for customers by a factor of ten has shortened the sales cycle from about twelve months to just a few weeks.

The SSH's streamlined web interface allows faster customer onboarding, reducing the process from up to nine months with the legacy solution, to just one week. Remote maintenance has also increased customer efficiency and reduced costs.

For example, the service speed at Rena Systems (a technology leader in wet processing equipment) has increased fivefold. Shorter downtimes mean higher productivity.

Another important cost saving comes from SSH’s ability to integrate of third-party apps, giving machine operators more leverage in negotiating prices with service providers.

SSH also helps reduce a company’s carbon footprint, contributing to the reduction of CO2 balance sheet of a company: Problems are detected earlier and trips by technicians are largely eliminated with remote monitoring, significantly lowering CO2 emissions.

With SSH’s successful launch, symmedia is preparing to expand the solution to China in 2024.

Our experts have combined precise expertise with adaptability, turning cloud migration from the drawing board to reality. Nils Barkow, Account Manager, Energy, Utilities & Industrials, Sopra Steria


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