Ford F-150 and BMW i8 win 2014 Innovation Vehicle Of The Year Awards
The Motor Press Guild (MPG), the largest automotive media association in North America, announced two winners of its 2014 Innovation Vehicle of the Year (IVY) Award, with the 2015 Ford F-150 winning the under $30,000 class and 2014 BMW i8 taking the award for the $30,000 and over category. The announcement was made Wednesday during the LA Auto Show's MPG Motoring Invitational.
An expert panel of judges evaluated all nominated vehicles and selected a group of 13 finalists. Those vehicles were then voted on by MPG's journalist and analyst members, who determined the winners by evaluating each car on innovation, technology, engineering, safety, environmental impact, price, affordability and value.
To aid voters in their final decisions, MPG partnered with AutoHarvest to supply third-party information about the advanced technologies incorporated into the finalist vehicles.
Under $30,000 Winner: 2015 Ford F-150
According to John Dinkel, MPG's IVY Awards Chairperson, the all-new 2015 F-150 sets up an enormous risk-reward scenario for Ford, as the brand introduces its first all-aluminum bodied model. By using aluminum, the F-150 saves up to 700 pounds of weight, giving the truck advantages in fuel economy, acceleration, braking and a higher towing and hauling capacity.
There are also synergistic weight reductions in powertrain and chassis components and customer concerns with strength, ruggedness and repair-ability have been addressed via high-strength, dent and ding resistant, aerospace-grade, aluminum alloys.
“All these risks-rewards are focused on one word—aluminum—and Ford's decision to become the first automaker to use significant amounts of this lightweight material in high-volume production is a gamble,” said Dinkel. “Huge as manufacturing delays could cost Ford its truck sales leadership. Then again, if everything aligns, Ford will become the world leader in the use of aluminum in automobiles. This truck is a game changer.”
Over $30,000 Winner: 2014 BMW i8
High performance and high efficiency are not often used as descriptors of the same car, but MPG members agree the BMW's i8 sports car is a notable exception. BMW's first plug-in hybrid sports car features a powerful electric motor driving the front wheels combined with a turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder gasoline engine connected to the rear wheels. MPG members were impressed with the car's drivetrain combination, which powers the i8 from rest to 60 mph in around 4.3 seconds and to a top speed (electronically limited) of 156 mph. In either of its two pure EV modes, the i8 can be driven about 23 miles before the IC engine kicks in.
“The i8 also boasts an extensive use of recycled, renewable raw and naturally treated materials, further exemplifying the innovation, environmental impact and enhanced engineering principles of the IVY award,” said Dinkel.
Furthermore, to compensate for the extra weight of the batteries and electric motor, the i8's passenger compartment is made of carbon fiber, making BMW's i models the first high-production vehicles to make such substantial use of this high-tech material.
“On behalf of all MPG members, I'd like to congratulate Ford and BMW on their IVY awards,” said MPG President Joni Gray. “We had an exceptional group of entries this year, but MPG's journalist and analyst members agreed that these two vehicles represent the year's best in technology, safety and innovation.”
The MPG Motoring Invitational was an exclusive morning event that featured nearly 50 unique, historic and significant vehicles and celebrated all aspects of the car hobby, bringing together some of the most interesting automobiles from influential icons, tastemakers, luminaries, collectors and celebrities for Press & Trade Day attendees to enjoy.
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.