responses courtesy of Fausto Carboni, CEO, Bonfiglioli
The Internet of Things & Connectivity
How do you see the Internet of Things shaping the direction of the heavy-duty vehicle markets?
With IoT, the heavy-duty market has an opportunity to integrate new functions in gearboxes related to machine function and performance. Features such as predictive maintenance and remote monitoring and assistance provide added benefits to OEMs because it allows them to have information on torque, temperature, speed, operating time, and vibration. This data can be used to monitor and improve performance of the gearbox and the machine, and to predict when maintenance might be needed. The end result is that machine downtime is greatly reduced or eliminated. When these technologies are integrated with other machine data, OEMs have even greater control and influence over machine productivity. Companies that are committed to implementing connectivity and sensorization in their products will better leverage on the actual technology platforms and bring them to the information system level.
Hybrids & Electrification
Is the future fully electric, or will there always be a need for engine/hydraulic supplementary power?
Hybridization and electrification offers huge advantages in terms of reduced consumption and reduced pollution. Construction equipment is already moving in this direction and we are on the eve of strong hybridization in the concrete industry. The market is still slow to adapt, though, because costs are still high and reliability is not yet proven by the market. In addition, energy storage is a limit, especially for machines that have intermittent cycles with high instantaneous power. However, electrification is the future and in the distant future, machinery will have an electric motor whenever possible. Trends will follow what is happening in the automotive sectors, including electric systems but for different production volumes.
Managing the Data Trend
How is your company utilizing data in new and valuable ways?
Big data availability will be a great opportunity to improve product performance and to help in designing products that are more and more suitable to each application. We are structuring to manage big data more efficiently and to integrate sensors into our products, which will help to continuously improve product design and performance.
Challenges & Opportunities
What new challenges have arisen that effect the way you design or manufacture your product? How you do business? How you go to market? How you differentiate yourself from the competition?
The major OEMs we work with are very demanding in terms of time to market, so we are always looking for ways to decrease the production process. There are a few ways we do this. One is by working with the OEMs from the beginning of their project, to co-engineer and develop dedicated solutions together. Working side-by-side with them, all stages are well planned and deployed, from the initial design to development, to process and product validations, decreasing the overall time to market for each new product. Second, we have set up testing equipment that is more advanced and more precise, which decreases product testing time while still guaranteeing a high-quality product. Third, we have made a commitment to get products to customers faster by establishing production facilities where our customers are located, all with the same processes and quality procedures worldwide. This is especially important for the big OEMs with branches all over the world, because we can realize our products near to where they are located, and decrease the amount of time it takes to get consistent, high-quality products to them.
The Global Landscape
What are your regions/markets of interest for expansion or investment you are looking at for future opportunities? Are there any new industries or applications you are exploring?
Our business approach is that we are a global player with local presence. Being in the local markets where our customers are, is a must for us, in order to give them a comprehensive service. Over time, we have enlarged our production footprint at our plants in India, China, USA, and Brazil, as well as in Italy and Germany. With this approach, we guarantee the same high quality standard in the engineering and product development at a local level.
We go where we see an interesting market. For instance, in USA we have developed a production plant and specific solutions for that market. This strategy protects us from any disadvantageous economic policies, in terms of customs duties and exchange rates that often affect the choice of customers. We will keep following this strategy based on market trends. With reference to the application, the future will be electrification and hybridization. Pollution regulations are increasingly severe for diesel and these are the main changes we have to focus on.