DETROIT — The German automotive engineering company EDAG Group has been helping automakers in Europe implement digital Industry 4.0 factory operations. Now those same automakers are enlisting EDAG to make similar factory changes in North America, says Jan Schulte, CEO of EDAG USA.

"German automakers are already very involved in this change. But now they're saying, why aren't we doing this in the U.S. market?

"We expect significant growth in the United States. Ford is talking about it. GM is talking about it."

But those auto plant transformations will have implications for North American suppliers, he said. It will require suppliers to get involved — meaning new tooling and process.

"The only way it works is with integrated suppliers," Schulte said. "You have to have your suppliers following your practices. So when this new practice comes into OEMs here, it will have to be introduced across their entire supply chain.

"It will be like the introduction of just-in-sequence practices," he added. "You can't achieve it unless everyone in the chain is participating."

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