Reimagining the auto industry’s future: It’s now or never
Disruptions in the auto industry will result in billions lost, with recovery years away. Yet companies that reimagine their operations will perform best in the next normal.
By Thomas Hofstätter, Melanie Krawina, Bernhard Mühlreiter, Stefan Pöhler, and Andreas Tschiesner – Electric mobility, driverless cars, automated factories, and ridesharing—these are just a few of the major disruptions the auto industry faced even before the COVID-19 crisis. Now with travel deeply curtailed by the pandemic, and in the midst of worldwide factory closures, slumping car sales, and massive layoffs, it’s natural to wonder what the “next normal” for the auto sector will look like. Over the past few months, we’ve seen the first indicators of this automotive future becoming visible, with the biggest industry changes yet to come.
Many of the recent developments raise concern. For instance, the COVID-19 crisis has compelled about 95 percent of all German automotive-related companies to put their workforces on short-term work during the shutdown, a scheme whereby employees are temporarily laid off and receive a substantial amount of their pay through the government. Globally, the repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis are immense and unprecedented. In fact, many auto-retail stores have remained closed for a month or more. We estimate that the top 20 OEMs in the global auto sector will see profits decline by approximately $100 billion in 2020, a roughly six-percentage-point decrease from just two years ago. It might take years to recover from this plunge in profitability.
At the operational level, the pandemic has accelerated developments in the automotive industry that began several years ago. Many of these changes are largely positive, such as the growth of online traffic and the greater willingness of OEMs to cooperate with partners—automotive and otherwise—to address challenges. Others, however, can have negative effects, such as the tendency to focus on core activities, rather than exploring new areas. While OEMs may now be concentrating on the core to keep the lights on, the failure to investigate other opportunities could hurt them long term.
As they navigate this crisis, automotive leaders may gain an advantage by reimagining their organizational structures and operations. Five moves can help them during this process: radically focusing on digital channels, shifting to recurring revenue streams, optimizing asset deployment, embracing zero-based budgeting, and building a resilient supply chain. One guiding principle—the need to establish a strong decision-making cadence—will also help. We believe that the window of opportunity for making these changes will permanently close in a few months—and that means the time to act is now or never. more>
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, Healthcare, History, How to, Nature, Net, Regulations, Science, Technology, Transportation
Tagged Business improvement, Capital, Government, Health, Internet, Jobs, McKinsey, Skills, Super regions, Technology
Unselfish Molecules May Have Given Rise to Life
New research from Center for Chemical Evolution demonstrates experimentally evaluates alternative model to ‘RNA World’ hypothesis, emphasizing collaboration and co-evolution
By Moran Frenkel-Pinter, Nick Hud, Loren Williams – It’s a question older than science: How did life begin? In modern biology, life depends on life to live. But how did the mutualistic relationship between different molecules – which led, eventually, to complex biological systems, like human beings, for example – actually come to be?
For many researchers, the answer lies within the ‘RNA World,’ a widely-accepted hypothesis in which self-replicating RNA proliferated, serving a dual role as both genetic polymer and catalytic polymer, long before the evolution of DNA and protein.
The RNA World model is an attractive cradle-of-life premise, according to Georgia Institute of Technology researcher Moran Frenkel-Pinter, “because it avoids the extreme improbability of simultaneous independent origins of two different types of polymers. According to that theory, over time the RNA World incrementally invented the ribosome, giving rise to the current biological system comprised of RNA, DNA, and protein.”
She adds, “it’s kind of a parsimonious idea, basically saying that RNA made everything. But there is a much simpler solution.” Frenkel-Pinter and her research partners have offered an alternative – the concerted evolution of polymers – of nucleic acids and proteins. “A Ribonucleoprotein World,” quips Frenkel-Pinter, a research scientist and former NASA Postdoctoral Fellow who works in the labs of Nick Hud and Loren Williams at Georgia Tech, and is the lead author of a recently published paper that provides experimental support for this model.
The paper, “Mutually stabilizing interactions between proto-peptides and RNA,” in the journal Nature Communications, describes the chemical linkage that could have been at play during the origins of biopolymers. Their results suggest that neither nucleic acids or proteins came first, but that RNA and proteins were selected together through a process of co-evolution. In other words, it wasn’t a single selfish gene competing for survival that drove evolution; it was the rising tide of collaboration between molecules from the very beginning. more>
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Posted in Business, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, Healthcare, History, How to, Nature, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Capital, Evolution, Health, Internet, Molecule, Skills, Technology
Announcements from Tesla and CATL show that a long-lived, cobalt-free and competitively price EV and grid/home batteries may finally have arrived.
By John Blyler – The much discussed 1 million-mile (1.6 million kilometers) battery may now be a reality. As the name suggests, these batteries would last for 1 million miles without breaking down. Tesla, along with China-based Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), have announced such a battery that not only lasts longer but also costs less than $100/kWh and uses cobalt-free materials. Why are these two features important?
It has long been a metric for the success of electronic vehicles (EV) that their battery energy density be on parity with traditional gasoline-powered engines. Such a condition would allow EVs to compete with gasoline vehicles on both weight and range – especially the latter. This means that, if gasoline is 100 times more energy-dense than a battery, that a vehicle would need 100 lbs of battery to go as far as 1-lb of gasoline.
But past studies by the Argonne National Labs have shown that system efficiency is another key consideration when comparing EV and gasoline energy densities. The research lab noted that electric powertrains are far more efficient than powertrains powered by gasoline. In many cases, less than 20% of the energy contained in a gallon of gas actually gets converted to forward motion. After that power has been transmitted through a transmission and differential to the wheels, it would have suffered significantly more mechanical losses.
By contrast, an electric powertrain can be more than 90% efficient. This would suggest that the energy density of an EV battery could be far less than equivalent to a gasoline-powered vehicle and still come out ahead. more>
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, History, How to, Science, Technology, Transportation
Tagged Battery, Business improvement, Electric vehicles, Manufacturing, Skills, Technology
To weather a crisis, build a network of teams
This dynamic and collaborative team structure can tackle an organization’s most pressing problems quickly. Here are four steps to make it happen.
By Andrea Alexander , Aaron De Smet, Sarah Kleinman, and Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi – Imagine you are a tenured CEO of a utility company. You have led your organization through hurricanes and other extreme-weather events. You have followed a playbook, and moved to a “command and control” style to address the cascading effects of natural disasters. But now you’re dealing with COVID-19, a crisis unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. There is no coronavirus playbook.
That utility CEO is not alone. Leaders across industries can’t treat this pandemic like other events they have experienced or trained for. First, no single executive has the answer. In fact, to understand the current situation—let alone make decisions about how to respond—you will need to involve more people than you’re accustomed to.
In this rapidly changing environment, your people need to respond with urgency, without senior executives and traditional governance slowing things down. Waiting to decide, or even waiting for approval, is the worst thing they can do. Yet some level of coordination across teams and activities is crucial for your organization’s response to be effective. How do you do this? How do you accomplish the seemingly impossible?
The answer: create a robust network of teams that is empowered to operate outside of the current hierarchy and bureaucratic structures of the organization.
In response to the coronavirus, organizations of all shapes and sizes are moving in this direction. They are setting up “control towers,” “nerve centers”—which take over some of the company’s critical operations—and other crisis-response teams to deal with rapidly shifting priorities and challenges. They see that these teams make faster, better decisions, and many are wondering how they can replicate this effort in other parts of their organization. more>
Posted in Business, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, Healthcare, How to, Nature, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Capital, Health, McKinsey, Pandemic, Skills, Team building
By John Lusty – Digitalization is transforming the global Energy & Utilities (E&U) industry, and the most exciting part is that it’s happening so differently in each industry sector depending on their unique plans and priorities. That’s because each organization has a slightly different digital legacy and is executing a different business model that is making them a leader in their respective sectors of the market. It’s also because E&U businesses are inherently non-uniform due to mergers and acquisitions, project mindsets, boom and bust business cycles, breakthroughs in technology, and sudden societal or geopolitical shifts that ripple through the global energy economy at the speed of light.
This blog is the first in a new series from Siemens Digital Industries Software, where we’ll discuss trends in digitalization that relate to the Energy & Utilities industry. At Siemens, we have the privilege of working closely with industry leaders and people from an extensive range of manufacturing sectors with different degrees of digital maturity. That lets us see what’s working great as well as some things that didn’t go quite as planned.
We’re also the software business unit within Siemens AG, a mega-enterprise of close to 400,000 colleagues that acts as a massive internal customer for our solutions. People usually look at us a little differently, knowing that as a global engineering and manufacturing organization that relies extensively on our software solutions, we truly have “skin in the game” as our supplier.
Much work has been done across the E&U industry to assemble and apply the “digital twin” of assets, projects and facilities to be more efficient, profitable, and operationally excellent. In this blog, we’ll review examples of excellence in these areas and speak with some of the people who made them happen. more>
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, How to, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Climate change, Digital transformation, Energy, Siemens, Skills