responses courtesy of John Dennehy, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Climate Control Systems Special Markets, Eberspaecher North America
The Internet of Things & Connectivity
How do you see the Internet of Things shaping the direction of the heavy-duty vehicle markets?
IoT is being used now for engine diagnostics, uploading ECU software fixes, predictive maintenance and in some cases information for earthmoving. I think that there are similarities between in all heavy-duty mobile equipment very much like heavy-duty trucks.
How is your company integrating IoT solutions into your workspace, or what is your perceived plan for implementation and the benefits you foresee with its implementation?
IoT is used by the sales force for CRM, is also used for safety when using a rental car – connecting cell phones to the cars audio system for phone calls, turn by turn directions by Google Maps or iPhone maps.
It is being used for some heater controllers that emit a WiFi signal so that the heater can be controlled using a cell phone or a laptop or tablet, also being intergrated with vehicle CANbus System.
How has this concept influenced how you approach technology development and new ideas?
Eberspaecher has recently acquired a few small some automotive control upstarts with new products being developed with IoT in mind.
The Future of Diesel
There are several opinions on the future of the diesel engine market. With large metropolitan cities like Paris and Madrid announcing diesel bans by 2040, it seems there is a presupposed end to diesel reliance. Where do you see diesel playing a role in heavy-duty applications in the long run?
There is a misconception that diesel will be completely replaced by CNG/LNG or electrification and that this will happen quickly. The media and NGOs have pushed hard for this and governments have gone along with massive subsidies and investments regardless of how dubious the ideas. Areas of construction are more available to electrification than others are, where electricity is readily available for recharging or for operation.
Any expectation for significant shifts in diesel engine technology or expectations in the near term?
Diesel engines burn very clean today. The main issue is CO2. If a way can be found to reduce CO2 emissions, then diesel will be difficult to replace.
Automation Advancements & Smart Systems
What technology is the most significant contributor to the progress of vehicle automation?
CANbus technology – all machine components communicating with each other.
How does your company contribute to autonomous systems development and success?
Engines still require preheat & in some cases, supplemental heat – regardless of how automated they are. Eberspaecher heaters with CANBUS technology are being introduced as this is being written and additionally we have a exhaust division that works on “active sound.”
Hybrids & Electrification
What technological limitations currently exist that are impeding the ability to harness the full potential of hybrid power systems?
- Size of batteries needed to power high-horsepower demands.
- Need for longer run times on a single charge.
- Time needed to recharge.
- Charging infrastructure (or lack thereof).
Is the future fully electric, or will there always be a need for engine/hydraulic supplementary power?
Until technology provides answers to the above, size and cost will keep full electrification for becoming mainstream.
Managing the Data Trend
How is your company utilizing data in new and valuable ways?
Recently a company-wide, world-wide CRM system was introduced, sales forecasting, industry segment analysis are all benefits we see by using utilizing data.
What value is this providing to your company and customers?
- The ability for expertise in one corner of the world to be applied to a place a half a world away.
- Information sharing on a worldwide scale.
- Customer contact information regardless of where in the world a query is being made.
- Accurate forecasting and Projections
Where do you see data leading the industry? What is its potential?
Leaner manufacturing, better resource allocation, better customer intelligence.
Several manufacturers are now investing in data analyst and programmer experts to shape the direction of their company and its use of data. What is your company’s end goal with data?
- To penetrate market segments not yet fully explored.
- World-wide sharing of knowledge to better serve these markets.
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?
- Foreign knock-off competition putting pricing pressure on the bottom line.
- Product quality and innovation is the primary differentiator.
- Products are sold to OEMs, their dealers & independent distribution.
Has the rate of technological advancement (for example, the rapid emergence of data products) had any impact on business decisions, development, or product performance and client expectations?
- Clients have a greater expectation of 24/7 availability.
- The change to CANBUS is driving product change
What is your company’s opportunity to impact the marketplace with a unique product, capability or offering?
Eberspaecher is moving to become a complete climate control systems provider. A/C, heat, battery driven as well as conventional AC.
The Global Landscape
Has the recent nationalism focus for several key countries, including the U.S., altered the way you evaluate international opportunities, work with global partners, or any part of your business currently? Do you see an impact in the future?
It is a concern, but Eberspaecher is a truly worldwide company. We have employees manufacturing & distribution in both Canada & the USA (as well as many other countries in the world.)
What are your regions/markets of interest for expansion or investment you are looking at for future opportunities?
Eberspaecher is looking at several market segments to expand our sales reach. On highway truck has been a North American mainstay and success story, however, we have products for cars, light trucks, ambulances, off-highway/construction machines, the energy industry, rail, stationary power generation, recreational vehicles, & vocational applications.
What key policies are you watching closely that could impact your business, either positively or negatively?
- Government legislation on idling for both on and off highway.
- Patent infringement by foreign competitors.
- Government incentives for idle reduction technologies.