The 2023 IBU Members’ Days went live again for the first time – in mid-May, Frankfurt became the meeting place for German sheet metal forming companies. Among other things, the focus was on two topics that are keeping the industry on its toes: AI in production and the prospects for medium-sized suppliers in Germany.
Many participants of the IBU Members’ Days use the event for information, but also for networking and exchange of experiences. “We deliberately go for the mix and get a lot of positive feedback on this,” says a pleased IBU Managing Director Bernhard Jacobs. “In addition to the presentations, we offer suitable discussion groups in which our members delve into the topics in a practical way. In addition, there is a company tour – this time we were at Continental Automotive Technologie – and an evening event.”
Possible applications of AI in production
For the main topics, the IBU had invited experts to Frankfurt. Justus Benning from FIR e. V. at RWTH Aachen University presented AI application possibilities in production. Under the headlines “Why AI, Understanding AI, AI Application Examples, Implementing AI”, he presented the broad spectrum of uses: from quality assurance and error reduction to customer self-service and process automation. The participants took home useful aspects from the matching workshop. “The IBU is planning more events on this in the future,” Jacobs said. The topic of knowledge transfer – a possible field for the implementation of AI – was explored in greater depth by Ralph Lange and Susanne Beckmann from the consultancy Faktor4.
Medium-sized suppliers: no longer competitive in this way
Sebastian Brunkow spoke about perspectives for medium-sized suppliers. The figures from the VDA’s head of SME policy and value chains are alarming: Nine out of ten companies no longer consider Germany to be competitive as a business location, and two-thirds are holding back planned investments.
The workshop on Germany as a business location also dealt with the burdensome cost structures. “What compensation measures are available? Which value creation activities can be implemented profitably? How can SMEs make greater use of locational advantages – such as dual training, university locations, research and development, well-established supply chains, established networks?” Hanni Koch, Managing Director of VIA Consult, discussed these pressing questions with the participants.
IBU focuses on the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises
The IBU also has the burning location problems at the top of its agenda. “Less cost pressure, more SME-friendly funding programs, simpler investment procedures, more skilled workers. The future of industrial SMEs depends on this,” Bernhard Jacobs emphasized. “The large number of topics once again shows that there is a fire in every corner of Germany as a business location. This makes it all the more important for our association work to focus on the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises,” concluded the IBU managing director after the event.