Cologne: 09.–11.06.2026 #thetirecologne

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An Interview with Prof. Dr. Stefan Reindl

"Workshops need to strengthen their processes"

Digitalisation, vehicle networking, shortage of skilled workers - automotive businesses are facing major challenges. The transformation of workshops requires not only investment in equipment, but also new expertise. With the Future Workshop 4.0, Prof Dr Stefan Reindl offers an open platform for innovation and networking. We talk to him about the requirements for the workshop of tomorrow.

The transformation of workshops requires not only investment in equipment, but also new expertise. © Zukunftswerkstatt 4.0/Tobias Froehner Photography

Zukunftswerkstatt 4.0 - Tobias Froehner Photography

Future influencing factors

Prof Dr Reindl, what will make a workshop successful in the future?

The garages of the future will be subject to major changes due to a variety of influencing factors. They will therefore be structured differently, have a different focus in the aftersales and sales business, implement customised processes and be equipped differently. The key challenges in the aftersales business will result from the electrification of the drivetrain, increasing vehicle connectivity, the use of new and weight-saving materials and the increasing number and complexity of driver assistance systems installed.

Zukunftswerkstatt 4.0 combines concept and practice (Image: Prof. Dr. Stefan Reindl)

Zukunftswerkstatt 4.0 offers a combination of conceptual and practical solutions. © Prof. Dr. Stefan Reindl

Innovation hub Zukunftswerkstatt 4.0

How do you support workshops in this transformation?

Conceptually, the Future Workshop 4.0 maps the structures and processes of a car dealership in a realistic, practical and at the same time future-oriented way - a combination of conceptual and practical solutions that can be called up in the innovation radar.

In order to ensure a high level of acceptance and visibility in the industry, the Future Workshop is designed as an open platform involving all stages of the value chain, bringing together and networking automotive companies, car manufacturers, parts manufacturers, technology service providers, associations, trade media and educational institutions as partners.

Changed customer behaviour

Has customer behaviour changed for car dealerships and workshops?

Car customers are increasingly choosing their providers when purchasing a vehicle, but also when utilising services, depending on the specific purchase, maintenance and repair event - regular customers are becoming rare. They are also demanding digital customer contact points, which means that car dealerships and workshops need to strengthen their front-end and back-end processes with digital structures.

Customer journeys - the customer's journey to purchase - are always based on individual decisions and are therefore structured differently in terms of the sequence and utilisation of individual customer touch points. This presents companies with major challenges, as aligning operational processes with customer processes is a complex endeavour against the background outlined above.

Zukunftswerkstatt 4.0 maps workshop processes (Image: Zukunftswerkstatt 4.0)

Zukunftswerkstatt 4.0 realistically and practically depicts the processes of a car dealership. © Zukunftswerkstatt 4.0

Advantages of automated processes

How can digital solutions help to optimise service processes?

Digitalised and automated processes not only optimise the use of resources, particularly in the area of personnel. The level and structure of costs in companies can also be positively influenced - against the backdrop of the obvious shortage of skilled workers, there is even a compulsion to digitalise. However, automation with digital processes is also advantageous in terms of error prevention and increasing service quality as well as in administrative processes, as personnel capacities can be saved, particularly in back office areas.

What other benefits can be expected from the digitalisation of processes?

Thanks to constant online availability, company and customer processes can be synchronised - particularly with regard to scheduling, order coordination and customer communication and information. In the area of procurement and warehousing, the synchronised availability of spare parts not only saves costs and time, but also has a positive impact on the customer experience.

Connected systems

What role will connected vehicles play in the workshop of the future?

Connected systems are already available today and will gradually be incorporated into the vehicle population. The installed systems will not only have a positive impact on road safety, but should also be seen as enablers for autonomous driving.

In view of the driver assistance systems available today, it is already understandable that fewer traffic accidents and injuries will occur as a result. However, this does not necessarily reduce the costs per claim, as damage to sensors and actuators is associated with high costs. In addition, connectivity with intelligent networking of vehicles offers new approaches for comfort and convenience features.

Both driver assistance systems and convenience features based on connectivity and software components require new expertise in workshops as well as high investments in diagnostic infrastructure and workshop equipment.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Reindl (Image: Prof. Dr. Stefan Reindl)

Prof. Dr. Stefan Reindl © Prof. Dr. Stefan Reindl

Lecture on the workshop of the future

Professor Dr Stefan Reindl is Scientific Director and CEO of the Institute of Automotive Economics (IfA), where he is responsible for a large number of research projects. He is also Professor of Automotive Economics at the Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Umwelt and Managing Director of Zukunftswerkstatt 4.0.

In a presentation at THE TIRE COLOGNE 2024 entitled "Customer behaviour and business models in transition", he will take a close look at the workshop of the future.


Leif Hallerbach I Broekman+Partner