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Adopting a new technology – as we see it in the automotive industry with its shift to zero carbon – requires not only new components and products to be manufactured in high volume, but also adaptation of whole supply chains and ecosystems.
This major shift in the transport sector is driven by actions on climate change mitigation. The obvious components which have to be manufactured in volume now are linked to new powertrains such as batteries, electric drives and probably soon, fuel cells. To make this happen, we also have to upscale the associated capabilities such as machine tools, test equipment and logistics. In short, the whole industry is morphing into its new steady state following the transition, which requires up-scaling of components, forming of new relationships and developing new skills. This is why we refer to this kind of upscaling as an ecosystem challenge, which involves multiple stakeholders working together at once.
Although one of the major drivers, climate change mitigation is not the only global megatrend. Urbanisation is continually progressing, with already 55% of the global population living in urban areas, which is expected to grow significantly. This will require suitable living space, delivery and logistics for the provision of services. Hence, we will also see upscaling in the manufacture of prefabricated houses, or parts thereof, and increased multi-modal transport delivery for the last mile.
However, upscaling is not only a physical process related to products or components. Every two years the amount of information we record doubles, most tools are digital and processing capability is constantly increasing, opening up vast new capabilities of information extraction. However, this upscaling needs to be managed in the same way to gain the expected benefits. Too many digital technologies are advertised that are looking for a problem. This has led to a fatigue in “digital” and may lead to a slow-down in adoption. Rather, we should treat digital technologies as a toolbox which we use to respond to challenges and to address a business need. Selected correctly, with technology, culture and leadership aligned, both digital and physical upscaling can generate huge business benefits.
This new space raises, of course, new questions of data ownership, interaction of the supply chain value generation and new ways of collaboration. In short, upscaling will be a key challenge in the years to come, with industries as ecosystems having to respond to global megatrends. It also shows that we do require sustainable manufacturing as it involves environmental drivers, increases economic benefit and includes social considerations.
Upscaling is therefore a key pillar of HSSMI’s three challenge areas: upscaling, productivity and circular economy.