Car industry needs to change and collaborate more to keep up with rapid speed of change

Recent studies published by PwC and McKinsey put focus on the new challenges in the automotive industry. Over the last couple of years, we have seen big changes in the way automotive companies collaborate and seek new ways to make business more profitable.

Technical content in cars has increased dramatically over the last 5 to 10 years. Today’s automotive OEMs must master not only safety, fuel economy, attractive vehicle design and speed to market but also the explosion of new software, sensors and systems. A car today is not only a mean of transportation; it is also a communication and entertainment platform. Time to market and volume is of essence. Not to mention quality, safety and environmental regulations.

All of the above calls for new ways to innovate and collaborate around engineering data.
So, what are the key trends, and how can automotive companies prepare to meet these challenges?

According to the report from PwC – 2017 Automotive Trends * three important actions to take are:
1. Share platforms and Manufacturing
2. Offload more development work to technology suppliers
3. Redesign distribution models

The first two actions pose new challenges in the form of sharing of engineering information across company boarders. Should the exact same IT systems be used in the whole network? Is that even possible and does it make sense from a cost viewpoint?

Can the OEM have suppliers inside their internal systems and what are the security issues? Who owns the intellectual property? What about training in SW tools and processes?

McKinsey point out similar trends in their report ** The road to 2020 and beyond – What’s driving the global automotive industry? They have also identified sharing and cooperation as important trends in the coming years.

  • Complexity and cost pressure. There will be more platform sharing and more modular systems. At the same time, regulatory pressures will tighten, and prices in established markets are likely to be flat.
  • Suppliers will add more value in alternative powertrain technologies and in innovative solutions for active safety and infotainment.
  • How can we expand by cooperating with other OEMs or local players?

We see these driving forces for cooperation and collaboration throughout the automotive industry. Platform sharing is growing and we can see successful examples with companies like Geely and their platform development company CEVT. CEVT’s recent development of the CMA and SPA platforms is now delivering the first derivatives for both Volvo Cars and Lynk & Co.

In the Groupe Renault Alliance, Nissan, Daimler and Mitsubishi has agreed to share both vehicle design platforms and manufacturing sites. This will call for strong collaboration tools and processes to keep up speed and security in a heterogeneous application environment.

All the above is great for us and we have all reasons to believe we can help out. At Eurostep, we have developed the standards based software ShareAspace InReach to meet and address the specific needs of collaboration for the automotive and other industries.

The key features to successfully address the challenges above are:
A collaboration software that acts like a Hub to make sure:
1. You only share the information needed for the collaboration
2. Projects can start and stop quickly – partners join and leave as needed
3. All partners continue to use their in-house software and processes
4. Security can be added to the project for trust and IP protection

A software based on an open and rich information model to:
1. Ensure that you are not locked into one the format of a software vendor
2. Make sure your collaboration information can be mapped to your needs
3. Allow sharing of any engineering data, not just CAD

A software that empower the collaboration and:
1. Is process and task driven
2. Has effective messaging boards and reporting tools
3. Has strong notification capabilities
4. Scales with project needs
5. Easily connects to existing information sources like Systems Engineering, CAD, PLM, ERP, CM and Aftermarket systems

* PwC – 2017 Automotive Trends
** McKinsey – The road to 2020 and beyond – What’s driving the global automotive industry?