Within the SCORE project we identified many important starting points to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness. For further competitiveness of the European Transport Manufacturing Industry, various essential areas were identified during the course of this project.

China as an opportunity but also as a challenge

The Chinese enormous demand for transport components, solutions and systems constitutes the biggest and therefore most important market for most industry segments. China, a country that used to be a major importer of transport systems and components, is now following a more competitive approach with Chinese companies focusing on and supplying mainly the domestic market and to a lesser extent – but still increasingly – also offering its competitive products internationally. In the rail rolling stock industry, for instance, Chinese companies are already the biggest supplier of high-speed trains (with around two-thirds of deliveries). This has been achieved solely by serving the substantial domestic demand and not by accessing international markets. Also in the automotive market Chinese companies are already the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer.Even though protectionism, and hence reduced market access to major markets of interest, was perceived as a likely risk at the expert survey, the upcoming Chinese competition was the top ranked risk in the project’s expert survey.

Despite various expert analyses and multiple discussions between the SCORE consortium and industrial experts,  there was no real agreement about the set-up of appropriate counter-measures against protectionist tendencies Europe is facing at the moment. Some experts are in clear favour of trade liberation, free markets and the resulting need to strive for global technological leadership of European companies. Other experts recommend e.g. a change in EU trade policy connecting the licensing of Chinese external industrial investments into Europe (FDI) with the broadening/liberalisation of market access for European manufacturers. Although there is no agreement about protecting Europe’s intellectual property and competences, the liberalisation of the Chinese market is encouraged by all stakeholders of the SCORE project.

Highly-qualified workforce

Skilled employees and workers are crucial assets for innovations, R&D activities and technological leadership. In the knowledge-intensive environment of digital innovations, this topic becomes more relevant than ever as the general trend indicates that competition for excellent workers will further intensify. An increased effort in education and training, especially for rapidly emerging areas which are relevant in all industry sectors (e.g. Cybersecurity), should be further intensified. In Work Package 2 a detailed analysis with a specifically designated research area for the topic “WorkForce” was compiled for all considered transport industry sectors. Also the expert survey illustrated the clear industrial need for highly skilled people which was also discussed and emphasized in the SCORE Final Conference in Brussels

Advanced Manufacturing Technologies

During the course of the project many advanced manufacturing and enabling technologies were discussed and assessed in various aspects. The European transport manufacturing industry seems in general optimistic about technology developments; emerging technologies are largely perceived as opportunities for future competitiveness, not as risk.

Key manufacturing technologies were considered in detail at the workshop at the Trough-Life-Engineering Services conference, where one of the main objectives was to identify those potential technologies that are either innovative or disruptive in nature and how the industry is currently planning their activities around these developments.

While there are a lot of important technologies at present and the future, the three key technological trends for all transport manufacturing industry sectors are:

  • Automation - Automation of driving capabilities for the transport sector starting from advanced driver assistance systems to fully autonomous vehicles and systems will radically disrupt customer behaviour and have tremendous requirements on the industry sectors. Certainly, this technology will substantially shape the future of mobility.
  • Electrification - Alternative propulsion technologies are one of the top priorities to achieve a sustainable mobility system for the future.
  • Digitalisation -Digital innovations are by far the most rapid developing technology enabling new structures for the manufacturing value chain by the implementation of cyber-physical systems, disrupting well-established business models that offer new opportunities for existing and new competitors and enable sophisticated service innovations throughout the whole lifecycle.

As these key technology trends (and many others) shape the future of the European transport manufacturing industries, effective regulatory frameworks need to keep up with the rapid development and innovation speed. Potential barriers might be e.g. the prevailing privacy protection instruments in the European Union that are strongest in global comparison.