The megatrends of digitalization, individualization and climate protection are the key drivers of industrial change in our times. The industrial transformation unfolding around us is moving at great speed and is immensely disruptive. It is bringing radical change to industrial communication, product development, production and logistics, and this in turn is driving demand-side behavior, with industrial customers now facing very different needs and challenges than only a few years ago.
The lead theme “Industrial Transformation” describes the effects that the megatrends of individualization, climate protection and − more particularly − digitization are having on industry.
We are in the midst of a transformation that encompasses all stages of the industrial value chain. That’s design, development, production, logistics, energy supply and related services – everything. This has major implications for the demand behavior of manufacturers as buyers of capital plant and equipment.
Increasingly, CEOs, production, logistics and supply chain managers, design and development engineers and energy managers are defining their individual requirements and sifting through the wide array of products, tools, components, integrated systems and cooperation partners on the market. They then carefully select the ones that will help them boost the competitiveness of their organizations and sustainably grow and develop their business models.
Digitalization, the defining megatrend of our age, has many forms, most notably integration, data analytics, the Internet of Things, platforms and artificial intelligence. And survival in today’s competitive global environment means seizing the many opportunities it offers. The benefits are immense: major gains in the speed and efficiency of product design, development, production and distribution. At the same time, the data that makes all this possible is morphing into a key commodity in its own right. Intelligently collected, analyzed and used, it can help generate new lines of business and strengthen relationships with customers.
Manufacturers are increasingly moving towards mass customization in order to meet growing demand for individualized products. They need the flexibility to reconfigure their design, development and production processes to the requirements of individual end-customers and are looking upstream to manufacturers of capital plant and machinery for the flexible, customizable products and solutions they need in order to make it happen. Individualization is modernizing and reshaping entire production processes and, indeed, the entire industrial landscape. The challenge, of course, is to individualize without sacrificing profitability.
Faced with climate change and the mounting political and social pressure that goes with it, manufacturers are shouldering their responsibilities and moving towards carbon-neutral production. For manufacturers, environmentally friendly production is becoming a key competitive factor, because conserving energy and resources is about so much more than just saving money.
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