The Industrial Automation Services arm of Bilfinger UK will offer its customers the opportunity to implement latest technologies, refresh ageing assets and access guaranteed service levels, through a new managed service offering
Under the model, which is believed to be one of the first of its kind in the UK for Industry, Bilfinger will ensure continuous system availability and functionality. Rather than investing in technology that may be superseded in a short period of time, customers will receive planned upgrades and refresh of their technology.
Bilfinger says this approach will enable its customers to benefit from state-of-the-art control, automation and operational services without incurring a large capital cost. In other sectors, such as building services, managed services have a proven track record of improving operations, reducing cost of ownership and providing access to innovative technologies or the ability to migrate technology over time. The business says this alternative model can replace the traditional asset purchasing cycle under which manufacturers or plant owners and operators make large-scale capital investments - often through accessing bank debt like asset-based lending - into new kit and on-going maintenance responsibility.
As Bilfinger maintains ultimate ownership of the asset it will be responsible for optimising performance, monitoring and managing asset functionality and preventing downtime within the terms of its agreements. Bilfinger argues that the classic approach to asset investment and renewal is prohibitive to many in the UK manufacturing and process sectors in the current climate and so potential productivity gains are being lost.
Dave Pickles, managing director of the group’s Bilfinger Industrial Automation Services business, comments: “This is an infrastructure as a service model, which will help businesses to switch spend from capex to a fixed opex and take depreciating assets off their balance sheets. This frees up resources that can be invested into core operations while also levelling out expenditure and helping provide more accurate long-term forecasts.
“The issue is particularly acute in areas like automation where technological change is raid; expensive equipment can become outdated in shorter timeframes than firms are able to reinvest within. The economies of scale we can gain means that equipment can be updated more regularly.”
Bilfinger UK plans to offer the Managed Service to clients of its Bilfinger Industrial Automation Services business initially, which includes firms operating across the manufacturing and process industries, before extending the offering to the customer base of its Bilfinger Industrial Service operation. This division provides support services to plant operators in the oil and gas, petrochemical and energy storage and transmission markets.
The Bilfinger UK group of businesses also includes real estate advisory firm Bilfinger GVA and integrated facilities management provider Bilfinger Europa. In total, the group employs more than 9,000 people across the UK generating revenues of £650m annually. The UK is the second largest market for Bilfinger globally.