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In 2021, Oerlikon further advanced its digital transformation consistently, focusing on the integration of digital solutions in the area of customer interface and the digital integration in operational areas such as support functions, production and supply chain.

The objectives for these projects are to make customer interfaces more user-friendly, to upgrade products and services and to achieve cost advantages through efficiency gains.

The upgrades bring simplification and flexibility to the range of services and provide not only the added value for existing customers to adapt to the ever-faster changes in their market environment, but they can also open up new markets and customer segments in the future for Oerlikon.

In 2021, the Digital Hub in Munich, Germany, was expanded to enable further scaling of digital business models and platforms, setting the course for further growth. Oerlikon is building up its talents, skills and capacities at the Hub – its innovation center – to drive further digital transformation. The focus is on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), automation, digital sales and, increasingly, analytics and artificial intelligence. In particular, data science is increasingly gaining focus for use in implementing data-based business models.

Here are some examples of ongoing digital projects for customers in 2021:

  • Digital sales platform: A digital sales platform based on modern cloud architecture was developed to open up new digital sales channels for increased customer benefit with reduced transaction costs. 
  • Smart coating center: Various automation projects are being implemented to increase flexibility, productivity and quality in the service center for surface coatings worldwide. Automation potential is realized through the use of cobots, visual inspection and process control with the help of artificial intelligence.
  • myMetco: Oerlikon Metco’s 24/7 e-commerce platform enables customers to securely, easily and efficiently order materials and spare parts for their Oerlikon Metco equipment online. The platform, launched in May 2020 in the U.S. proved to be popular with customers and is now being rolled out for customers in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Operationally, digitalization and digitization initiatives were launched to increase efficiency and enable cost savings within Oerlikon. 

Some examples of internal digital projects in 2021 include:

  • Robot Process Automation (RPA): The use of RPA was extended to support functions such as finance, purchasing and human resources and delivered results in increasing efficiency. A total of more than four pilot projects for the automation of internal back-office activities were started, representing the first steps toward a more agile organization.
  • SAP GO!: To simplify, harmonize and increase the efficiency of its business processes, Oerlikon continued the implementation of a global SAP system with the SAP GO! program, with the successful rollout in Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, Italy and in the United Kingdom in 2022. By the end of 2023, the program will be implemented in more than 130 Surface Solutions locations globally.
  • Interactive boards: To reduce the usage of paper while still keeping employees informed, interactive information and shop-floor boards were piloted at ten Oerlikon Balzers sites and will be rolled out to other Surface Solutions sites in 2022.
  • Cyber preparedness: The Information Security team worked with functions and divisions to fine-tune the crisis actions, plans, management, escalation and communication processes to raise cyber preparedness for scenarios involving full or partial attack.

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