Mobina IT’s app helps manufacturing industry in Twente innovate 

They recently finished their first pilot and will soon present their innovation tool for the manufacturing industry on the stage of the Young Technology Award. Entrepreneurial student Marlène Hol, her boyfriend Jochem Verburg and her father René Hol are taking giant leaps with their company Mobina IT in a short period of time. “Our mission is to help the manufacturing industry innovate with the help of IT,” Marlène says. 

It is quite unusual to start a business with your father and your boyfriend before you have even finished your studies. “That’s true,” Marlène confirms. She will complete the Computer Science master’s programme at the University of Twente in 2018. “Still, it was a logical step for us and we work very well together.” 

Entrepreneurial student 

The idea for the business was born during a study project in 2015, for which René came up with an interesting proposal. Marlène: “We combined the latest scientific knowledge about business processes and IT with my father’s experience in the manufacturing industry at the cutting edge of businesses and IT. Initially, that resulted in a solution that helps organisations independently choose the right ERP system. We then expanded on that idea.” 

Innovation in the manufacturing industry 

Former consultant and co-owner René explains: “Major organisations have the ability to acquire knowledge, bring in consultants and thereby improve their processes. That is much more difficult to do for SMEs in the manufacturing industry. The culture of hiring knowledge does not exist to the same extent and using the services of a consultant is a costly affair.” Jochem, co-owner and almost finished with his master’s degree in Business Information Technology, adds: “Meanwhile, they feel pressure from the chain to improve their operations and they are faced with all manner of new developments, such as the Internet of Things and Big Data. Clients expect shorter delivery times, prices are under pressure and qualified professionals are hard to find.” 

Reference models and practical experience 

“We made our knowledge and experience available in a standardised manner in the form of reference models for various industrial sectors,” Jochem continues. “With that, we built a tool that points out and helps to realise process improvements and innovation opportunities in manufacturing organisations.” Jochem sees opportunities for a wide range of manufacturing organisations in Twente. “Think of, for example, machine producers, metal suppliers, plastic painters and kitchen manufacturers.” The team conducted a pilot at Broshuis in Kampen. Broshuis is a market leader in trailers for special transport. In order to maintain this position and continue the rapid growth of recent years, Broshuis needs to develop. Jochem: “A large group of employees from all layers of the organisation started using Mobina. The result is an ambitious improvement agenda and the preselection of a new ERP system. The organisation was able to translate its vision into a number of concrete, coherent projects and actions.” 

Team of experts and developers 

The knowledge within Mobina IT does not all come from the three founders. They collaborate with Hans Wortmann, professor at the University of Groningen and an expert in business information systems and innovation. Marc Droste, an experienced consultant, also contributes to the knowledge development at Mobina IT. Finally, a number of students work on the development and content of the software. 

How does it work? 

“Say your delivery time is a problem for your organisation and you wish to reduce it from six months to three months,” René describes. “Using our software, you examine your entire business process, from how you deal with clients to your planning and the organisation of your production. The software creates an overview of every step in the process and links these to reference models. The models serve as starting points for all kinds of suggestions. Together with some colleagues on the work floor, you share information about your part in the process. The software helps you determine whether the key lies with product design, the purchase of critical components, the planning or the way in which your production is organised. The product developer might change the product in such a way that the complex purchasing process becomes obsolete.” 

People and IT support each other on the work floor 

Why would you use a tool for that? “Project groups made up of employees often lack the knowledge to properly analyse processes,” René states. “Looking for improvement opportunities within your own department alone does not offer sufficient results. With our tool, it becomes far easier for the sales team to share information with, for example, the purchasing department. This, in turn, improves collaboration.” Marlène adds: “People often do not know where their colleagues’ challenges and opportunities lie. We make crosslinks that innovation management software cannot make. That is our unique strength. In this manner, people and IT support each other on the work floor.” 

Help with their own challenges 

The UT startup faces some challenges of its own. “At the start, Novel-T supported us with a Top Light arrangement,” Marlène says. “With it, we were able to continue our product development, handle legal affairs and set up our marketing campaign.” The team also received help with the positioning of their organisation from business developer Peter Langela and former Novel-T MT member Pieter Dillingh. “Our product is quite difficult to explain. It is best to see and experience it for yourself. The results of our pilot at Broshuis in Kampen are useful for our marketing.” René adds: “Novel-T supports us in our efforts to reach out to the manufacturing industry. Ultimately, we are striving towards the same goal: to help the manufacturing industry innovate.” 

You can read more about Mobina IT’s web app at mobina-it.com

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