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CATI presentation at the innteract conference 2015

Industry 4.0 – automotive industry also facing upheaval
CATI presentation at this year’s innteract conference at TU Chemnitz

The German automotive industry is internationally competitive at the highest level. This success is crucially based on its technical ability to continuously develop and implement product and process innovations. Industry 4.0 is now posing a challenge which goes beyond purely technical aspects, and the automotive industry will have to adapt.

‘Industry 4.0 draws its design potential from data and information which can be captured, processed and made available in real time. This intelligent networking creates the potential to transform individual processes, process chains and entire business process. This is the challenge we are facing’, according to Prof. Werner Olle of the Chemnitz Automotive Institute (CATI) at the innteract conference in early May.

Current efficiency programmes are reaching their limits

Shorter life cycles for vehicle models, narrowing vehicle segments, lower numbers of pieces per model, increasing product complexity, more product launches, rapidly growing globalisation – these are just some of the challenges to which automotive manufacturers are having to react with current strategies to boost their efficiency.

At heart, this is about two complementary strategies:

  • Achieving economies of scale
    These economies of scale can no longer be achieved by increasing the number of pieces in a complete vehicle, but rather by standardising components as part of modular and platform strategies.
  • Achieving economies of scope
    OEMs are continually reducing their vertical range of manufacture and have now transferred up to 75% of automotive value creation to suppliers.

The key to both strategies is product modularisation, further developed in modular process, infrastructure and factory modules.

This potential has not yet been fully exhausted, but is increasingly reaching its limit.

Industry 4.0 in products, production and business processes

Networking, connectivity, digitisation – these are the key terms for the automotive industry and form part of a future vision of industry 4.0. This new world affects the product, its production and the entire business process (see diagram).

  • Product: this challenge has been intensively addressed by all manufacturers and system suppliers, who are also coming up against competitors from other sectors.
  • Production: the focus here is primarily on further automation (incl. new human-robot collaborations) and on networking machinery and systems. External networking in terms of mutual transparency between manufacturers, suppliers and service providers is still considered a breach of taboo.
    Integrative networking within factories – across production areas, integrating manufacturing support services from quality assurance to logistics in real time – is still in its early stages.
  • • Business processes: the potential of industry 4.0 has not yet reached this area: for example, development and ordering processes are run as they always were.

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Industry 4.0 enables economies of community

‘What we need to seize is the potential that real-time data and online transparency can create for corporate success. We can decentralise management approaches and responsibilities in the factory, we can create transparency in internal and external value chains, we can generate open and globalised innovation processes, we can facilitate the age-old desire for lifelong learning on new, customisable, medial platforms, and much more. As a result, we achieve efficiency benefits in terms of resources, speed and flexibility through what we call economies of community’, according to Prof. Olle.

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Prof. Olle at the innteract conference 2015