Operation and maintenance: once a support, now the essence of the business

Manuel Baraza,
director for Industry and director for Energy & Utilities at Ibermática

Ibermática is one of Spain's leading providers of IT services present in the market since 1973 whose mission has consisted in assisting with the digital transformation of companies, institutions and organisations to improve their competitiveness by applying technology and knowledge based on commitment and closeness. By being close to its customer base, the company has been able to carry out a permanent expansion process and further deploy business transactions. Nowadays, Ibermática is a multinational corporation that is present in more than 10 countries in Europe and America with more than 3,350 professionals working at 20 operational centres. The company is engaged in a number of sectors such as finance, insurance, industry, services, telecommunications, health, energy & utilities and public administrations and offers specific sector solutions. Manuel Baraza, the director for Industry and Energy & Utilities sectors shares his thoughts with newtek on the industrial ecosystem.

1.- Operation and maintenance solutions have become one of the basic pillars of the industry and are essential component as regards new trends such as Industry 4.0, but where does their importance lie?

Nowadays, digital transformation associated with Industry 4.0 is the main challenge for the industrial sector. It is a structural change conducive to smart factories, to a new culture that must deal with new challenges such as, for instance, unitary traceability in manufacturing (parts with data) or the deployment of autonomous systems equipped with decision intelligence. This has produced a major disruption in the operational efficiency of assets or in the need servitise products. It is in this context where operation and maintenance solutions have become so important and critical to become not only a support but also the essence of the business itself.

But not only is efficiency essential, so is resilience too. You must be able to adapt to demand and do so very quickly. The speed of adaptation to changes of any kind and "knowing what would happen if" are nowadays a significant competitive advantage. The entire supply chain must be digital and interconnectivity and collaboration between all stakeholders along the value chain, in-house and between companies must exist.

In short, it is crucial to have a global and integrated view of processes and technologies; moreover, all solutions, and not only those related to operation and maintenance, must be focused on and enabled for the IT/OT convergence.

2.- What position does a company such as Ibermática aspire to achieve in terms of of operation and maintenance solutions?

At Ibermática, we have a clear vocation and firmly believe in our leadership, because of, on the one hand, our global vision and integration and, on the other, because the Ibermática Manufacturing Platform is one of the best European proposals for midmarket spanning engineering and the plant itself.

The roots of an environment like the Basque Country, with an active focus on leadership in the field of industry 4.0, and with hundreds of our customers that have provided us with an enormous amount of knowledge and experience resulting from their leadership in different sectors in which they have carried out expansion and internationalisation procedures after achieving high levels of excellence in their industrial processes have allowed us to maintain a continuous ambition in terms of innovation and growth.

By bringing together essence and knowledge, we can only aspire to playing a leadership role and will always be open to collaborating with third parties. Our creative spirit and collaborative efforts have brought us to this point and will project us even further in the future.

3.- Without a doubt, digital transformation is not only a great challenge and a splendid opportunity but also a necessity. How does Ibermática apply digital transformation and smart industry in different environments?

We are ambitious and have enough capacity to deliver a strategy and provide the degree of support our customers need to make the most of the opportunities offered by Industry 4.0. Our vision is a company extensive and comprehensive, and so is our value proposal. But if I were to underscore some fields of application, it would be those listed hereunder:

  • Knowledge and experience in the area of Big Data and advanced analytics applied to processes adapted to the new dynamic required by industrial organisations.
  • Solutions in all three industrial domains: fully integrated plant engineering and management.
  • Design, development and implementation of integral IT/OT for smart factories.
  • Global geographic support capacity.
  • Etc.

In short, a flexible solvency, as demonstrated by the five consecutive years of our leadership with regard to private reports on service quality in which customers have evaluated their key providers of technological services.

4.- In this regard, what role does the new Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) Expertise Center, jointly established with IK4-TEKNIKER, play and would do you think about its implementation?

The digital transformation process associated with Industry 4.0 has given rise to changes in how we relate to each other. This reality, coupled with our own essence as a company, has led to collaborative efforts with regard to development, innovation and growth. And it was in this environment where the reality of the Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) Expertise Center was born with the assistance of IK4-TEKNIKER, to provide enough leverage for this vision of a future based on uniting the strengths of two organisations that know and complement each other so well.

The MOM is a wonderful opportunity for industrial firms as it allows them to reduce implementation risks by designing and developing specific solutions for each customer (as per company standards) followed by implementation/testing in pilot settings. This is possible because MOM offers teams with a high level of expertise in terms of production processes and technologies and a close relationship with R&D teams focused on developing products.

The value proposal we deliver to our customers is exceptional because, when dealing with development, innovation, international challenges or new launches, it can reduce the duration of what is known as the death valley in the life cycle of an investment and it is frequently vital to do so.

5.- This is a fine example of a collaboration between a company and a technology centre, but what does Ibermática expect it will deliver and what will it contribute in terms of its value proposal?

As mentioned before, collaboration is an essential characteristic of the environment and our character. It is nowadays an intrinsic element of the industrial economic ecosystem. But the ties with IK4-TEKNIKER are much stronger. Our long-standing collaborative relationship is solid in terms of knowledge, reliability and performance and allows us to share their mindset with regard to continuous creation and innovation. We also fully coincide with their creative drive.

We hope that this shared project, the MOM Expertise Center, will allow us to generate greater value for our customers and the industrial market as a whole to assist in setting up smart factories based on the possibilities that will be offered by the Industry 4.0 digital revolution that has only just begun.