In this edition of 'Spotlight on...', MARELLI have provided us with the following insights into recent challenges and also their current projects:
As MARELLI suspends North American operations due to COVID-19, how quickly do you think the industry will recover once it is brought under control?
Marelli as almost every other automotive company around the world, whether a carmaker or a tier N supplier, has suspended or reduced operations in every region. The markets stopped completely, from dealers to carmakers and all along the supply chain. This is an unprecedented, never seen before and unexpected situation at a global level.
As this is not just an Automotive or Financial Crisis the dynamics of the markets coming back depend on many factors and will vary by region and country. While it will not be an overnight restart, we trust that the market will pick up throughout this year. But the time in which this process of restart will take place is not easy to define and is complex.
The highest priority of every company and organisation is the health and safety of their employees and communities they serve in. So first of all, all companies have to strictly follow the safety guidelines coming from governments and local authorities as we exit lockdowns. For Marelli, we have already outlined our plans to ensure the safety and protection of employees upon restart.
As the entire automotive supply chain is a globally dependant network and has come to a complete standstill, restarting it will be a monumental undertaking. Operations in different Countries, Regions, States and sometime cities will have different ramp up timelines and speeds. Additionally consumer demands might vary between before and after the crisis driving different needs for options and certain platforms.
But beyond that, the general situation in most part of the world and the battle against the virus has to reach a level of effectiveness that allows people to be free to go out, move, work again and, at one point, also to buy cars again. This sequence of events will eventually drive consumer confidence, market growth and fuel demands, ultimately carmakers and supplier will follow this trend. As said, it will take some time.
As the automotive industry adopts new power sources and new mobility solutions while the world demands better environmental protection, what do you see as the major opportunities and challenges in your business?
Like with all challenges, with all the negative consequences there are also opportunities. The industry has learned to collaborate globally remotely, the need for safe mobility will fuel new markets and refocussed values will drive new solutions.
Marelli, along with the rest of our industry, is adapting to the changing needs of customers and societies by combining our proven strengths of the past with our willingness to shape the future through investment in CASE: Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric. The opportunities and challenges lies in the five technological domains that we consider as MARELLI scope of activity:
Evolve in a complete e-Powertrain system supplier with the scope of managing, controlling and optimizing the complete flow of electric and thermal energy in Electric Vehicles. Leveraging on the Technology transfer from race (F1, Formula E) to road, and a proven track record in mass production components, the production focuses on leading edge technologies for maximizing power density and efficiency: from 800V systems, to high revolution speed e-motors, from state of the art battery cooling systems to SiC (Silicon carbide) power inverter.
Empowering the vehicle’s and the user’s communication systems to maximize experience and safety onboard Marelli works with a multi-level approach on this topic, from 4G and 5G Telematic Boxes ready to host V2X communication protocol, to cybersecurity SW & HW Solutions.
Provide and integrate systems dedicated to Sense, to perceive, to analyze, to predict and to act consequently in order to ensure the best comfort delivering the ultimate magic carpet ride experience. Thanks to stylish, smart and technical solutions for level 4 and level 5 ADAS Systems, Marelli has a strong background on sensor development and integration on innovations that copes to the sensing phase requested for Autonomous Driving.
Meet the C.A.S.E. paradigm’s new challenges with fine, seamless and smooth integration and interaction between human and machine for more comfort, a safer ride, and a smarter interaction. HMI seamless integration, translucent skin and switches, Head Up Display AR Envisics on windshield, Multiscreen integration, cockpits big displays, are just few of the solutions that concur to enhance the experience of the rider.
ICE & CHASSIS EFFICIENCY
Emission Protocol compliancy in all markets, with solutions aimed to cover the whole propulsion system, from Pumps, and Injectors, to Transmissions, TCUs and Dynamics Control ECUs, granting the maximum efficiency of the ICE engines. Moreover, Marelli specializes as well on Heat recovery Systems and Innovative systems for CO2 and Weight reduction, covering with optimized solutions the whole flow of energy creation and dissipation.
The merger of Calsonic Kansei and Magneti Marelli is showing to be a collaborative success, can you see further opportunities for knowledge sharing in the automotive industry?
Absolutely yes and that’s the spirit that first drove these two companies together and that now is leading the integration process. That’s also the spirit that characterized the strategy and the main achievements of MARELLI in this first year. Enlarging the possibility of sharing or integrating knowledge and know-how is at the base of our partnerships with Smart Me Up and Xenomatix, for example, in the field of key ADAS, assisted and autonomous driving technologies, such as perception software and solid state LIDARs. Our strong focus on forming strategic partnerships is also demonstrated through the agreement we reached with China’s Highly, which gives us better access to the Chinese market, and our partnership with Transphorm Inc, a US-based semiconductor company focused on redefining power conversion. This partnership will enable Marelli to gain valuable access and insights into cutting edge technologies for the development of electric powertrain solutions, in particular Gallium Nitride based solutions for power converters, onboard chargers and inverters for electric and hybrid vehicles.
Another important project of shared knowledge and competence, is between Marelli’s Automotive Lighting Division and the BMW Group called “PartChain”. This is an application based on blockchain technology to optimize supply chain management holistically. This project has introduced the use of blockchain technology to enhance the management of automotive supply chains, creating a distributed peer-to-peer network to connect suppliers’ and carmakers’ plants around the world. The use of this technology – which is based on the real-time exchange of “blocks” of immutable and verifiable data – improves traceability of automotive components and raw materials, allowing for more efficient and reliable transactions and operations, bringing advantages to all the players in the value chain.
In common with all companies in the automotive space, recruiting top talent is a key priority. Are you finding particular areas in which the supply of qualified candidates cannot meet your demand? Do you expect this to get better or worse over the next few years?
The mobility industry is changing at a never seen pace. Autonomous, Connected, Electric and the overall change of business models inside the mobility space is creating a huge demand for new talent with new skills and experiences. Software architecture, Connectivity services, Electric and thermal powertrain, additive manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence, digital twins and simulation – we can go on and on with capabilities that go far beyond what the automotive industry is used to.
Marelli faces the needs to recruit and continue to train employees to ensure not only to retain its current workforce, but even guarantee the right blend of skills and education. The engineering and manufacturing talent shortage represents a major challenge. Its impact is both global and local. The need to tackle this challenge is not dependent upon revenue size of each business unit or upon organizational demographics. Being an employer of choice is a task that requires new approaches in communication and marketing as well understanding future generational expectations on the work environment and new ways of collaboration.
These demands as well as the totally different availability of data will trigger also huge changes in our engineering educational systems. Colleges and Universities will have to adapt to the new needs.
This is why we need to maintain a great network with all stakeholders capable to provide effective candidates in strategic areas, such as Autonomous Driving, Artificial Intelligence and Software Engineering, just to mention again some concrete examples of recent candidates searches.
FISITA thanks MARELLI for their insights. For more information on MARELLI please visit their membership page