MAN Truck & Bus
It is crucial for us that we place the needs of our customer at the forefront.
Sandra Reich is Chief Digital Officer at MAN Truck & Bus Deutschland GmbH and together with colleagues she is advancing new digital mobility solutions.
"For me in my profession the future is already the present. Previously we were very technically oriented. But it's no longer in keeping with the times for a business to deliberate internally what customers could use in the future. I believe its extremely important to involve key customers as early as possible. We at MAN have our expertise in vehicles, our customers in their own specific fields like the construction sector or long-distance traffic. When we combine this and jointly consider what products and services could look like in the future then we find common solutions and thus create competitive advantages.
It is crucial for us that we place the needs of our customer at the forefront. So we're running various projects that involve conducting on-site interviews and observing processes. We are mainly interested in discovering the actual problems that the customer is facing. And how can we generate solutions to these issues?
A small, but good example is our app for the used vehicle sector. This enables colleagues in the field to produce product videos and use a platform to send them to customers. Simple photos don't really give customers a great impression of the vehicle and that's why we created this app. We use up-to-date opportunities and create the best possible transparency to offer a proper insight, and equally to improve customer relations.
When I'm asked how we can master the digital transformation, then for me the right mindset is a significant precondition. We can learn a lot from our talented youngsters or also from start-ups. They generally address an issue more dispassionately and just crack on with it. The concept: let's test that for a few days and if it doesn't add value we'll go with the next idea, is sensible. Our business often sets the bar too high. If an idea doesn't work we see it as failure. I think it makes a lot more sense to get away from that and say: if it doesn't work out, we try the next idea." Because early recognition of how a solution needs to be amended is immensely important.
Digital pioneer The mobility of tomorrow, the smart use of commercial vehicles and innovative thinking are the mission for Dr Sandra Reich.
IT specialist Boris Koller is establishing virtual and augmented reality in the design division.
"I find it fascinating to be at the cutting edge in the development of modern technology. It involves tremendous dynamism. The market is very quick in launching new products that really take us forward. Last year we developed a solution using virtual reality headsets, for example. Since then, colleagues in Munich can consult with colleagues at Scania in Stockholm via virtual conference. They see themselves as avatars and can jointly consider a virtual design. A second application uses augmented reality headsets. If someone is solving a problem at our site in Poland, then an expert at a monitor in Munich can look over their shoulder and see exactly what this colleague is looking at. AR and VR technology makes it possible to work across sites in real time. The advantage here is that the technology always enables perception of the true size of models, whereas this can be distorted by zooming in and out on a desktop monitor. The realistic size is what's observed.
Virtual prototypes not only save time, but also costs. Because they do away with some physical wood or clay models used in the classic process. The virtual data is also much more up-to-date; clay models are mostly based on data that is six to eight weeks old. I'm experiencing a high level of acceptance and a great enthusiasm among colleagues. That's a good sign."
Our Head of Strategy and Product Management at MAN is putting MAN on the right path to the mobility of the future.
"Alternative drives will change large parts of our business in the future. What begins slowly will develop rapidly in the coming years. In the long-term, I expect that autonomous driving will bring the biggest change when it comes to how trucks are handled and operated. Don't expect autonomous trucks on the roads before 2030; the traffic situation is simply too complex. Although hub-to-hub traffic on defined routes, or on demarcated areas like mines or terminals, will be automated earlier. We will see step-by-step automation of the traffic between warehouses – initially along motorways.
People often ask me whether e-mobility, hybrid or gas will be the drives of the future. I'm convinced we'll have a mix of drives in the near future. Diesel will still be part of this for a long time to come. But over the years we'll see battery-powered electric mobility prevail. It will power buses and distribution vehicles on our roads, just as we already see with the eTGE, the eTGM and very soon with the MAN Lion's City E electric bus. Such successes will also trickle down into other segments over time.
Most importantly, our strength in the lightweight vehicle classes helps us in electric mobility. We can gain practical experience at an early stage, for instance with the eTGE and the eTGM. This pleases our customers, who even now or in the next few years can be equipped with their first e-vehicles. Other manufacturers are enviously observing us.
We have repeatedly succeeded in reinventing ourselves over the last 150 years. That makes me confident we can achieve it again. We will manage the transformation if we deal proactively with the changes. Each of us can make their own contribution to this."
This is exactly what I love. That there's always something new; that we have so many training courses. And the matter of environmental protection is of course very important to me. Our electric vehicles mean we can make a contribution to that. They also make urban transport quieter. I think MAN is keeping pace well in the field of e-mobility."