Frugal manufacturing systems

Where will the sales markets for medium-sized German companies be in the future? The markets in the high-end sector are saturated in Germany and Europe. In threshold countries on the other hand, markets are growing at a very fast pace.

In these expanding threshold countries, German machinery and equipment manufacturers are being confronted with new needs and requirements. Whereas financially strong customers are mainly interested in the lifecycle costs of a machine, one of the most important criteria in these countries is the purchase price. The high-price German special machines are either too complex or too expensive for this mid-market segment, or take too long to be developed. What is needed are innovative solutions of a sufficient quality which can be rapidly implemented at low cost. For such solutions aimed at the new middle class, the term “frugal” has become established.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has forecast that about 4.8 billion people will make up this global middle class in 2030, with around 80 percent living outside Europe and the USA. They will have a higher income, which in turn will lead to increased demands and new customer wishes. Numerous machines and systems will be needed to manufacture products to satisfy these demands.

The concept is already being successfully implemented in the B2C sector, as well as in the medical engineering and service industries. There is also major potential in the B2B sector, which has already been recognized by a handful of well-known companies. For some years now, Fraunhofer IPA has concerned itself with the topic “frugal” with regard to manufacturing engineering, or machines, devices and equipment. In recent years, successful events have been held (workshops, conventions, lecture forums, etc.), among others with VDMA Baden-Wuerttemberg (the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association).