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Major industry challenges

Engineering Opportunities

Markets are growing as never before; by 2015 a billion new consumers in the emerging economies will have entered the world market. All consumers have a nearly endless stream of choices to satisfy their appetite for personalized products and customized services. But a growing awareness of our limited energy resources and our fragile environment creates demand for a new generation of sustainable products, most of which will have to be "smarter" than ever before.

A sustainable future

As polluting fossil-based energy becomes scarcer, unstable and more expensive, governments are taking measures for a balanced energy mix that combines conventional and renewable sources, and are making regulations to steer consumer's behavior. By 2030 global energy use will be doubled, but CO2- emissions will have to be reduced by 80% to 95% by 2050. The race to reduce greenhouse gasses and to achieve greater energy effi ciency is offering some of the most challenging engineering opportunities in decades.

Manufacturers and suppliers are developing hybrid-electrical/diesel vehicles, introducing liquid hydrogen-fuelled hybrid propulsion systems, and electrical navigation drive and fl y systems. As a result, there is an increased demand for power electronics and high-voltage batteries. At the same time, engineers are downsizing conventional powertrains by 'supercharging' smaller engines, and developing advanced fuel efficiency programs. Design departments are shaping the world's largest and smallest vehicles with composite materials.... the nano revolution with unmanned systems in the air, on land and at sea.

This eco-evolution is also creating enormous opportunities for a 'new' energy sector, from wind turbines to solar-energy, from traditional to future nuclear power plants, from smart grid home energy to smart grid transportation and bio-energy.

Dr. Pletschen, Director Mercedes-Benz Development NVH, Ride Comfort, Aerodynamics: "There is a clear need to design differently while focusing more and more on those brand-critical traits. As a luxury brand, we must continue to produce automobiles that create emotion."

Smart systems for intelligent vehicles
At the same time, engineers in the automotive, aerospace, railway, shipbuilding and other high tech industries are challenged by customer demands with an appetite for more comfort, performance and safety, all at reasonable prices. Smart products and intelligent systems are taking over in order to improve comfort, performance and safety levels. Recent surveys show that approximately 80% of next-generation products and systems will be derived from so-called SMART systems. Intelligent systems clearly are essential when designing cost-effi cient products with higher productivity levels and superior reliability.

As a result, advanced drive/fl y/navigate assistance systems and electronic control units are taking over. From ABS, ESP/DTC, HVAC, start/stop-systems, active lane keeping, collision avoidance, automatic parking, to advanced in-vehicle telematics, GPS and an integrated internet towards the fi rst 'connected vehicles' for cars, trains, airplanes, satellites, ships, etc. Intelligent active systems are running everything from key operating and safety mechanisms in the latest vehicles to "smart" packaging machines, hyper-speed printing presses, powerpacking excavators and highly effi cient wind turbines.

A winning brand identity

Clearly, markets are growing in size and sophistication. There are more product drivers than ever before; new regions of the world, new regulations, new sensitivities, more communication among buyers and heightened awareness of what everyone else has. The result is more product choices and more competition. Differentiation can be more subtle and diffi cult to convey in the time a consumer is willing to spend evaluating your offering.

The "green revolution" offers some of the best examples of brand value. Consumers and legislation are driving the 'green and smart revolution', putting traditional, critical, brand values under pressure. How do you combine the passion for driving or the fun of fl ying with a green world? How do you create breathtaking emotions and unforgettable experiences in a eco-friendly society? How to guarantee the future of a distinctive brand sound or brand performance without compromises?

Winning products will differentiate through appealing brand values. The 'brand-related-emotions-and-experiences' will be one of the most decisive factors in the customer decision making process and will have to be captured early in the design process .

Personalized products and services

With the new emerging markets, the global demand for products and services will be unprecedented. The automotive industry, manufacturing 60 million cars per year today, must plan to build more than 100 million cars per year by 2030. The same is true in aerospace, where tens of thousands of new aircraft are forecast for the next two decades, and in practically every other industry.....

However, operating in a globalized world will not create one global customer. Far from it. Each manufacturer or supplier of cars, ground vehicles, airplanes, ships, electrical devices, etc. is challenged by a multitude of local preferences and an increased pallet of demands for personalized products and customized services.

As a result, manufacturers and their suppliers have created an enormous segmentation of products and services. Automotive manufacturers are producing models from small city cars to comfortable high performance limousines, from sedans to hatchbacks, from SUVs to compact SUVs and cross-overs. Within this range of models the customer can chose again: conventional powertrains with small 2 cylinder engines or powerful V12's, or fi scally stimulated electric or hybrid-electric vehicles.

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