03. September 2018, 14:17 Uhr | Ingo Kuss
»Small and medium-sized enterprises must expend a lot of time and energy to keep up with the latest tariffs and regulations that apply to specific manufacturing sites and supply chains.«
Let’s get back to the present: From a strategic perspective, where do you see the greatest need for action at dSpace?
In many places we are known as the leading provider of hardware and software products for the development and testing of mechatronic control systems – we have a very good market position. This stems from our ability to innovate, our global strategy, and our strong customer orientation, not to mention our highly motivated, culturally diverse team, which is guided by fairness and mutual respect. Since February, I have visited 25 key accounts and received a lot of positive feedback from these customers. We have a number of opportunities for optimizing processes and infrastructure, in addition to expanding our international reach and positioning our brand more effectively. And when it comes to innovations for autonomous driving and e-mobility, we will continue to lead and set the pace.
What specific changes do you want to make?
Whenever infrastructures have evolved over time, there is always a risk that a certain amount of efficiency may be lost. Right now our supply chain comprises many separate steps: order entry, scheduling, purchasing, manufacturing, warehousing, and shipping. We can optimize our infrastructures and boost productivity by integrating many process steps and consolidating responsibilities to achieve smoother and more consistent workflows. In terms of career development, there should be – from my perspective – a clear line within human resources that distinguishes between technology specialists and management experts. This sharpens the focus of HR when it comes to finding the best talents to fill key leadership positions, with an emphasis on potential candidates who are already on the dSpace team.
The automotive sector is experiencing three major trends: e-mobility, autonomous driving, and connectivity. What role do they play at dSpace?
These trends are closely related to each other and play a very significant role here at dSpace. Just look at the e.Go Mover from Aachen, Germany. This vehicle is a small electric bus featuring a high level of automation and connectivity. To develop functions for autonomous driving, specialists are using our MicroAutoBox, a real-time system for performing rapid prototyping. And if you go to Paris, you will likely see the autonomous shuttle bus known as Navya Arma, which was developed with our multisensor application platform RTMaps. We are leaders in the field of e-mobility and offer complete solutions for various areas of application. These products include simulators for electric motors and inverters, as well as tools for validating charging stations and battery management systems. Furthermore, realistic simulations of road conditions and specific driving situations are important to the development of solutions for autonomous driving, which is why the virtualization of traffic environments plays a key role in our broad portfolio of simulation solutions.
How do these trends impact product development?
We are expanding our development and engineering workforce considerably. In addition to building on our core competencies, we are also moving into new fields like cloud computing and artificial intelligence. In some areas, we are already collaborating with partners who have the know-how we are looking for. In terms of specific products, these trends mean that we are constantly boosting the performance of the hardware platforms we offer. This ongoing increase in performance is necessary for prototyping, where complex algorithms and neural networks – all of relevance to AI – are calculated so that radar, lidar, or camera sensors can receive, process, and merge signals.
The testing of self-learning systems poses a special challenge because these systems can constantly change their behavior.
To overcome such challenges we participate in research projects like Pegasus, which is focused on the development of testing techniques and standards that can be used to approve or certify autonomous vehicles. And to stay competitive in the area of AI solutions, we will be applying our own artificial intelligence to our testing systems. We have already made sure that we have this kind of expertise available at dSpace, and we will continue to expand and enhance this expertise. Our aspiration is to provide our customers with full support along the entire process chain, beginning with the development phase and ending with final approval and certification.
In May, dSpace opened a new site in the USA, not far from its headquarters there, and a new project center in Great Britain opened its doors in July. The company also has regional dSpace companies in France, Japan, and China. What is the significance of these international sites for dSpace?
Doing business internationally is very important to us: Today we generate about 70 percent of our sales in foreign markets. As I mentioned earlier, we see the continuing growth of internationalization as a great business opportunity. For example, we are currently reviewing processes to determine which ones could be globalized – just like those in sales and support. We already conduct engineering and assembly processes in the USA. This kind of approach – think globally, act locally – supports closeness to our customers and speeds up all kinds of business transactions. In the near future, we will be opening our own development site in Croatia. Of course, Paderborn remains the backbone of our operations.