From 16th to 18th October 2018, the International Suppliers Fair (IZB) opens its doors in Wolfsburg for the tenth time. The specialist event, which was launched as a regional showcase event back in 2001, is celebrating its anniversary with an impressive total of 838 exhibitors from 34 different countries.
By focusing on the topic of “Think Digital”, it is exploring the wide range of different issues involved in the digitalisation of the entire automotive value chain. The three-day-long industry gathering was officially opened by the three IZB patrons Dr Stefan Sommer, the Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG responsible for Components and Procurement, Stephan Weil, the Prime Minister of the German Federal State of Lower Saxony, and Klaus Mohrs, the Mayor of the City of Wolfsburg, together with Dr Herbert Diess, the Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, and Dr Frank Fabian and Thomas Krause from the Management Board of the company behind the IZB, Wolfsburg AG, at an event held this evening and attended by around 400 guests from the worlds of politics, business and science.
At the opening event, Dr Herbert Diess, the Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, explained the challenges facing automotive manufacturers and suppliers: “We have all got used to thriving industrial metropolises growing around the headquarters and production facilities of German manufacturers and supplier companies. There is, however, no guarantee that this will continue forever. I want Wolfsburg, Ingolstadt, Stuttgart and Munich to still be active industrial centres in 10, 15 and 20 years’ time. In order to achieve this, tremendous efforts will need to be made! Given that I do not want to create a misleading impression: it is clear that we in the automotive industry also need to do our own homework in order to remain competitive on a long-term basis. When doing so, we – OEMs and suppliers alike – face two major stages of transformation, namely the comprehensive electrification of engines and the digital networking of all functions and services in cars.”
A record-breaking anniversary
The automotive supplier industry is showcasing the products and services that it is currently already offering for the mobility of the future at the International Suppliers Fair. The established specialist trade fair, which has now opened its doors for the 10th time, has yet again achieved a number of new record totals and is larger and more international than ever before thanks to 838 exhibitors from 34 different countries.
The event is also continuously developing in terms of its content, as was emphasised by Dr Frank Fabian, the Spokesman of the Board of the company organising the IZB, Wolfsburg AG: “When striving to fully represent the entire automotive value chain, the IZB uses its focus on highly topical issues in the automotive world to recognise the demands of the modern automotive industry, which are constantly becoming increasingly complex." The digitalisation of products, processes and production in particular is advancing in all sub-sectors. More than 10 percent of the exhibitors at this year’s event have explicitly selected its main topic, “Think Digital”, as their focus and are mostly presenting their digital innovations from a wide variety of different sectors in Hall 1.
The fact that eight of the world’s ten highest-volume supplier companies are presenting their innovations in the exhibition area covering 38,000 square metres in the Allerpark in Wolfsburg at this year’s event underlines the importance of the industry gathering in the automotive world. Alongside these global players, the group of exhibitors at this year’s IZB also includes a multitude of small and medium-sized companies. In comparison with previous events, the IZB 2018 features a larger number of service providers and IT companies offering expertise that is sure to play an interesting role as part of the digital transformation taking place within the automotive industry. The companies exhibiting at this year’s trade fair have announced that they are showcasing a total of 117 innovations, 38 of which are world premieres.
The digital transformation: a challenge for the industry
At the opening event, Dr Stefan Sommer, the Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG responsible for Components and Procurement and a patron of the IZB, emphasised the importance of the strategic partnership between suppliers and manufacturers when it comes to mastering the digital transformation: “Only with high performance and reliable partners on our side will we be able to work together to master the challenges involved in digitalisation that are facing our industry. Innovative power and entrepreneurial courage are becoming the order of the day."
The Prime Minister of the German Federal State ofLower Saxony, Stephan Weil, who is also a patron of the IZB 2018, informed participants that the state government is strongly committed to advancing the digital transformation in Lower Saxony’s automotive and commercial vehicle industry. “The state will invest one billion Euros in the ‘Digitalisation Master Plan’ over the coming years. By investing in the development of automated and networked mobility and intelligent traffic control systems, we are helping to ensure that Lower Saxony maintains its position as an outstanding automotive location in Europe.” This will also benefit many small and medium-sized companies and their employees, who play an extremely important role in helping the analogue industry to successfully transform into a digital industry.” He went on to explain that although the digital transformation offers many opportunities, it also triggers fears.
According to Weil, there are concerns that the electrification of engines will go hand in hand with upheaval in the labour market. He therefore believes that the state government will face the important task of actively accompanying the digital transformation. More than 60 companies based in Lower Saxony are exhibiting at the International Suppliers Fair, 30 of which come from the Braunschweig-Wolfsburg-Salzgitter region.
The Wolfsburg location as a real-world laboratory for digital mobility
The Mayor of Wolfsburg, Klaus Mohrs, discussed the plans of his city, which has welcomed more than 190 automotive supplier companies since 1999, to become a real-world laboratory for new mobility solutions: “We have set ourselves the target of establishing Wolfsburg as a digital model city. These plans also include the goal of creating a test environment for digital mobility. The people of Wolfsburg and the many mobility experts who work in the city day after day will be among the first to put these new technologies to the test in practice. Volkswagen will benefit from their experiences. At the same time, the project also helps to attract other companies to the city and forms a foundation for securing the competitiveness of our location.
At the IZB Congress, which traditionally kicks off the trade fair and took place on Monday under the motto of “Digital Car Revolution”, more than 300 participants explored issues concerning e-mobility, digitalisation and fully autonomous driving in workshops and discussions. The congress was organised by the company IPM AG.
More information can be found online at www.izb-online.com.