Oxford Brookes Business School

Oxford Brookes Business School part of Innovate UK funded study on doing Digital Servitization

Monday, 09 November 2020

Baxi Image

Oxford Brookes Business School secure funding to develop a Digital Servitization Demonstrator

Two colleagues at Oxford Brookes Business School, Professor Tim Vorley and Dr Cristian Gherhes, are part of a team of industrial and academic partners led by Baxi Heating. The project which has secured £1.7m Innovate UK funding will develop a Digital Servitization Demonstrator, and explore new opportunities for business growth and transformation. The award is part of a £300 million UK government initiative to boost manufacturing productivity by 30%. Manufacturing Made Smarter is a UK government initiative dedicated to the innovation of industrial digital technologies in UK manufacturing.

The scale and impact of the project demonstrates the potential of servitization to positively impact productivity. An exploratory project across 77 SMEs in the West Midlands has demonstrated that early adoption can stimulate growth in Gross Value Added (GVA) of £7,500/employee and productivity improvements by 16%.

The funding will be used to develop a Digital Servitization Demonstrator around Baxi Heating to help them deliver ‘Heat as a Service’. The Demonstrator will combine advanced services and digital servitization technologies, including sensors, software and other technologies, often referred to as the ‘internet of things’ (IoT) to create a digital model of Baxi's manufacturing and service business.

The digital model will be converted to a neutral digital platform with the potential to be used as a wider, all-industry adaptable Servitization model. The model is envisaged to enable a range of manufacturers to use digital technologies to manage contracts, supply chains, customer contacts and all aspects of their business. Through the project this will see the Digital Servitization Demonstrator applied to a number of firms in different sectors, including: Koolmill Systems (foods),UV Light Technology(health) and Tactile Technologies(technology)

Karen Boswell, Managing Director of Baxi Heating, said: “This is just the sort of innovation strategy that UK manufacturers should be looking at if they want to continue to grow their businesses. Customers are demanding much more than products with a maintenance programme now – they want complete peace of mind, a ‘fit and forget’ service, knowing that everything will be taken care of for them."

In contributing to the project Dr Cristian Gherhes, Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes Business School commented “We are delighted to be part of this project, working with a range of leading academic and industrial partners to explore the transformative potential of digital servitization, and more specifically what this means for the development of business models."

Executive Director of the Advanced Services GroupProfessor Tim Baines agrees that the joint project will be of immense value to the manufacturing sector and showcase the future potential of the sector. “This project heralds the adoption of servitization in mainstream UK manufacturing…  helping to demonstrate that the real value capture opportunity for digital is beyond the factory gate!”

Karen Boswell added: “This project could be ground-breaking, not just in manufacturing, but in other sectors too, boosting productivity and facilitating logistics, supply chains and service. We are very excited to be at the leading edge.”

For more information contact Cristian Gherhes: cgherhes@brookes.ac.uk