Making steel surfaces smart

Creating new opportunities for value-added products in the steel industry
The Question

A research team of an international steel-based technology and capital goods group invented a new process for printing functional structures on steel surfaces. These conductive structures permit additional functionality such as heating, operating, monitoring and measuring, thereby opening-up a completely new range of opportunities for value-added products.

The CEO invited me to support the team in finding possible future application areas and setting up a tightly managed business development process that would allow them to develop the most promising business cases, test them prototypically with customers, and to evaluate their yield. All this should happen in less than 6 months.

The Finding

Due to the tight schedule, it was necessary to quickly define a number of different formats to enable the project team to identify many new application areas with stakeholder-involvement from a wide range of different industries (open innovation). In order to identify the most promising areas of application we facilitated a series of workshops with all actors relevant in the respective value-creating network. In a final step, we invited a limited number of teams to put their ideas into practice and demonstrate them in form of prototypes, to test the benefits for the customer and ultimately translate the financial success of the application into concrete figures.

My task was to set up the process, coordinate the process flow and identify potential stakeholders far away from their own industry in order to generate the broadest possible range of ideas for future applications.

The success of the project led to the initiation of further steps towards series production.