Why ZF is ramping up its relationship with Microsoft

ZF Friedrichshafen stated it is shifting its business enterprise, output and industrial processes onto the cloud as it expands its partnership with Microsoft.

The German automobile supplier on Tuesday stated it will digitalize all of its processes on the Microsoft Azure cloud system — a go that ZF expects will create considerably-reaching added benefits across its organization.

The firm mentioned moving the platform on to the cloud would permit for bigger autonomous driving capabilities, extra successful factories and workplaces and a better understanding of a quickly evolving international provide chain.

“It has turn out to be extremely crystal clear to us that we have to have details to manage our company, and that info has to go throughout the total of ZF group. It cannot be nearby,” explained Martin Fischer, a member of the ZF Board of Management, in an interview with Automotive Information.

Fischer did not say how significantly the enterprise is paying out on the partnership, however he claimed it was a “extended-time period agreement.” In a information release, ZF claimed it was investing “billions of euros” on digitalization in the coming yrs, together with a “significant quantity” in the Microsoft collaboration.

The move is the newest illustration of a key vehicle company deepening its romance with Microsoft. In modern decades, Volkswagen Team has partnered with the tech huge on cloud computing for connected motor vehicle and autonomous driving technologies, when provider Robert Bosch reported before this calendar year it would perform with Microsoft to create a computer software system for cars.

“We preferred to carry our computer software advancement procedures to the point out of the artwork,” Fischer reported. “And who superior to understand from than from Microsoft?”

ZF previously bought cloud storage and other expert services from Microsoft, but this collaboration will enable “all types of creativeness” among its workforce and its buyers and associates, Fischer mentioned.

“We have a powerful belief that it really is all about massive data and artificial intelligence,” he said.

In the news release, ZF claimed it will use Microsoft’s cloud, data, device discovering and artificial intelligence capabilities to “make new merchandise or enterprise designs,” like in its automated driving small business. For case in point, ZF reported the cloud system would make it possible for for “continuous facts stream” concerning its autonomous shuttles and their environments.

“The magic formula is to know as considerably as feasible about the surroundings to make that digital driver definitely safe,” Fischer claimed. “The a lot more facts we can gather about the setting and feed that to the shuttle, the greater that virtual driver is going to be.”

ZF in recent months has invested substantially in autonomous shuttles, pitching alone in October as a “full supplier” of self-driving shuttle programs.

ZF reported it would also be “digitally connecting” its offer chain to the cloud, integrating it with the company’s “profits and functions preparing method.” That will permit the provider “to anticipate internal and exterior capability desires” additional successfully, whilst also delivering “seamless stop-to-end source chain visibility.”

“Whole visibility allows a more rapidly reaction to most likely challenging market place developments to lessen or stay away from provide chain interruptions and ensure timely purchaser deliveries,” ZF claimed in a assertion.

Additionally, ZF claimed Tuesday it will roll out the “Digital Manufacturing System” it developed with Microsoft and PwC Germany to all of its factories worldwide following a thriving pilot application at a plant in Germany. The platform makes use of Microsoft’s cloud and details services to make its manufacturing procedures “far more flexible and far more productive,” ZF claimed.

ZF ranks No. 3 on Automotive Informationrecord of the best 100 world-wide suppliers, with automotive elements product sales of $33.4 billion to automakers in 2020.

Eleanore Beatty

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