Toyota and Panasonic reportedly partner to produce batteries for electric vehicles
Toyota Motor Corporation and Panasonic are reportedly set to announce a joint venture and join the growing electric vehicle (EV) market. The duo will produce batteries for such new innovations, which will be fully launched in 2020. At present, more than 50% of the world’s lithium-ion batteries are produced in China, leading the two companies to compete with strong Chinese players for increased market share.
The venture will be 51% owned by Toyota and 49% by Panasonic. Up to five Panasonic manufacturing facilities will be integrated into the partnership to ramp up production figures, bolster their joint positions in the market and enable both businesses to lower cost and ensure scalability. It also expands on a prior agreement to develop batteries for a number of Toyota and Panasonic hybrid vehicles.
- Bosch granted approval to test autonomous driving tech in Victoria, Australia
- Lotus cars are set to be manufactured outside the UK
- Carbon and Ford partner to digitally manufacture new parts
The duo will aim to supply Mazda Motor, as well as Daihatsu Motor and Subaru. At present, Panasonic supplies lithium-ion batteries for the Prius Prime hybrid model, and is the exclusive battery cell supplier for Tesla’s vehicles. However, this is set to change, where founder Elon Musk has admitted that the business will soon look to source its batteries from other companies, including Panasonic. The deal with Toyota will remain separate to this.
As part of the deal, Panasonic will aim to relocate its prismatic battery-related facilities in Japan and China, which will feed into Toyota’s aim to sell approximately one million electric vehicles in 2030.
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.