German automotive industry creates sector-spanning digital platform

German automotive industry creates sector-spanning digital platform

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

With the Catena-X initiative, in which numerous companies along the automotive value chain are participating, the industry intends to improve supply security, process any recalls more quickly and, more generally, advance digitalisation.

The initiative focuses on two central fields of action in which the German automotive industry wants to underpin its leading position on the global market through the cooperative use of data and AI: system competence in autonomous driving and the digitalisation of value creation across all suppliers. BMW CEO Oliver Zipse and his colleague from Daimler, Ola Källenius, presented the “Catena-X Automotive Network” initiative on Tuesday, which numerous companies have now joined. The aim is to build a collaborative and open data network that will revolutionise automotive production in Germany and Europe. According to the industry leaders, this is a prerequisite for creating new digital and competitive solutions for more sustainability, flexibility and resilience.

As an implementation-oriented network and to ensure openness and neutrality, Catena-X plans to organise itself as a registered association. The initiative sees itself as an expandable ecosystem in which automotive manufacturers and suppliers and equipment suppliers, which include application, platform and infrastructure providers, can equally participate. The goal is to create a uniform standard for data and information flows throughout the automotive value chain.

Through standardised information and data availability, the participating companies hope to increase the competitiveness of the automotive industry, improve efficiency in industry-specific cooperation and accelerate company processes across the board. A particular focus will also be on SMEs, whose active participation is of central importance for the success of the network. Catena-X is therefore conceived from the outset as an open network with “SME-ready” solutions, in which these are to participate quickly and with low IT infrastructure investments.

In addition, existing structures of the European vehicle industry are to be integrated into the network and further optimised, such as processes in the area of parts logistics. In addition to efficiency advantages in the supply chain, the participants in the network expect, for example, more efficient quality and logistics processes or higher transparency with regard to sustainable CO2 reduction. Continuously connected data chains in this way make it possible to create digital twins of automobiles, on the basis of which innovative business processes and service offers can be developed.

With the International Data Spaces (IDS) standard for data sovereignty, which will also be part of the European cloud data infrastructure GAIA-X, the participating companies have already agreed on essential infrastructure foundations for project implementation.

In the first step, five application areas were jointly defined that can make a significant contribution to increasing productivity and higher sustainability along future value chains with the help of a networked data infrastructure: Quality management, logistics, maintenance, supply chain management and sustainability. These are the areas on which Catena-X is focusing its pilot projects. In addition, applications supporting production and development are planned.

The list of participants in Catena-X reads like a Who’s Who of German industry: Founded by BMW, Bosch, Deutsche Telekom, the software manufacturer SAP, Siemens and ZF Friedrichshafen, Mercedes-Benz, Schaeffler, the German Aerospace Centre and the Fraunhofer companies will also participate in the initiative, along with other companies.

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