Future trends such as climate change, new mobility, and digitalization are major challenges: They will shape our future life and make it unequivocally clear to us that a fresh way of thinking will be inescapable in many fields. We looked at the question of which future trends continue to be particularly important for us and have identified five future trends: Sustainability & climate change, new mobility & electrified powertrain, autonomous production, data economy & digitalization, and demographic change. We see addressing these trends not only as an obligation in the context of our increased responsibilities, but also as a strategic opportunity for our future success.
Sustainability & Climate change
The growing need for a more sustainable economy and the ongoing climate change are two of the most significant trends our world is currently facing. Given the prevailing scientific view that the emission of greenhouse gases continues to drive the process of global warming inexorably onwards, the priority must now be on efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. The fight for more sustainability and against climate change will require innovative technologies for the transition to renewable forms of energy and efficient options for energy storage and distribution.
This is a challenge for the automotive industry in particular, since motor vehicles are a major source of pollutant emissions. The approach is the development of electrified drive technologies that reduce the average emissions of the vehicle fleet to a minimum. At the same time, our Industrial division is also ideally positioned to offer comparable services in its sector. Consider our rail or wind power business, for example, where we are able to offer technologies such as friction-optimized bearings for maximum energy efficiency.
New mobility & Electrified powertrain
The trend towards new mobility – as in e-mobility, alternative mobility concepts, connectivity, and autonomous driving – will impact both our products and our business models. Key drivers here include the rapid pace of regulatory and technological changes, increasing urbanization, and the growing social awareness of the negative environmental impacts of traditional mobility concepts. Vehicle connectivity is increasingly valued by consumers. At the same time, we are seeing a growing preference for new electrified powertrain technologies as opposed to conventional combustion engines.
The effective implementation of new mobility concepts will require mechatronic technologies at both component and system level. As well as being a key topic for our Automotive business, mobility is just as important for our Industrial business, for two-wheelers, off-road and rail applications, and aerospace, for example.
Intelligent technologies based on AI and increased automation are opening the way to entirely new production and service concepts. The automation of many production activities is already technically feasible today. Moreover, as new technologies continue to increase the speed and breadth of production automation, increased industrial connectivity is providing the foundation for significant efficiency gains through Internet of Things (IoT) applications, such as condition monitoring and preventive maintenance.
Continuing to scale up these activities will be a decisive step in making progress towards industrial production with higher reliability, more favorable cost/benefit ratios, and even higher quality.
For the Schaeffler Group, this trend offers unprecedented potential for growth and increased efficiency – not just for the benefit of our customers, but for our own production operations.
Data economy & Digitalization
In an increasingly connected world, data is now a valuable asset for businesses. The generation, processing, and monetization of data is becoming an ever more important part of the economic ecosystem. Based on rapidly growing digitalization and new data economy there are clear incentives for businesses to harness the full potential of artificial intelligence in their data processing operations. A crucial factor for the success of new digital solutions is their scalability and the level of automation in processing data into useful information for meetingthe business’s needs.
The development of specific business models in the data economy will open up new paths for collaborations, such as open platforms on which entire economic systems can be set up. The data economy is another area where we have major opportunities not only to make our own processes more efficient, but to create real added value for our customers.
Demographic changes are having an impact on the entire global economy. In developing countries, populations are growing and increasingly participating directly in the economic system. Meanwhile in the industrialized countries, we have an ageing population, along with increasing changes in the aspirations and attitudes of members of the younger generations. Urban sprawl is a phenomenon taking place all around the world, and the economic center of gravity will continue to shift towards Asia. Accordingly, these demographic changes will reinforce the other future trends: sustainability & climate change, new mobility & electrified powertrain, autonomous production, data economy & digitalization.
As a global employer, it will be particularly important for us to actively address this trend and provide long-term employment and training opportunities. The establishment of a sustainable diversity management should support this.