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These days, the value of a car or machine is less and less determined by hardware and software alone. Digital services, based on networked operating data, complement the classic business models in the automotive and mechanical engineering sectors. As a supplier to these industries, Schaeffler not only reacts to this trend, but also thinks ahead, as evidenced by its “Digital Agenda” adopted last year, which is an integral part of the “Agenda 4 plus One”. Thus, the company plays an active role in shaping the future.
Cars alert each other to hazards. Wind turbines schedule necessary maintenance outside of windy seasons. Machine tools determine the order in which workpieces are processed so that the tools don’t have to be changed as frequently. The Internet of Things is making massive inroads into the world of technology. It enables new data-driven business models. With its “Digital Agenda”, Schaeffler is specifically expanding those pillars on which these business models are based:
Products & Services: Data don’t simply appear, they must be generated. Whether city vehicles, high-speed trains or wind turbines, Schaeffler’s mechatronic products are already in place wherever something moves. Fitted with sensors, electronics and actuators, bearings and other drive components provide the information required for big-data analysis and business models based on networking.
Machines & Processes: The digital networking of production facilities along the entire value chain is one of the most important goals of Industry 4.0. Schaeffler sees itself not only as a supplier for smart factories, but also implements new technologies at an early stage in its own volume production. The goal of being able to respond more quickly and flexibly to current developments in a rapidly changing world is a key motivation for Schaeffler to digitize its processes in all corporate areas. In the future, the company will therefore digitally map the entire product life cycle, from the initial idea to a new product, and from digital production planning to sales management.
Analyses & Simulation: Knowing at the development stage under exactly which conditions a product will later be used – that’s what every engineer dreams of. Schaeffler is significantly increasing its competitiveness by leveraging real operating data to test innovations before the first prototype is even built, and making such data available throughout the product’s lifecycle.
User Experience & Customer Value: Acceptance of digital services on the part of customers and employees depends not only on the quality of data provided, but also on user-friendly operator interfaces. Smartphones and tablet PCs are becoming more and more important in professional applications. Schaeffler is working to expand its expertise in the optimal design of man-machine interaction.
Schaeffler laid the essential foundations in 2016 to ensure that these strategic pillars can be developed in such a way that they enable real growth in the future. On one hand, this required the development of a digital platform that provides the basis for big data analyses as the central data hub. Our partnership with IBM goes even beyond this. Schaeffler and IBM are working together to apply innovative methods, such as artificial intelligence, to our products and processes. On the other hand, in a digitally networked world, Schaeffler is more dependent than ever on the creativity of individuals. With a host of exciting tasks available in an industrial environment, Schaeffler ranks high as an attractive employer for digital talents.
The “Digital Agenda” is a Group-wide initiative that is supported by the Executive Board and will continue to be vigorously advanced at Schaeffler in 2017. After all, the best thing a company can do in times of change is to actively drive it forward – just as the Schaeffler employees portrayed on the following pages do in their day-to-day work.