Radical and disruptive innovations for future lifting solutions

Philipp Smole


Together with 3DSE we have developed a customized framework for PALFINGER 21st that promotes  radical and disruptive innovation in an agile environment .


Philipp Smole, Executive Vice President of the PALFINGER 21st Corporate Incubator
Palfinger AG

Founded in 1932, PALFINGER is known around the world for supplying the most innovative, reliable and efficient lifting solutions for use with commercial vehicles and in maritime applications. In 2018, the company employed 10,780 people and recorded revenue of approximately EUR 1,615.6 million.

Along with boosting flexibility, the three pillars of the corporate strategy include promoting innovation and making products, processes and services more international. To meet the challenges and seize the opportunities associated with the digital transformation in a focused manner, the proven corporate strategy has been expanded to include a fourth pillar. Known as PALFINGER 21st, this pillar incorporates new core areas of expertise, new approaches and new products, services and business models for the digital age.

To enable the development of radical and disruptive technologies, products and solutions in the PALFINGER 21st innovation incubator, 3DSE provided methodological support and content input for the development of the PALFINGER 21st strategy and assisted with the creation and implementation of an innovation framework. A targeted interface with PALFINGER’s core organization – while maintaining a healthy distance – enables both organic and inorganic innovation.

The PALFINGER 21st innovation framework offers a clearly structured yet flexible process for effectively generating ideas and putting them into practice in a secure environment. Specific metrics for innovation governance ensures the efficiency of this framework.

In the Strategy Radar, areas of innovation are defined in a manner designed to ensure innovations are aligned with future requirements. The Innovation Think Tank, which is part of the Strategy Radar, serves as a platform for the transfer of knowledge within the company’s global innovation network and is a means for ensuring that relevant use case areas and future areas of innovation can be identified. This is supplemented by analyses of global technology, market, customer and socioeconomic trends and their effects in order to create an innovation thesis and define innovation fields.

Subsequently, ideas are generated, shaped and developed to validated business models in the Innovation Engine. Here, we make use of effective methods for generating ideas (e.g. hackathons, idea challenges, innovation cells, design thinking, etc.), developing business models and validating concepts through the development of MVPs (minimum viable products), whereby we incorporate customers into the framework at an early stage of the Innovation Engine and perform due diligence.

A global network of accelerators, startups and research institutes ensures the necessary additional input of ideas and potential solutions. The establishment of a powerful team with creative minds as well as individuals who are not afraid to put ideas into practice ensures the effective realization of the ideas from the innovation framework. The installation of a Base Camp creates the room needed for innovation, a space where the innovation network can interact and develop innovations together. This also promotes the company’s specific culture of innovation and offers employees the opportunity to become part of radical and disruptive innovation.

“Extensive and results-driven cooperation on the creation of content in workshops attended by the PALFINGER 21st core team and representatives from 3DSE enabled us to develop a customized framework as well as a strategy map for the next five years,”, states Philipp Smole, Executive Vice President of the PALFINGER 21st Corporate Incubator. “The Executive Board and our key stakeholders also fully agreed on the customized framework and the strategy map. Ultimately, we also know we can rely on 3DSE to set the right priorities for the implementation process.”

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