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Ivan ERENDA, Ph.D., CEO, TPV AUTOMOTIVE d.o.o.
1. In your opinion, how has the Automotive Tech landscape evolved over the years? What are some of the advantages of the current technological evolution?
The automotive tech landscape has been subjected to the similar industry evolution we are witnessing in other fields, with industry 4.0 bringing automation as a key factor in the production of parts that are cost-efficient, lightweight, and reliable. With industry 5.0 on the horizon, introducing data storing and managing as a big factor for future production, we as a development company must always strive to be ahead of the competition and introduce new technologies with every new project. Moreover, with that mindset and competitiveness present in the automotive industry, the industry itself is in some way forced to develop faster. One of the most useful tools in this process, that we also efficiently use in TPV AUTOMOTIVE, is the virtualization of product, production line. Right now, we are able to fully visualize and test the product even before the first part has even been produced. We are able to walk through the production line and look at the robots, before the first robot has even been put into the line. This way we are able to optimize the time from design to production, optimize its functionality, and produce more cost-efficient and reliable products, which is the key in the automotive industry. One of the most talked about topic right now is also the electric mobility as a future of the automotive industry. With the introduction of e-mobility, the whole industry is now stepping up its game to steer ahead of its competition. In some way, e-mobility could be problematic for some of the big traditional tier-1 players in the industry with the need to adapt their conventional way of thinking and conventional tools to the new challenges the field of electrification presents. On the other hand, this gives the new players in the industry and smaller development companies the advantage over the big players as there in less need for them to adapt and are able to focus more on the e-mobility itself, resulting in faster evolution and progress. Therefore, the evolution of automotive landscape presents numerous possibilities for big players as well as small development and start-up companies.
"With industry 5.0 on the horizon, introducing data storing and managing as a big factor for future production, we as a development company must always strive to be ahead of the competition and introduce new technologies with every new project"
2. What according to you are some of the challenges plaguing the Automotive Tech landscape and how can they be effectively mitigated?
The biggest challenges are related to cost effectiveness, competitiveness, and environmental impact. In addition, all those problems can be tracked back to the end customer itself. From the first car that has been made available to the broad public, the customer expectation has been on the steep climb. Each customer wants to have the most reliable car, have the best-looking car, have a touch screen with numerous applications, and so on. With the evolution of the technology in general, more and more driving assistance products and software have been introduced, the interior upgrades of the car, the exterior upgrades. Moreover, with the evolution of technology, the before expensive additional equipment has now become more accessible to the broader public, which is in fact the wish of an end customer. This however is the never-ending circle, because with so many improvements and innovations being presented to the automotive industry the customer expectation is always going to be greater and greater, while the need to make those products inexpensive will be the focus for us, the design and development companies. For TPV AUTOMOTIVE as a development and production company, this means that we need to optimize the design and development of the product, focus on the research, produce cost-efficient parts, and produce reliable parts fast. In order to do this, we need to invest into innovation, design and development of parts and production, introduce new technologies into our production lines, use all the virtual tools that are at our disposal and strive to develop new tools and products to enhance our overall effectiveness.
3. Which are a few technological trends influencing Automotive Tech today? What are some of the best practices businesses should adopt today to steer ahead of competitors?
One of the biggest trends in the industry is the introduction of e-mobility. As mentioned before, the field of e-mobility is relatively new, meaning that none of the big players have the edge over the smaller companies when it comes to the knowledge and experience in the field. That presents numerous possibilities for all companies, no matter the size.
The OEM and big tier 1 companies are now, for once, forced to compete with the smaller companies looking to take their part in this field and in the automotive industry in general, as electrification seems to be the future of automotive industry. This creates a lot of good competitiveness in the industry resulting in an amazing rate of evolution in electrification and in other engineering fields as well. With the rate at which the progress is done, the companies are in some way forced to introduce new technologies, new tools, it encourages innovation and helps the industry develop faster. Normally the smaller companies that are battling the industry looking for new opportunities and to prove themselves, are more flexible in terms of adaptation to new technologies, are more enthusiastic, and willing to step out of the confines of tradition, and from this point of view are able to steer ahead of bigger competitors. TPV AUTOMOTIVE has made good use of this opportunity and we are becoming one of the key development suppliers in the field of e-mobility to the most demanding OEMs, especially in the field of battery tray and connecting assemblies, where our competitive advantage also lies in technology and process competencies. The fast development also means that the industry 4.0, bringing automation, might not have fully settled into the production, while the companies are already forced to look forward towards industry 5.0, to keep in touch with the leaders in the automotive industry. Encouragement of innovation, virtualisation, automation, and investment into research and development are the key practices to follow.
4. Do you have any advice for industry veterans or budding entrepreneurs from the Automotive Tech space?
You can ask this question on an on again, and ask as many people as you want and every time you will get a bit different answer. And that is because with the field of engineering in general evolving and progressing so fast, there is always a need to quickly adapt to the new technologies and sometimes change our traditional approach to solving some of the challenges we are faced with today. But, no matter how the industry might evolve and however we will need to adapt to the changes, there will always be some basic principles to follow. Being flexible and open to adaptation of new technology trends, thinking outside of the confines of tradition and invest in research and development. Focus your effort on the key projects and do not try to be everywhere at once. Get your ideas out into the industry to get the big companies attention, create your own opportunities and do not just wait around for them to come to you. With so many new trends and so many new challenges in the industry today, there are numerous possibilities for everyone to go around, we just need to take them.