3rd International VDI Conference on connected Off-Highway Machines

DUSSELDORF - On 10 and 11 April, the 3rd International VDI Conference on connected off-highway machines took place in Dusseldorf (Germany) with around 200 participants and 20 speakers.

The two-day conference gave an overview of the impact of digital transformation for both agricultural and construction machinery sectors, covering key aspects such as business models, automatisation and robotics.

Mobile machines become increasingly connected and drive (semi-)autonomously already, examples from both sectors demonstrated how productivity and safety can be radically improved. The IoT and Big Data also open unexpected possibilities that need to be coupled with advanced autonomous machines. However, this technical revolution will bring important challenges as the protection of data, the security of the connectivity and the design and operation of advanced machines with a more demanding technical competence than ever.

Business models will experience a radical change as well. The increasing added value linked to services will make the already existing ‘machine office’ a complex equipment that will ask for more advanced skills and will switch the focus from the machine engineering to the process optimisation.

Last developments on cameras and sensors will be part of the successful equation, big companies and highly specialised SMEs are exploring the limits of a fully automated workplace.

Regarding robotics, agriculture is ready for radical transformations. Small robots in the fields are more present and the ‘push’ for investment, a limiting factor nowadays, will take place as soon as owners see a clear payback.

VDI conference gave a flavour of existing technologies and a prospection on future ones. Machines’ connectivity is growing exponentially and it will change what we understand as production until now.

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