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25. 10. 2018

Digitalisation pays off. But it also pays off to prepare for it.

Pilsen, October 25th, 2018 

Is digitalisation truly a benefit, or just a necessary evil? The 2018 Trends in Automotive Logistics (TAL) conference delivered a clear answer: Digitalisation pays off. But it must be preceded by thorough preparation. It also showed that technologies are constantly becoming simpler and more available, and the market eliminates the firms that don’t innovate. On October 10th in Pilsen, domestic and international speakers described how to prepare for the rise of new generations – and for the first steps in digitalisation. For what is now the nineteenth time, Aimtec joined up with IHK Regensburg – the chamber of commerce and industry for the Upper Palatinate and Kelheim regions in Bavaria, Germany – to organise TAL.

This year’s choice of trends in automotive logistics was focused on a single question – “The Digital Factory: Pain or Gain?” The nearly 200 participants – who came from not only manufacturing and logistics firms, but also consultancies and professional associations – could attend presentations on the latest technologies as well as on specific case studies. The morning programme opened up with Paul Norford from Zebra Technologies, who presented his view on how the upcoming generation is changing our world. They are the minds that have been shaped by a world full of technology, that have never been without smart phones and TVs, that perceive technology as a part of life. Naturally, companies also have to react to this: to survive, they must innovate in their products and business models.


Philipp Zimmermann from Franka Emika emphasised the new generation as well. This German start-up develops safe and affordable collaborative robots. Even schoolchildren can program these machines. That’s an enormous change compared to today’s situation, where integrating industrial robots is very complex. A shift like this (from industrial robots that people can’t work near, to robots that are cooperative and accessible) will mean a major shift in industry and in daily life. It will let people pursue more sophisticated activities and leave the simple ones to machines.


The morning block was rounded out by Matthias Pröller from ZF, who presented the integration of elements from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) into both logistics processes and complex infrastructure with the cloud on one side and SAP EWM on the other. Openmatics, ZF’s telematics subsidiary, has developed small IIoT tags that enable simpler and faster communication between e.g. warehousing and production. These devices are proof that even physically tiny tools can help a factory to become smarter and more flexible.


The conference’s afternoon block was devoted to case studies. Representatives of IAC Group, RINGFEDER and Panasonic Automotive Systems presented their experiences with deploying new systems. They’ve each faced different challenges. The IAC Group was facing a new project and the need to provide JIS deliveries of complex interior parts. Producing such parts with a fast takt time is a process that must be managed properly. Although RINGFEDER isn’t an automotive supplier, they too have to deliver their products at precisely defined times. Meanwhile, they needed to digitalise their warehouse within SAP. And Martin Hana showed us the traps that await in this kind of process. Veronika Rejmanová from Panasonic Automotive Systems presented the change process that Panasonic underwent in their production planning. They faced the need not only to plan a large number of manufacturing operations, but also to do it with multiple planners working simultaneously. The day’s final presentation was a collaboration between Sewio and Aimtec. They presented a technology for tracking objects inside of buildings. It helps firms to eliminate position-scanning tasks, optimise their fleet’s hall movements and more. Michael Klaus (Sewio) and Rostislav Schwob (Aimtec) explained its benefits.


With such a wide rainbow of presentations, was there any point that every speaker still touched upon? Yes – not just one, but two. The first is that, no matter what its type or scope, digitalisation must be preceded by thorough preparation – of both the final processes and the actual deployment of the new technologies and systems. The second shared conclusion was that digitalisation is always about people. It’s important to prepare them for changes and give them time to adapt to what’s new. After all, new technologies and systems are here to make their (our!) lives easier. And when preparations are proper and thorough and the right solutions are chosen, they do.


The Trends in Automotive Logistics (TAL) conference is organised by Aimtec in cooperation with IHK Regensburg. This year’s professional partners were Lintech and Zebra, while Desseq, Fanuc, Openmatics a Mechatronik Kompetenz-Netzwerk were its partners.


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