Volkswagen has revealed its plans to build an alliance with Ford
The automotive industry is facing challenges on an unprecedented scale. Witnessing ongoing demands for electric, hybrid and self-driving vehicles, stri...
The automotive industry is facing challenges on an unprecedented scale. Witnessing ongoing demands for electric, hybrid and self-driving vehicles, stricter emissions rules and higher tariffs, the US automotive industry has seen the rise of tech players, such as Google and Amazon further ramp up the competition. It is becoming increasingly difficult for automotive companies to go it alone, where leaders have now sought to collaborate to drive increased efficiency and enable significant business growth.
Presently, Volkswagen (VW) and Ford have an agreement in place to collaborate on the development of commercial vehicles. However, VW CEO Herbert Diess has revealed that the company is looking to increasingly work with Ford to further “strengthen the American automotive industry,” where Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr informed reporters that talks regarding an alliance are going “very well.”
Volkswagen is set to build a new plant in the US which will build both VW and Audi motors, which will complement its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
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An alliance between both companies makes sense, where both parties can mutually benefit. Whilst Ford plans to spend more than US$10bn on new technologies to take the business to a new age, where its strengths remain in the sales of its trucks and SUV’s.
Investing €44bn (US$50bn) in autonomous driving and mobility solutions, Volkswagen will therefore support its operations in areas of which Ford has low sales, such as China where it holds close to 15% of vehicle sales. "Ford is very strong in the US; we are strong in other markets," confirmed Diess.
"Volkswagen expects significant synergy effects from the potential to lower costs or increase performance via scales. Ford and Volkswagen will nevertheless remain competitors, as the proposed cooperation does in no way concern commercial, marketing or pricing strategies,” reported Forbes.
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.