What do Apple CEO Tim Cook and Helmar Franz, chief strategy officer of Chinese injection machine maker Haitian International, have in common?
Both execs are doing a lot of thinking about new sales channels and disruptive business models these days.
In the case of Apple, June 30 saw the electronics giant launch its own music streaming service. The company didn't invent streaming, of course, but it has proven adept at applying business models in a very disruptive way.
This public radio interview offers a look at why Apple's entry into the market for leasing rather than owning your music could have a big impact.
Similarly, Haitian — which is China's largest injection press maker and one of the world's biggest — is taking a serious look at what these new business models mean for an old-line machinery maker.
In this business model, the benefit of the machine comes from using it, not always owning it. Add to that software and hardware businesses increasingly meshing together, such as with Apple and Google looking at driverless cars. For plastics, it could include more of the “lease rather than own” model for machinery or other developments.
Franz included the topic in recent presentations to stock analysts and also to journalists at the Chinaplas fair in May in Guangzhou.
At Chinaplas, he told Plastics News that it's a “very important question” that gets to the “what is the kind of activity and development we as a hardware manufacturer need to foresee in this digitalized world.”
More broadly, it's called Industry 4.0 and it's on the minds of many executives these days, not just Haitian, of course.
But what makes Haitian's interest noteworthy is the company's size and its strength in the commodity end of the global markets, not the super high-tech end.
Franz would not be drawn out on how much Haitian's business could be impacted, and to be fair, probably no company can know.
But he made clear it's a serious topic of study, and Haitian's presentation slides suggested changes in how customers look at the equipment they want. It noted new sales channels and the “expected new position of hardware in the minds of the consumer.”
Without revealing any real specifics, Haitian noted that the “benefit for the customer comes not from owning the machine but from using it,” and it asked, “Why not standard injection molding machines?”
Franz said the company's having a lot of conversations with its customers, others in the industry and academics trying to better understand the implications of all aspects of Industry 4.0.
“I'm not saying that all Haitian may be different,” he said. “Things are never black and white. But I think part of Haitian needs to be different.”