We are currently going through the process of change associated with Industry 4.0 – but the next catch-phrase is already following close behind: Mobility 4.0. What does it mean?
Industry 4.0 represents automation – this means, standardising processes and categorising data. Mobility 4.0 entails significantly greater flexibility, particularly when it comes to mobility for people. That is to say, if services operate according to a set timetable at the moment, they will be organised in line with demand in future.
“Mobility 4.0 is only feasible if it is possible to process data efficiently and dynamically through a permanent communications system.”
Efficient IT services and the networking of people through digital communications are necessary to ensure that this works smoothly. Car sharing, for example, only makes sense if it is organised digitally. After all, users need to know where the next free car is located or the free car must be able to navigate its way to the next user.
In this sense, the two buzz-words Industry 4.0 and Mobility 4.0 are highly compatible – because both of them are only feasible if it is possible to process data efficiently and dynamically through a permanent communications system.
Logistics specialists like us already organise the mobility of goods in a very flexible manner by optimising networks dynamically, planning routes individually on a daily basis and adapting matters during the course of the day, if the need arises. We have developed our own IT tools to cope with these challenges.
However, not every development that people are currently applauding within the context of Mobility 4.0 is actually an innovation. Let us take platooning, for example, where a series of trucks follow each other closely to form a column, or trucks with overhead catenary establish a link to the electricity grid. Both these systems have functioned well on the railway networks for decades.
So far it has not been possible to significantly increase the market share of goods shipped by rail. Why? There has simply not been a consistent and workable investment strategy as regards the network infrastructure. Bottlenecks like those in the Upper Rhine area or on the Betuwe line could have been prevented many years ago.
We can only hope that politicians, corporations and society in general will set the right course both at a domestic and international level in future. Do you not get annoyed by gaps in mobile phone reception, the closure of bridges or the state of the tracks when you are travelling by car or train?
The ongoing technological development of our society depends on how the worlds of politics and business manage to do their homework. We at Rhenus are more than happy to face the challenges of Mobility 4.0 – for the benefit of our customers.
However, it is not enough to view progress simply in terms of digitalisation and automation. Our customers decide how they wish to communicate with us. We need to adapt in a flexible manner. That is to say, Mobility 4.0 needs to be organised in such a way that many benefit from it and remain mobile at all times.