Philipp Descovich, Partium: How AI is revolutionising industrial spare parts search

Philipp Descovich, Partium: How AI is revolutionising industrial spare parts search
© Partium

In an exclusive interview, Partium CEO Philipp Descovich explains how Partium's lightning-fast technology, developed in partnership with Deutsche Bahn, not only streamlines parts identification but also addresses labour shortages in maintenance, making it the solution to real-world industrial challenges.

RM: Could you explain the core products or services that Partium offers?

Philipp Descovich: Partium is a lightning-fast and reliable AI part search experience for everyone looking for spare parts. It handles millions of spare parts searches every month and helps countless users find the right part to get the job done.

Partium supports experienced and less-experienced personnel to find parts and their part number faster. It also helps with knowledge management and process optimization.

RM: Could you elaborate on the specific industries or businesses Partium aims to serve?

Philipp Descovich: We support customers who operate large technical infrastructures like train repair facilities, large energy plants or mining operations. And we also have customers who deliver products to those organizations and want to provide them a good search experience when a spare part is needed. 

Overall Partium was built for industrial organizations. For the people who make our real-world run – the people who maintain the trains we take, the farmers in the fields, the people who build cars or large machines, energy providers,...

RM: In your experience, what challenges or needs in these industries drove the development of Partium's solution?

Philipp Descovich: Due to the sheer size of those environments with hundreds of thousands of parts, searching for the exact ID of a part can be really time consuming for the maintenance technicians or the warehouse personnel. 

The issue behind this more technical problem is that of course skilled technicians are today a rare good. And having them search for parts for hours is not a good use of their time. 

So, in the end, our customers also try to bridge parts of their labor shortage gap with our technology.

RM: What sets Partium's products apart in the market?

Philipp Descovich: While there are many AI technologies out there that can help you find sneakers or dog pictures, Partium is the only search technology purely built from the beginning for industrial environments. With all their challenges like dirt, completely destroyed parts and of course the underlying complexity of sometimes hundreds of very similar looking parts. 

One other key aspect is that our technology works even if your data is weak. No images? No problem. Only basic information available about a part? We cover that too with our AI-based data enrichment capabilities.

Overall, our technology works in the real industrial world. Not just in a lab with a small sample of parts. That´s the difference.

RM: How is Partium leveraging new technologies or innovations in its products and solutions? Are there any recent technological advancements that have significantly impacted Partium's offerings?

Philipp Descovich: Of course, we have been using AI technologies for visual identification for a long time. Also, the combination of different inputs (text, codes, bill of material, photos) is interpreted by AI. 

The latest advancements of LLM (Large Language Model) technologies are now opening up completely new possibilities in the area of data enrichment, extended filtering, and search in general. It is amazing what´s possible, and how fast those advancements improve.

RM: Can you provide a brief overview of Partium and its collaboration with Deutsche Bahn? 

Philipp Descovich: DB was looking for a digital & mobile solution to find and locate replacement parts and components faster. The main goal was to reduce the average search time per part from about 15-20 minutes (average ... some parts being known and found immediately. But for others the technicians needed to access documentation, call colleagues, sometimes even vendors).

It all started with the project for DB Fernverkehr (Long-Haul). Because of the huge success success and user adoption in the field, DB Cargo, DB Regio (Commuter trains), DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung (Engine maintenance) and the DB Netz (Network) machine pool joined very fast. Partium is now the de-facto standard part search technology in basically all of Deutsche Bahn´s repair and maintenance environments

User satisfaction is high. It is simple to use, it works well. Search times are down to 15 seconds on average.

RM: How has the collaboration with Deutsche Bahn influenced the development or enhancement of Partium's products?

Philipp Descovich: Without partners like Deutsche Bahn, we would not have been able to build the product we built. Think of the invaluable feedback from the users in the field. The requirements in terms of security and operations of a large and system-critical organization. And in general, the constant flow of ideas and new business cases where the technology could also be used. That´s what allows a software team to build something that is really useful. 

Deutsche Bahn was and is one of those customers who helped us build Partium. Without Deutsche Bahn we would not have the success in the market we currently have. 

RM: Can you share any success stories or notable achievements resulting from this partnership?

Philipp Descovich: The yearly ROI of the investment of Deutsche Bahn in Partium is substantially higher than the original assumption. And for us, having Deutsche Bahn as a reference is invaluable.

But for me, the real success story happens every day. It´s when I see the number of searches that are done with Partium at Deutsche Bahn. And when I then think that with each of those searches, we saved a technician 15 minutes of his or her time.

What are the company's future plans and strategic directions, especially in light of the evolving rail industry?

Philipp Descovich: At Partium we believe that AI technology opens a window to substantially reduce the complexity and the problems that exist today in the world of industrial spare parts.

We believe that Partium, as the leader in the area of industrial part search, can completely change the way people search and buy spare parts.

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