CECE-CEMA Summit examines the issue of digitization and its implications for the sector, the people and EU policies


At their joint political summit, held in Brussels, Belgium, on September 23, 2015, the presidents of CECE and CEMA (the European Agricultural Machinery Association) have presented to the EU institutions a manifesto with five EU priority actions for a successful digital transformation of the construction and the agricultural machinery industries.

Smart regulation to cover virtual testing and self-propelled vehicles

Doing this, the two industries underline that when it comes to mastering the transition toward higher-value digitized machines and processes, EU legislation has a prominent role to play. Digital technologies are set to transform the two industries and products in the years ahead and will reshape the value chains they service. For manufacturers and customers alike, this means considerable change, challenges and opportunities. “We need a smart regulatory framework that helps to unlock the full potential of the digital economy,” said CECE president, Eric Lepine, upon the presentation of the manifesto which explains what this could mean in practice: a smart regulation would, for example, make sure that relevant EU regulation recognizes virtual testing of machines so it can replace, reduce and refine conventional tests in the future. Also the current requirement that a human needs to be in control of a vehicle at all times may need to be reviewed.

Digital economy needs a harmonized, European approach to achieve a high degree of interoperability and compatibility of digital technologies and systems. Users and manufacturers should have a reliable, secure and trustworthy cyberspace. In line with this, European approaches are needed to establish clear and appropriate rules governing questions such as the ownership, management and exploitation of digital data flows and the role and function of cloud-based platforms in the digital economy. Also EU programs such as the European Investment Plan have a role to play in supporting competitiveness and the uptake of innovation in the areas of construction. An adequate broadband infrastructure across the entire EU also is an essential precondition for a successful digital transformation.

Demand for highly skilled workers

Digital transformation would trigger a growing demand for highly skilled workers. The industry claims that digital skills should be integrated more strongly into educational curricula and ongoing skill development programs in relation to manufacturing, engineering and construction. To tackle the estimated shortage of ICT professionals in Europe in the coming years, member states should work to establish mutual recognition of ICT qualifications across the EU and promote cross-border mobility.

As a special part of the program of the summit, a select group of young engineers showcased a number of highly innovative industry projects, showing what the future in the sector will look like. For the construction equipment sector this included Pivoted Drive Unit of Road Milling Machine by Tobias Stinner of Wirtgen, a Parallel to Surface by René Müller of Wirtgen, the Green Wheel Loader by Oliver Koch and Markus Schneider of Technical University of Dresden, Germany, and the Closed Loop Proportional Hydrostatic Drive System by Henry Hudson and Niall McNamee of Caterpillar. Their profiles and detailed information on their projects are available on the Summit website.

September 28, 2015

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Tom Stone is Editor of the iVT brand – which includes digital and print editions of a quarterly magazine and the Advanced Lift-truck supplement, as well as ivtinternational.com, which is updated daily. Tom has met and interviewed some of the world's leading industrial vehicle OEM presidents, CEOs and MDs, and takes great pride in cementing iVT's place as the leading forum for debate within the industry, a reputation that his been built up over the brand's 25-year history.

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