Yet when the Ford Motor Company recently joined the automotive alliance called Catena-X, it became the fifth industry giant to participate in a revolutionary collaboration that now also includes Mercedes Daimler, the BMW group, Volkswagen, Volvo and 91 members across the industry value chain.
“Responsible, transparent and sustainable supply chains are key for successful change in the automotive industry,” said Werner Pütz, vice president, Purchasing, Ford of Europe, when his company joined Catena-X. “By assuring secure data exchange, Catena-X provides a strong basis for collaborative efforts in this arena that is so important for all businesses in the industry.”
When the COVID pandemic suddenly disrupted supply chains, players in the automotive space, from software companies such as SAP, to the technology group Siemens AG and the communications giant Deutsche Telekom, realized the need for a much closer cooperation. Thankfully, by the middle of 2021, the basis for that cooperation was already in place.
The automotive alliance now called Catena X had been started more than a year prior, striving to provide the key ingredient to a close collaboration between potential competitors: Trust. In order to build trust among its members, the automotive alliance had adopted the IDS standard. With clear rules for joining the initiative and with a setup that allows participants granular control of their data access rights, this standard allows for the entire industry to come together to create a network of data-exchange along the entire value chain.
Resilience in the supply chains, that has proven much more elusive than ever expected in the past two years, is achieved through the application of the IDS standard in two ways. “There is a defensive and an offensive aspect,” says Sebastian Steinbuss, CTO of IDSA.
The defensive aspect, Mr. Steinbuss says, comes from being able to screen partners and hold them to a high standard before even being able to participate in the data sharing space. The offensive aspect comes through an ability to respond flexibly to problems or crises anywhere along the value chain. If any partner is temporarily disabled due to cyberattacks or other unforeseeable circumstances, they can quickly be replaced by a vetted partner, that immediately has access to all the desired information.
The success and the potential of Catena-X shows the immense benefits of sharing data across entire industries along the lines of the standards developed by IDSA. It enables new bold ways of working together that can benefit everyone.
As Hagen Heubach, global VP, Industry Business Unit Automotive at SAP, and board member of the Catena-X Automotive Network recently said in an interview: “We can create so much more of a joint [partnership], by following an ecosystem approach, rather than a single platform, locked-in approach. Everything needs to be open to be interoperable. That’s the key.“