Digitalization Partnership: How GKN Established a Digital Platform with 3YD to Realize the Disruptive Potential of Metal Additive Manufacturing
Situation faced: GKN Powder Metallurgy, a leading manufacturer for high precision parts for the automotive industry (GKN Sinter Metals) as well as for metal powder (GKN Hoeganaes), faced the question of how to deliver the future technology of metal additive manufacturing successfully to the market. The potential which stems from disruptive technologies, such as 3D printing to established structures of the industry, was supposed to be realized through an innovative business model before other competitors or new entrants would claim the market.
Action taken: GKN connected with start-ups to gain access to innovative ideas and digital know-how. But it also realized that thinking differently makes it necessary to act differently. Therefore, a separate unit was created, which was detached from the established organizational structure. Together with 3YOURMIND (3YD), a start-up in the area of 3D printing, GKN not only realized a platform and business model, but also digitalized the related back-end processes. Based on the initial success and the grown relationship, the digitalization partnership was furthermore instructed to question the status quo at GKN in more fundamental ways.
Results achieved: With InstAMetal, a digital platform and brand has been developed through which the potential of Metal additive manufacturing (MAM) could be realized at the front-end. Due to innovative services as well as the high scalability and reach of the platform, not only existing customers could be inspired with the new offer, but completely new customers and markets could be won. The platform also triggered the digitalization of the related back-end processes, and while technology and procedures changed, the culture also began to transform with regard to the daily work with 3YOURMIND. Inspired by this success, traditional manufacturing technologies are now being successively investigated for their digital potential and platform capability.
Lessons learned: Four central aspects turned out to be important parameters in the digitalization partnership of GKN and 3YOURMIND: (i) plan digital projects “by sight”, but with a vision, (ii) start in market niches and corporate niches to gain experience and legitimacy, (iii) set up a shelter, in order to decouple the digital initiative from established organizational patterns of action and thought, and (iv) actively engage in co-innovation by systematically opening and networking with start-ups, customers and corporates—because digitalization does not stop, but rather starts at corporate boundaries.
We would like to thank Josh Norman who helped to build InstAMetal and gave us valuable contributions.
- 3YD (2017) InstAMetal web interface & price comparison. https://www.3yourmind.com/de/enterprise. Accessed 20 Dec 2017
- Christensen CM (1997) The innovator’s dilemma: when new technologies cause great firms to fail. Harvard Business School Press, BostonGoogle Scholar
- Daedal Research (2016) Global metal additive manufacturing market: size, trends & forecasts (2016–2020)Google Scholar
- Friedrich von den Eichen S, Matzler K (2012) Disruptive Innovationen erfolgreich managen. Symposium Publishing, DüsseldorfGoogle Scholar
- GKN (2017) GKN powder metallurgy – a bottle opener as an example of additive manufacturing. http://casellasdesign.de/portfolio/flaschenoeffner-additive-manufacturing. Accessed 20 Dec 2017
- Gloger B (2008) Scrum: Produkte zuverlässig und schnell entwickeln. Hanser Verlag, MünchenGoogle Scholar
- Kollmann T, Stöckmann C, Hensellek S, Kensbock JM (2016) European Startup Monitor 2016. http://europeanstartupmonitor.com/fileadmin/esm_2016/report/ESM_2016.pdf. Accessed 5 Sept 2017
- Leupold A, Glossner S (2016) 3D-Druck, Additive Fertigung und Rapid Manufacturing. Rechtlicher Rahmen und unternehmerische Herausforderung. Franz Vahlen, MünchenGoogle Scholar
- Muller A, Karevska S (2016) How will 3D printing make your company the strongest link in the value chain? EY’s global 3D printing report 2016. Ernst & Young, MannheimGoogle Scholar
- Nonaka I, Takeuchi H (1995) The knowledge-creating company: how Japanese companies create the dynamics of innovation. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- O’Reilly C, Tushman M (2008) Ambidexterity as a dynamic capability: resolving the innovator’s dilemma. Res Org Behav 28:185–206Google Scholar
- O’Reilly C, Tushman M (2016) Lead and disrupt: how to solve the innovator’s dilemma. Stanford Business Books, StanfordGoogle Scholar
- Ries E (2011) The lean startup: how today’s entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses. Crown Business, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Sculpteo (2017) The state of 3D printing – 2017. https://www.sculpteo.com/en/get/report/state_of_3D_printing_2017/. Accessed 20 Dec 2017
- Siemens (2014) 3D Printing: facts & forecasts. https://www.siemens.com/innovation/en/home/pictures-of-the-future/industry-and-automation/Additive-manufacturing-facts-and-forecasts.html. Accessed 20 Dec 2017
- Wildhirt K (2011) Wissensmanagementstrategien zur Steigerung der Innovationsfähigkeit von Unternehmensberatungen – Eine empirische Analyse am Beispiel der Detecon International GmbH, Kölner Wissenschaftsverlag, KölnGoogle Scholar