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Connecting cars, now and in the future

06 April 2018

We are constantly being introduced to new means of connecting, updating and digitising every aspect of our lives, and the automotive industry is no exception.

We expect instant access to information and technology that not only will work around our busy lives but make the day-to-day easier. This digital transformation is radicalising consumer expectations and demands within the automotive industry. 

Where next for connected cars?

Connected cars have been and are continuing to dominate the automotive industry agenda. A recent report by Allied Market Research revealed that the connected car market is predicted to reach $141 billion by 2020. The availability of faster communication networks, advanced connectivity solutions and user-friendly interfaces are driving the global connected car market.

These “connected cars” are able to provide owners with more information than ever before, gathering information from sensors, lights, infotainment systems and a range of sophisticated electronics. Increasingly, cars can be accessed remotely via a smartphone app. This allows consumers to set the climate, start the engine and lock and unlock their vehicles. But what does all this additional connectivity mean, what effect is the virtual having on the physical? 

The rise in connected cars clearly emphasises the consumer desire to enhance their automotive experience, but they aren’t willing to compromise on vehicle performance. Did you know the average modern vehicle requires approximately 50-200 fasteners? The global, automotive, plastic fasteners market was estimated to be worth $2.18 billion in 2016 and continues to be on the rise. This increase requires manufacturers to stay ahead of the trend and constantly develop new fastening solutions in new light-weight materials. However, they must also ensure they still meet all of the necessary demands placed on the application in the most efficient way. 

Streamlining the manufacturing process

Whilst digitisation is changing the face of the automotive industry, manufacturers themselves are also embarking on an evolutionary journey of modernisation. Described as the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 is changing the very nature of manufacturing, with companies racing to find ways to transform and update their existing technologies and capabilities. The integration of digitalisation and data exchange in to the manufacturing process has led to the rapid growth of what are known as smart factories, where cyber-physical systems play increasingly significant roles, alongside human counterparts. Manufacturers can no longer simply make physical products, they must also find ways to create additional value for customers, through increased connectivity and data capture and analysis. 

Inevitably, this shift is changing the manufacturing industry and presents exciting new opportunities for the components, fasteners and fixings markets. For manufacturers to truly reap the benefits of this huge transition, factories must adopt a strategic approach to providing manufacturers with essential design and prototype support. For companies like Essentra Components, who specialise in the manufacture of automotive fasteners and fixings, incorporating new technologies will allow them to keep up demand. Specifically, the increase in manufacture of nylon fastenings. Nylon fasteners are the perfect solution for the automotive industry, not only are they tough but the fasteners also do not conduct electricity. These nylon fixings can also withstand extensive variations in temperature, demonstrating its suitability for vehicles.

Interior car parts are hugely complex and increasingly offer bespoke characteristics, which require precise attention to detail. This is where the rise of automated manufacturing processes truly comes into its own highlighting the value of making that transition into the digitised and connected world. Automation means that bespoke options can be programmed faster, leading to reduced downtime, increased productivity and ultimately the product will be sent to market in a shorter period of time. Manufacturers must continue to invest in streamlining their manufacturing process. In doing so, not only are businesses directly addressing the varying demands of their customers but they are also protecting the longevity of their companies.

Strengthened productivity

Ultimately, by implementing a more connected, automated and digitised manufacturing process, businesses will improve efficiencies while keeping costs low and maintaining a quality customer experience. Manufacturers will be able to limit the machines down-time and reduce operational costs, which in turn will enable them to futureproof their business. As the rate of technological advancement increases year on year, manufacturers must say ahead of the competition, and their customers, by streamlining their manufacturing processes to ensure products are delivered to market faster and cheaper than ever before.

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