MAN Truck & Bus

Stephan Schütt, Chefentwickler Kabine/Chassis (links) und Dr. Manuel Marx, Leiter der Gesamtfahrzeugentwicklung von MAN (rechts), stehen vor einem neuen MAN TGX

Thinktank for trucks

10/02/2020

Five years of hard work, intense teamwork and gruelling test runs are behind them. Manuel Marx and Stephan Schütt managed it. Their idea on paper has been transformed into a production-ready new truck. A visit to the 
chief developers at MAN. 

Components under test Manuel Marx, head of overall vehicle development at MAN (in the red pullover), and Stephan Schütt, lead developer of the cab/chassis (in the blue suit), personally reviewed many of the work steps on the new TG. The radiator support on the new TG was optimised again after cracks had occurred during a long-term application test

The trucks and buses of the future will be built in a specific location: the A60 building in Munich. Only insiders can access the EPI centre (experimentation, prototype and innovation centre) at the MAN premises. Two security barriers protect the secret development work from prying eyes. 360 engineers develop new vehicle concepts in an area of 33,000 square metres. One of them is Dr Manuel Marx. The head of MAN’s overall vehicle development doesn’t wear a suit or lab coat, but jeans and a pullover. "We are not freaks in an ivory tower who develop crazy inventions," says Marx. "Our projects are geared to the needs of our customers. The results have to correctly balance the benefits and costs in ­order to be marketable." 

One example of Marx’s latest "baby" is standing in front of him in the development workshop. The head of development is proud and almost affectionate about the golden paintwork on a new MAN TGX. Manuel Marx has devoted himself primarily to this vehicle for the past five years of his professional life. "We have significantly improved the man truck’s strengths, corrected its weaknesses and prepared it for the future using new EE architecture," he concludes. "This is now the most optimally balanced truck." The MAN developers paid special attention to the driver’s cab in the new TG. Stephan Schütt was responsible for its modernisation. Unlike his colleague Manuel Marx, the chief designer of the cab/chassis prefers a classic suit. But when you see how the two joke around together in a good mood, it becomes clear: the duo is a well-oiled team. They enjoy working together on new ideas. "We have deliberately focused on the truck driver during our development. Our task was to understand how to make it easier for drivers to perform their duties and also improve their living and sleeping comfort," Schütt tell us. 

Ein MAN TGX steht ohne Aufbau in der Münchner Entwicklungswerkstatt

A new MAN truck in the development workshop The developers are only satisfied if the truck meets all the requirements in terms of functionality, robustness, design and efficiency.

Outside evolution, inside revolution

The inside of the cab has therefore been completely redesigned, while the muscular exterior design has been carefully refined to preserve the MAN brand identity. Stephan Schütt brings the innovation behind the new truck generation to the point with the following phrase: "Outside evolution, inside revolution." Until the truck took shape, however, the developers at MAN were extremely busy.

Ideas for the successor model were germinated a few years after introduction of the first TGX in 2010. "It’s time to think about optimisation as soon as a vehicle reaches a certain cycle and is being used by lots of transport companies," explains Manuel Marx, describing how development of the next truck generation began. Suggestions and new requirements came from several sides: from MAN’s specialist departments and primarily from MAN’s customers, who brought suggestions for improvements to the previous truck family. Legal requirements regarding crash safety, which will apply from 2021, also played a role in these considerations: MAN has to launch the new model by then at the latest. "The development of a truck is much more complex than that of a car," states Stephan Schütt. "We have not only modernised a single vehicle model, but our entire product portfolio. Such a project is not easy to manage. The longer development cycles for trucks meant that only a few employees in the company had experience of introducing such a completely updated product." The team of more than 200 MAN employees did however manage the process.

Working on the technology of the future 360 engineers in the MAN EPI centre are developing the commercial vehicle concepts of tomorrow. The building has extensive workshop areas on five floors.

Milestones


Continuous optimisation

As true perfectionists, Manuel Marx and Stephan Schütt are constantly looking for ways to improve the new products. So there is always a lot of activity in the A60 building. New TGs with ephemeral camouflage patterns drive out of the development building onto the streets of Munich. Even just a few months before launch, the new truck continued to be extensively tested to optimise the last details. From the vantage of a roof terrace, Marx and Schütt look down onto a test track with very uneven cobblestones. This vibration-inducing track is used for load simulation. "Here alone, the new TG completed 30,000 kilometres to test permanent stability of the components," explains Stephan Schütt. The test drivers had be replaced after half an hour so they didn’t suffer any health problems due to vibration – that’s how rigorous the load test is. The developers are only satisfied if the truck meets all the requirements in terms of functionality, robustness, design and economy. "Not all ideas from pre-development reach the production stage. I’m especially proud that we realised the MAN SmartSelect rotary actuator in the new cockpit," says Stephan Schütt. "It’s a revolution in ease of use."

Text Felix Enzian
Photos Dirk Bruniecki

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