Jan, what made you decide to join the PA/ATS Group?
Jan Verhasselt: Over the last few years we have demonstrated that our software product Yanomaly delivers value to industrial production companies. But we also found out that the large companies we serve, prefer to work with other large companies for deploying software solutions to their different factories in different countries. They like to work with innovative scale-ups like Yazzoom to test new technologies in pilot projects, but hesitate to subsequently roll that successful technology out to all their different factories as long as the supplier is a small company. Quite often the headquarters of our customers are located outside of Belgium, and the international reach of PA/ATS gives more confidence to our prospects and customers. At the same time, working with PA/ATS allows us to provide support to international customers in their own time zone and in their own language. Yanomaly is a scalable product. By becoming a member of PA/ATS, Yazzoom has become a more scalable company. Mind you, last year 40% of our revenue already came from outside of Belgium.
Erik De Nert: There are many similarities between our acquisitions. Just like Yazzoom, Inimco was already active internationally and we had already been partnering with PA/ATS. We already knew there was a fit. Being a member of the larger group allows us to serve large customers and deliver global support. For a scale-up, it’s always a challenge to grow your headcount and geographical reach while also putting enough resources into product development. It’s great to have Yazzoom in the family, as we had already been sharing a booth at the Hannover Messe in 2019 because we already knew Inimco.Facts and Yanomaly were a great complement to each other.
PA/ATS has a build-and-buy strategy. This summer they also acquired life science digitization solution provider Odyssey. But contrary to many mergers, the companies can keep their own identities. That is an advantage, I assume?
Erik: Indeed. Both PA Solutions and the structure above it, ATS, have the strategy of keeping their subsidiaries as separate entities. But, at the same time, we can benefit from the know-how of all other entities, so have a stronger position in the market.
Jan: I was fortunate to get insights from Erik on how things worked after the acquisition and that convinced me. It’s important for our customers – they keep the same contacts at Yazzoom – but also for the government-funded research programs that we participate in.
A perfect fit
How complementary are the solutions of PA/ATS, Inimco and Yazzoom?
Jan: Our products are a perfect fit. We are specialized in data analysis but, to get to that point, you need data collection first, and the ability to share data, for instance in the cloud. Together, we can close the loop of collecting data, contextualizing data, analyzing data and taking actions based on that analysis. In the end, these actions are what delivers value to an organization. By bringing together PA’s ability to install sensors and set up data connectivity to local data historians, Inimco.Facts for data collection and visualization in the Azure cloud, and Yanomaly that can be added to any local or cloud process database, we can offer an end-to-end solution, from inside the machine to the cloud. What Yanomaly adds is the capability of digging deep into the data to find relations between them, perform real-time monitoring of the machines we are collecting data from and suggest remediation when necessary.
Erik: Manufacturers and machine builders can only gain scalability by moving to the cloud, so our cloud expertise is a crucial element in the entire solution mix. When organizations are digitizing to gain scalability and standardization across multiple factories, they need to get their data out of their Operational Technology (OT) and into the cloud. That’s the only way to bring digitization to multiple production plants in multiple geographical locations.
Broad solution mix
What does this closer collaboration mean for existing and future customers of Inimco and Yazzoom?
Jan: We bring a solution to two trends in the market. On the one hand, companies require an end-to-end solution, and we can deliver that. At the same time, they want to work with a smaller number of providers. By pooling our resources and working with one point of contact for the entire group, we deliver on that promise too. Each of us will keep their own product roadmap. Our products can already be integrated through APIs, there is no need to turn them into one product.
Erik: Each of us already had a compelling story for customers and it has only become more convincing now that we can offer a solution that is even more complete. And although the core has always been the manufacturing industry, we can now bring a stronger offering to the process industry, discrete manufacturing, pharmaceutical companies, machine builders… They all stand to benefit from our joint solutions. The Digitization Business Unit of PA/ATS combines the strengths of Inimco, Yazoom, Odyssey and PA’s Advanced Application division, and can further enhance that with the process optimization services of IPCOS and BLSG. That is a very powerful ecosystem that drives value for our customers.
What big trends are you playing into with the joint solutions?
Jan: The trends are quite visible, I think. There is the push towards digitization, the drive towards process optimization by decision support systems or even automation of the optimization or issue remediation action.
Erik: Energy consumption and sustainability are important too, and we can really make a difference there. We provide insights into energy data and allow the system to learn from these data and automatically adapt. One of our strengths is combining data for many purposes, both for Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) and for energy consumption and CO2 emissions. By combining and contextualizing these data, you can look at your production efficiency from a totally different angle. That can have a huge impact.
Jan: One of our customers saves one million euros a year thanks to our AI-based prediction of short-term trends in energy prices and letting that steer production.
Digitization of the production floor is happening and it’s happening now. Companies that are not engaged in this will fall behind. Better insights and real-time monitoring and optimization deliver a lot of value. But you need to work together with subject-matter specialists to get the most out of it. Offering the combined products of Inimco, Yazzoom and PA/ATS provides customers with the best of both worlds: we deliver a one-stop shop for industrial applications, with a deep specialization in each aspect of the cycle. Customers do not need to choose between a one-stop-shop or a set of best-of-breed solutions, we can offer them best-fitting solutions, not only through products but also through managed services.