The digital transformation of the auto parts industry continues to heat up

Whether it’s transmission, steering, chassis systems, or autonomous driving systems, design, production and usage data are all transmitted to the “cloud” in real time, and product design optimization, process improvement, and even sales strategy and management efficiency improvements also come from the “cloud”. “Data…This is the comprehensive digital solution of the multinational auto parts giant ZF, among which the “cloud” as the connection hub is cloud computing.

On November 16, ZF and Microsoft signed an agreement to invest billions of euros to realize ZF’s full digitalization. On the same day, Qualcomm announced that it is building a Snapdragon digital chassis and advancing digital cockpit solutions, and has reached cooperation with BMW and other auto companies on this. Continental recently launched a digital driving planner to help high-level autonomous driving… The digital transformation of the auto parts industry is continuing to heat up.

Industry transformation is imperative

As cars become more intelligent, connected, and electrified, more and more auto parts companies are pouring into the digital transformation track.

After ZF announced on November 4 that it had acquired digital technology related to smart driving, a Swiss startup technology company Bestmile, its partnership with Microsoft has attracted much attention. “The cooperation with Microsoft this time will further promote ZF’s digital transformation.” In the view of ZF CEO Wolfhanning Schaid, this can comprehensively improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the company.

“The digitalization of the auto and parts industry is gradually becoming a trend, and parts companies like ZF can get all-round improvements in the digitalization process.” Zhang Yuanjiang, a researcher at the Center for Collaborative Innovation in the Internet and Digital Economy of Shanghai University, told China Automobile News The reporter said that the main content includes the following aspects:

First, digitalization can receive and quickly process the massive data generated by cars equipped with ZF components in real time, so as to further optimize ZF’s autonomous driving, on-board computing and cloud computing, artificial intelligence and its traditional transmission, steering, and chassis systems. And other related technologies.

The second is to improve the design level, production efficiency, and equipment self-inspection and maintenance capabilities of parts companies in product applications. In the design of auto parts, companies can use big data to obtain the data generated by existing parts and products during automobile operation to optimize the design according to customer requirements, which can greatly reduce the design and development time of new products. In the manufacturing process, companies can also directly send design plans from the “cloud” to digital factories, workshops, and equipment for production. While greatly reducing labor intensity, they can also improve product processing accuracy and quality consistency, and continuous operation There will be errors or mistakes caused by manual work fatigue. In terms of business management, digitalization can optimize the management of people, finances, and materials, provide more digital-based management tools, and greatly improve management efficiency.

The third is to promote ZF’s transformation from a traditional auto parts hardware supplier to a digital mobile travel technology service provider, and provide customers with safe, convenient, and carbon-reducing solutions. In fact, ZF has been accelerating digital transformation in recent years. It not only released its self-developed new generation of “Cyruixing” on-board supercomputer at the Shanghai Auto Show in April this year, which supports L2 to L5 autonomous driving; it also released Software-driven digitally interconnected car chassis.

Nowadays, in the context of digitalization, the cooperation between traditional auto parts suppliers and technology companies is unimaginable in the past. “In terms of digital products, Continental’s development of the next-generation driving planner is actually an exploration of digital components that combine software and hardware.” Lu Zaigang, a researcher at the Digital Economy Application Technology Research Center of Xi’an Jiaotong University, introduced to a reporter from China Automobile News. One is that the “driving planner” can quickly calculate accurate decision variables based on sensor data such as radar and cameras, and can calculate traffic conditions several seconds in advance, so as to automatically complete complex optimal response driving operations on highways. Second, it can quickly and intelligently achieve automatic control of horizontal and vertical joint planning. Currently, the adaptive cruise system is used to plan longitudinal movement, and the lane change assist system is used to plan lateral movement, and the driving planner not only covers these but also provides more functions. The third is that when the car is driving on the highway, the driving planner will make the best decision based on the data, and complete the safe high-speed driving according to the traffic flow and road conditions.

“Nowadays, auto parts suppliers of different types and segments, such as Bosch, Continental, ZF, and Qualcomm, are sparing no effort to accelerate the digital transformation. This transformation is the general trend.” South China Institute of Technology Intelligent Perception and Control Engineering Research Center researcher Zhang Ruilin said in an interview with a reporter from China Auto News that digitization is becoming a new focus of transformation and competition in the global auto parts industry.

Accelerating the layout of domestic enterprises

Digital design, digital manufacturing, digital cockpit… More and more domestic auto and parts companies are making efforts to digitize. Digitization has brought unprecedented opportunities, and it has also given birth to a new generation of auto parts companies that have crossed borders. “Among domestic Internet giant BATH, in addition to Baidu’s discontinuation of car manufacturing, Alibaba, Tencent, and Huawei have all become leading digital incremental suppliers of smart auto parts.” Researcher of the Guangzhou Branch of the China Academy of Science and Technology Development Strategy Xu Zhilu told reporters that one is Tencent, positioning itself as the company’s “digital transformation assistant.” Some autonomous driving R&D companies have difficulties with insufficient resources and data. Tencent’s autonomous driving cloud platform takes data as the core, effectively connecting data collection, storage, and labeling to perception algorithm training, simulation and testing, and mass production data return. Digital solutions developed for autonomous driving such as data operations provide great convenience for developers. The second is the digital transformation path that Huawei provides for traditional parts and components companies. It uses cloud computing, big data, digital twins and other technologies to help parts and components companies achieve cost reduction, quality improvement, and efficiency. Among them, it is worth noting that Huawei uses artificial intelligence and digital technology to record the highly accurate operating experience of skilled employees into the database, which can be used for standardized machine vision comparisons, and it can also train and improve the work skills of new employees. . Third, some other technology companies are also entering the auto parts industry across borders, promoting the practical application of digitization.

“There are also some companies that provide platforms for digital transformation of enterprises in China.” Zhang Ruilin said. For example, the Kaos Industrial Internet platform under Haier Group relies on strong ecological capabilities and through cross-border integration, the supply chain is driven by the industrial chain. Parts companies realize sharing in digitalization and create a new ecology of auto parts supply chain in the digital age. Serving auto parts companies, Kaos has also launched an Internet platform for the automotive mold industry to provide digital solutions for auto and parts companies to improve efficiency.

“The current reality of global industrial transformation is forcing component companies to accelerate their digital transformation.” Zeng Wenxiang, a researcher at the Northern Institute of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, emphasized that a new round of technological revolution is booming, big data and 5G, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. Accelerating the integration of new technologies such as, blockchain, reshaping the technical architecture, product forms and service models, and promoting overall innovation in the industry. The digitalization of the auto and parts industry is accelerating, and the management and decision-making models based on big data are becoming more Quality, cost reduction, efficiency enhancement and deep empowerment. The overall domestic auto parts industry is still uneven in understanding. Leading parts and components companies and cutting-edge companies attach importance to digital transformation, and the pace is relatively fast, but there are also a considerable number of parts and components companies that lack sufficient attention to digital transformation and are slow to act. The auto parts industry lacks specific and effective guidance for digital transformation, and many companies lack effective paths, models, and capital investment; related digital infrastructure lacks technical standards, and it is difficult for a large number of domestic auto parts companies to have a common infrastructure technology basis. The lack of compound talents who are familiar with auto parts and digitalization makes it difficult to provide strong support for the digital transformation of auto parts companies.

On November 30, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the “Notice on Printing and Distributing the Development Plan for In-depth Integration of Informatization and Industrialization during the 14th Five-Year Plan”. “It emphasizes the need to build technical professional platforms such as cloud simulation, digital twins, and data processing, and accelerate the integration and application of industrial Internet platforms. These are all requirements for the “industrialization” and digital transformation of auto parts and other industries.” Zhejiang University Digital Researcher Hu Zhongkai of the Economic Application Research Center believes that it is necessary to formulate relevant standards in accordance with the planning of the competent authority, strengthen data security, strengthen the guidance of auto parts companies, and promote related companies to accelerate their digital transformation. The focus of global auto parts market competition is shifting to high-tech fields represented by digitalization. Under this circumstance, those auto parts companies that cannot seize the opportunity and catch up with the digital “shuttle” will inevitably be abandoned by the market.

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