Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads…

April 3, 2017

Whilst we are unlikely to see fusion-powered vehicles in our skies anytime soon, the fact remains that the automotive manufacturing industry is facing a huge upheaval over the next few decades, as the pace of technological change accelerates and sustainability pressures bite.

A game of numbers
Already we are seeing automation transform the manufacturing process, according to the International Federation of Robots (IFR) the countries with the highest number of robots per 10,000 head of population are South Korea with 347 and Germany with 261, at the last count the UK are still playing catch-up with a more modest 100/10,000 robots to people.

There are real positives for our economy and society through this change: the reality is that the aspirations of a new generation of school leavers extend beyond repetitive tasks that can be easily done by a machine. In the UK the number of yearly installations are set to grow by 40% through 2018, in comparison to France (15.6%) and Germany (20%). Machine manufacturers are playing an important part in this growth and are now developing new automation solutions to help drive this process forward enabling UK OEMs and their subcontractors to narrow the competitive gap.

Navigating the future
Although we are unlikely any time soon to see autonomous vehicles cruising our streets (recent publicity notwithstanding), intelligent vehicles with advanced driver-assistance systems such as self-braking, self-parking, automatic cruise control and accident-avoidance features are already here, with further developments very much in the pipeline.

Connectivity is also hugely important for today’s drivers. Thus, technology companies are widely predicted to have a significant influence on the way automotive manufacturing and supply changes, as they race to dominate the marketplace, with new partnerships emerging and software increasingly a differentiating factor.

Revolution not evolution
Under fire from environmentalists and consumers alike and with stricter fuel economy regulations set to emerge, manufacturers must also realise a step-change in introducing alternative power sources and vehicle technologies

Transforming power technologies
Not since Carl Benz began the first commercial production of motor vehicles with the internal combustion engine in 1886, has the automotive industry seen such a dramatic leap in power technology. Electrified vehicles are predicted to account for between 10-15% of new vehicles by 2030. The race to electrification will be driven in part by consumer acceptance and the wider availability of a charging infrastructure.

Meanwhile, while traditional powertrain models continue to evolve, internal combustion engines will continue to remain relevant well beyond this date, with hybrid solutions very much part of the mix for electrified vehicles moving forward.

Back to the future….
While the prospects of an exciting future beckon, OEMs and subcontractors face uncertain times ahead. As solutions providers, we are working hard with our principals to develop new approaches to support our customers as they consolidate their position in the new landscape created by emerging technologies and explore new opportunities.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing you? Join the debate.

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About Richard Kingsbury

Richard is the Managing Director for Geo Kingsbury, providing innovative machining solutions from leading German brands, backed by expert advice and comprehensive support, to customers across all sectors from small subcontractors to some of industry’s most prestigious suppliers and OEM’s.

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