„The heating system itself will call the installer in future“

Predictive Maintenance: André Doerfer is working on how networked air-conditioning technology can organise its own maintenance.

Life’s not easy for technical services. They always have to show up when the heating system has stopped working and bear the brunt of the customer’s displeasure, especially if they are sitting in a cold home in the middle of winter. They don’t often get to experience gratitude.André Doerfer’s work could make the life of technical services personnel more agreeable. He is working on a service called “predictive maintenance” at Viessmann. The intention is for the heating to report before a failure occurs, allowing technical service to intervene before it becomes necessary to deal with an irate customer.“It’s a terrific idea,” said André, “which I’m dying to realise.”

A diverse team that shares a positive mood

André has been with the VC/O Viessmann subsidiary since the beginning of the year. It develops new business areas for the digital world for this traditional air conditioning manufacturer. This 39-year-old Head of Digital Products gives the impression that he has reached the place where he has always wanted to be professionally. “At VC/O we think and work like a start-up company. In a relaxed atmosphere, with flat hierarchies where the doors are always open. At the same time we have the backing of a large, financially powerful company with more than 100 years of experience”, said André. This mixture generates a unique atmosphere. “The commitment, the energy and creativity and how we get on with each other is extraordinarily positive. I have never experienced such a universally positive atmosphere in such as diverse team,” said André, who worked for a large mobility service provider and a medium-sized medical technology manufacturer following his degree in business administration, specialising in marketing.

How can you tell that “the employees are at the centre of things at Viessmann”, as André puts it? He gives the “State of the Nation” format as an example of this. In this video format, decision makers at the management level regularly ask themselves the questions that employees all over the world ask and vote for through the sli.do website. And every week at VC/O, the mood among the colleagues is determined with the “All Hands” tool. “Questions are not just asked, they are also responded to”, said André. “We have grown so quickly, for example, that there was not enough space for us, and part of the team moved into a co-working space. Although that resolved the space problem, the close cooperation with colleagues was missing. So we are all looking forward to moving into the “Maschinenraum”, the co-working space that Viessmann is opening next year.

In future no heating system should fail.

André also has to find solutions for his favourite area: predictive maintenance. The principal requirements for predictive maintenance are intelligent, networked systems. The equipment from Viessmann is consistently better networked. In the past, for example, the box required for linking the equipment to the internet had to be set up by the installer. “That took a while and many installers simply didn’t take the time to do this”, said André. The latest generation of boilers connect to the internet automatically. Should any performance problems arise, the equipment sends a fault report before the customer becomes aware of anything. At Viessmann, they are currently developing the workflow to respond quickly and correctly to any fault reports. This should prevent any heating or air-conditioning system from failing at all in future.

Other services are now also possible through networked technology. An custom interior climate, for instance. “If we know who uses which room in a building and when, we can generate the ideal climate for each room with intelligent technology”, said André. “This doesn’t just save users’ heating and cooling costs, it also does something against climate change as it saves a lot of CO2.”

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Andre Dörfer, Head of Digital Products, in the VC/o office

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