Global Support for Automotive Manufacturers and Suppliers

by donpedro

Rutronik Automotive Business Unit
With its newly founded Automotive Business Unit, the distributor Rutronik promises to provide focused support to manufacturers and suppliers on a global level. Uwe Rahn, Senior Manager and head of the Automotive Business Unit, explains this in detail in the interview below.

Uwe Rahn, Senior Manager and head of the Automotive Business Unit,
Rutronik Elektronische Bauelemente GmbH

What can customers expect from the new Automotive Business Unit?

Uwe Rahn: The customer will receive technical and commercial support at eye level from a team of experts with many years of experience in the automotive industry. We will be working in close cooperation and coordination with specially selected manufacturers. In addition, we will also be providing support to our European customers in their efforts to gain access to the American and Asian markets.

Which services in particular does this include?

Integrating electronics into automobiles on a mass scale due to increased networking, focusing a greater amount of attention on comfort, infotainment and assistance systems, not to mention e-mobility technology, has created the need for components, which originally were not even developed for automotive use. Any developer of new vehicles now faces huge challenges as a result of offering Internet connectivity in a vehicle and the more-or-less indirect communication with safety relevant systems, among other things. With our experience in both the automotive and electronics industries and our close ties to manufacturers, we can offer valuable support in these areas, allowing our customers to concentrate fully on their own applications.
Of key importance in our global business are the central information technologies that are available around the world. One important component here is our ability to centrally handle all PCNs and EOL messages in one database, which then makes them available worldwide to every customer and manufacturing service provider in the accustomed data quality. These IT systems are now being expanded step-by-step, by adding such information as standards and certifications, including AECQ-100 or 200, PPAP and APQP (Advance Product Quality Planning), Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) documents, and even VDA compliant process descriptions.
Process support is yet another important aspect. Many Tier 2 suppliers now have an even more stringent requirements profile. We can provide them with the support they need in developing and implementing processes similar to the support we provide to Tier 1 suppliers.
The third large component here is our ability to support our international customers in the North American and Asian markets.
To do so, we will make the focus of the business unit a global one by working hand-in-hand with the regional RUTRONIK branches and our manufacturers locally.

Which manufacturers do you cooperate with in the new business unit?

We will be gradually expanding this current network over the next few years, yet our focus will always be on quality, not quantity. Our selected partners will have to meet a range of criteria, which we consider to be absolutely necessary for our customers, primarily an innovative portfolio of automotive products and a global presence.

What does this cooperation with these partners look like?

The members in our unit deal very closely with the contacts among the group of manufacturers. They receive special training on working with the derivatives at a very early stage. On the other hand, we provide our manufacturers with information on the most current challenges that our customers face. We are the pulse of the market, so to speak. For several years now, we have been offering the Tech Days event, where a selected group of customers and our special manufacturers come together for a concentrated exchange of ideas. Typically, this is followed up by a customer-specific Expert Design Workshop with one manufacturer in particular. Here, a specific customer application and its system architecture are discussed.

What kind of products are currently being focused on?

In addition to the new semi-conductors in the micro-controller and MOSFET fields that are currently being developed for automotive applications specifically, these are, for example, MLCCs, which are ceramic multifaceted capacitors used in safety relevant applications. AVX has developed its own Automotive Plus series, which complies with the AEC-Q200 standard. These MLCCs are extremely reliable and resilient against mechanical and thermal influences.
Some products can even be used at temperatures up to 250°C. The new capacitors feature an extremely high current carrying capacity and high insulation resistance coupled with low ESR / ESL. They were developed for highly sophisticated applications, such as high pulse current switchings, aviation and aerospace technology as well as for use in hybrid automobiles.
Another example from the electromechanical range of products are the new crimp contacts, which we offer from JAE. They make it possible to connect any kind of wire to a circuit board quickly, easily and cost-effectively, yet while creating a connection that cannot be easily detached, featuring a high degree of electrical and mechanical reliability. In automotive applications, the connection is approved first. Not until then is the housing developed. Omitting this housing makes it possible to save costs considerably as well as a great amount of space.

Which applications do you feel currently have the greatest need for consulting?

These would certainly be such current trends as: e-mobility, car-to-car communication and networking within the vehicle, including infotainment, advanced driver assistance systems, so-called ADAS, and even autonomous driving in its various stages of development from driver only to assisted, partially assisted and highly to fully automatic. Moreover, with the constantly increasing safety requirements as per ISO 26262, which cover on-board applications in various voltage ranges from 12, 24, 48 and up to 450 volts for hybrid systems, there is a huge range of topics that require in-depth consultation.
LED lighting as well is still a huge topic. Today’s state-of-the-art applications for LED daytime driving lights have a power consumption of only about 15 watts – this while at the same time offering the ability to be more visible to other road users. This equates to savings of around 0.2 liters of gas per 100 kilometers, which equals 4 grams fewer CO2 emissions per driven kilometer.
The next phase of development in this field of application will be realized with OLEDs as of 2017. Where in the past the use of OLED technology was limited to high-resolution displays, for example, in the future they will also be used in automotive vehicles as a tail light or a turn signal. The main reason for their use in the future is that they require very little space and can also be designed as convex or concave light sources. However, OLEDs will also be a modernizing feature for the interior. Currently, they are being developed as ambient solutions in areas such as the footwell, the ceiling panel, the dashboard and door lighting in various design options.
Finally, the entire vehicle design concept is currently undergoing significant change as in hardly any other industry. These developments shift from mechanical to electronic innovations. This is why there is so much uncertainty and the need for consulting is extremely high right now. At the same time, European suppliers are under increased competitive pressure from new suppliers, especially from BRIC countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Here, we feel we are well positioned to offer our customers the support that they need.

What distinguishes the Automotive Business Unit for this purpose?

First of all our many years of experience. The automotive segment takes up more than 45 percent of our business at Rutronik and has thus always been one of the most important business segments. This means: We know what our customers need. We speak their language, know their processes, requirements and rules. And for many years we have also had close contacts with the most important manufacturers in this innovative sector.

This also applies to the range of products you have offered in the past. So why do you need a separate Business Unit?

Our aim is to bundle the specific support, expertise and synergies that the various manufacturers and their products can offer and make them available to our customers on a global level.

Would you like to briefly introduce the Business Unit?

Yes, I’d be happy to. Our team is made up of experienced special FAEs for automotive applications, who are supported by their colleagues from outside sales, inside sales and back office administrators. In addition, the automotive specialists act as an interface to the colleagues from the product sectors, such as power train, micro-controllers, passive or e-mechanical products. The global unit is managed by myself in the Ispringen headquarters. My business partner Lutz Henkel provides support to the North American market within the unit. We both have well over 25 years of experience in a number of positions at Tier 1 suppliers and distributors. Our colleagues in our branch offices around the world provide support to our customers locally and coordinate with us closely ■


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