AI, Machine Manufacturing & Software in Service – Interview with MARKT-PILOT founder, Tobias Rieker

Interview with MARKT-PILOT founder, Tobias Rieker: Software, Artificial Intelligence and Service in Mechanical Engineering.

Spare parts pricing and machine manufacturing - these are the  two pillars of Tobias Rieker's career. Starting out on a conservative path as an industrial sales apprentice in the service department of a mid-sized machine manufacturer, he then went on to work as a parts pricing manager and completed his studies in engineering and international business. Manual price research for spare parts was a permanent companion, as was the understanding that a digital solution was required to generate valid and accurate data and efficiently utilize the full potential of the business. Founding MARKT-PILOT, Tobias created the first AI-powered software for automated price research and thereby introduced the solution for market-based parts pricing.  


How would you describe parts pricing in machine manufacturing? 

Time-consuming, manual, and in total in urgent need of optimization. Most companies have their primary focus set on costs rather than the market and don't recognize the importance of market intelligence and decision-making on actual data, rather than standard margins. Considering how much revenue is generated without optimized pricing and how relevant the after sales is for machine manufacturers, a lot of potential is wasted here. 


What was the incentive to found MARKT-PILOT?  

When I worked as a pricing manager and was responsible for analyzing parts prices at various machine manufacturing companies, I had to research every piece of price information manually on the internet. That was extremely time-consuming and did not match the size of the market or the importance of the spare parts sector. There is huge potential behind spare parts pricing, which few machine manufacturers know about and use, yet it has enormous added value and great relevance for these companies. 


What motivated the founding of MARKT-PILOT?

I never thought I would be the one to found the company. In the end, the customers made me do it. On top of that, my boss at the time strongly supported me and drove the idea forward - and by the way, today he works for MARKT-PILOT himself. He showed me how much additional profit the company we both worked for at the time made through my manual price research - more than two million euros of increased contribution margins in less than two years. After experiencing the impact of market price research on spare parts pricing and seeing the need, I had no other choice.  

Any type of research and market information on parts prices is an important step by itself. However, together with Amin Oumhamdi, I then asked myself: How can we carry out a fully automated search for prices? As a result, we developed the first prototype of today's PRICERADAR and founded MARKT-PILOT in April 2020. 


How does the PRICERADAR work? 

PRICERADAR is a software that automatically researches and gathers data on prices, delivery times and availability of all purchased parts on the market out of several thousand sources. This automated data research is unrivaled to date, and creates total market intelligence, not only for the DACH market, but also for markets worldwide. In practice, the software researches prices and delivery times of a company's spare parts portfolio and identifies potentials: for which parts can the market share be increased, which prices are too expensive or too cheap, or for which parts is there no or hardly any competition? The AI-based software can be used as a web app and has learned from machine manufacturing data for several years. Mechanical engineering companies thus have a sound database on prices and delivery times for each individual spare part and consequently an overview of current market developments. 


"In the end, the need from customers forced me to found


How do customers benefit from a cooperation with MARKT-PILOT?  

We are creating full market insight for the first time and shed light on the often overlooked spare parts market. Where machine manufacturers previously calculated on a strictly cost-oriented basis, we now provide a solid data basis. This enables us to provide a fundamentally new and optimized method of intelligent price alignment for spare parts. Competitive prices adapted to the market not only sustainably increase revenue and margin, but also customer satisfaction and loyalty. Above all, AI also ensures that the market information collected matches the customer data. 


The launch of MARKT-PILOT coincided with the first COVID-19 lockdown: What effect did this timing have on the startup?  

The timing was surprisingly quite fortunate for us. The pandemic led to increased acceptance for digital solutions as they were needed more and more and urgently in many sectors, which of course played into our hands. The fact that our solution is focused on spare parts was also very fortunate in that regard. During these lockdowns, customers of engineering companies invested less in new machinery and relied more on repairing existing machines - for which of course they needed spare parts. Despite the onset of the pandemic during our launch, we embraced a "now more than ever" mindset, rather than letting it hinder our progress. 


What are three areas, outside of machine manufacturing, that you think would benefit most from adopting digital solutions?  

Personally, I would incorporate digital education into the educational system and go beyond standard computer science lessons. More generally, I would drive the expansion of digital infrastructures and utilize the potential of digital transformation to protect the environment. 


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