What does the digitization of mobility and logistics mean?

Dieter Schweer, Member of the Executive Board, BDI

Dieter Schweer, Member of the Executive Board, tells in an interview how mobility is converting and what this has to do with digitization.

Digitization affects nearly all areas of our society, including our mobility. What developments is industry preparing itself for?

The mobility of the future will be digitally networked. This trend is irreversible. There is enormously high potential in all modes of transport to significantly relieve consumers, the environment, infrastructure and resources in future thanks to digital solutions. And the competitive position of German enterprises in the mobility and logistics sector is very good. It is precisely this sector which internationally belongs to the showpieces of German industry. But we are also aware that global competition is increasing. In order to keep jobs, know-how and investment in Germany, it is vital to work hard to develop a competitive edge in competence and to open up new markets for innovative technologies “made in Europe”.  

How do users benefit from these technologies?

There will very many different uses and they will occur with all modes of transport. The users will benefit from greater comfort and will find it easier to plan their travel and transport chains from start to finish. We will exploit the capacity of our infrastructure better and conserve resources. In addition, there will be increased safety and smoother traffic flows.

  • Example individual mobility: thanks to new apps and platforms with your smartphone you can always receive comprehensive information for planning your journey –including information on traffic flows in real time. Then at all times you will be excellently informed and can select the best mode of transport for your mobility requirements.
  • Example logistics: thanks to improved and faster information about the traffic situation or weather conditions, enterprises are already today permanently optimizing their capacity and route planning. In addition, for example in maritime transport, early information about the turnaround time of a ship could help to cut costs and emissions. For example, when waiting times are anticipated, ships could travel more slowly, thus reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

Why is financial support from the state necessary for research and demonstration projects?  

Industry stands by the goals that the mobility of tomorrow must be safer, cleaner and quieter. And to achieve these goals it is investing a substantial sum annually in research and development. But in the case of many of these new topics, we require genuine basic research to be done. Individual business enterprises cannot perform that on their own. They need to close ranks with scientific research and with other enterprises of all sizes. We are also experiencing more and more frequently that when it comes to digitization the classical boundaries between branches of industry are being blurred. Against this background we need these innovative research approaches featuring state co-funding.  

What must now be done so that we can benefit from the advantages of digital and networked mobility?

The basic precondition for the mobility of the future is state-of-the-art broadband networks. In addition, we need comprehensive and reliable data on vehicles and infrastructures. The present and the new systems must interoperate. Existing technological developments must not be invalidated. At the same time, we must also work together in the transport sector to solve the questions of data security and data protection. Support from the politicians is required for all these assignments.

  • In rail transport the European Union must give greater support to the expansion of the uniform European Rail Traffic Management System ERTMS.
  • In road traffic we need in particular the legal and infrastructure framework conditions for automated driving.
  • In aviation, apart from the consistent implementation of the German government’s civil aviation strategy, there must be a wider-ranging public research promotion extending to other important aspects of aviation besides focussing on manufacturers.
  • The policy-makers are called upon to create the regulatory conditions for the operation of unmanned airborne craft in controlled airspace.
  • And in maritime transport we demand that the digitally supported EU project “Blue Belt” should be implemented in its entirety.