Networked Into a Secure Future

Digitalization is currently revolutionizing mobility. ZF is therefore expanding its digital portfolio and is well-prepared thanks to its development of forward-looking technologies and business models.

Digitization is a development that has already gripped all parts of life in industrial societies. "Always online" is the philosophy of Generation Y, the people who were teenagers at the turn of the millennium. The Internet, smartphones, tablets or wearables, i.e., computer systems worn on the body, characterize the everyday life of these millennials. Yet the older generation has also learned how to handle online orders, WhatsApp or Facebook. Digitization in all areas of life is changing the needs of mobile consumers.

In the process, the age of digitization is marked by three phases of development. While the internet established itself in the initial phase from 1995 to 2005, thereby creating a digital infrastructure, the victory march of social networks and digital transactions began in the second phase from 2006 to 2015. At the same time, digital life has been increasingly shifting from desktop computers to mobile terminal devices. Now, in the third phase, machines are following in man's footsteps, becoming networked more and more. In production, this age is characterized by the "Industry 4.0" development, as well as the general automation of processes and decisions on the basis of cloud-based algorithms.

Three questions put to Torsten Gollewski

Mobility industry on the move

Mobility is currently also undergoing a fundamental change. Without digitization and networking, technological developments like electromobility, autonomous driving or the desire for more security and efficiency cannot take place. Vehicle manufacturers and system suppliers like ZF must accordingly face the challenges inherent to these disruptive changes. At the same time, however, digitization offers huge opportunities for opening up new areas of business. Software products, for instance, are increasingly making an important contribution to adding value, and they are becoming a feature of differentiation from the competition. "By networking intelligent, self-learning systems, we achieve a new dimension," Torsten Gollewski, Manager Advanced Engineering at ZF says, adding, "The transformation from pure mechanics to intelligent mechanical systems that record and analyze situations and handle them accordingly can be summarized in the triad 'See – Think – Act.‘“

Since ZF strives for maximum competence in all these areas, freedom of thought and ideation are just as much a part of the corporate strategy as additional purchases or strategic alliances.

More safety through digitization

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) taking place in Las Vegas in January 2017, the company will present its X2Safe algorithm, developed in the ZF think tank. For the first time, this digital application networks the automobile with weaker road users like pedestrians or cyclists in the cloud. X2Safe, for instance, warns all participants well ahead of an impending collision. The algorithm therefore has the potential to drastically reduce the number of injuries and deaths in road traffic. As ZF has the know-how for the intelligent networking of mechanical systems with environmental sensors like cameras, radar or lidar, the company is driving digitization in mobility and making an important contribution to more safety.

With the Openmatics telematics platform, ZF has already been a networking specialist for fleet operators since 2010. The innovative cloud solution, for example, may contribute considerably to the acceptance of electromobility in the area of fleet applications through the monitoring of the loading technology – for company vehicles, vehicle rental agencies and auto repair shops.

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