Deep dives and precise planning

Technology roadmapping: How the experts from FEV Consulting find the perfect technology for their customers

3. June 2016 | Consulting

Since FEV Consulting was founded in 2011, Technology Roadmapping has been an important part of our product portfolio. On the very first project in the company‘s history, the service line began with roughly 80 technologies on the radar, using an Excel-based solution to help FEV experts document technologies and generate reports. Since then, FEV Consulting has continuously improved its approach to Technology Roadmapping. Today, the information we use is stored in a database and encompasses more than 450 technologies from different areas of powertrain and overall vehicle engineering.

What is FEV Technology Roadmapping?

The approach used in FEV Technology Roadmapping helps us to structure the fuzzy front end, that is, the early phase of technology scouting in an innovation process. In this phase, we encounter many technologies that are either nested in the early stages of research, are starting the initial steps in design, or are already moving on to advanced prototyping. Uncovering these trends, describing them, and assessing them are key elements in early technology scouting. Though it proves challenging to OEMs and suppliers, it is extremely important to the strategic decision-making of both.

FEV‘s Technology Roadmapping process is an efficient solution for documenting technologies—whether in the early stage of development or already established. FEV consultants usually try to answer three crucial questions:

• What current and future trends and drivers will influence the research and development of relevant products?
• What relevant technologies or concepts are known, and what impact do they have?
• When will the technologies reach both maturity and relevant market penetration?

When reporting on trends and drivers, we analyze global mega-trends as well as the ensuing specific drivers. Our experts tap into their worldwide network, attending relevant lectures and trade fairs, conducting interviews among key industry players, suppliers, and end customers, or analyzing legislation that may become important in the next 20 years.

When working on projects, we focus on the client‘s specific constraints and requirements. While considering a client‘s individual product environment, the client‘s core competencies and, if necessary, specially-requested technology topics, the service line identifies technologies — whether already in series development or just now in an early stage of research — that are of special interest to the client. They are generally identified through interviews conducted with selected FEV experts, analysis of lectures and literature, and attendance at conferences and trade fairs. We then draw up a standardized report on the technologies for the client. The report describes the operating principle; explains the advantages, disadvantages, and interactions with other technologies; and assesses the potential for use in a variety of applications, including passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, industrial, marine and railroad applications. As our most unique selling point, FEV Consulting offers its clients what we call „technology deep dives,“ in which the experts from FEV elaborate on selected topics with in-depth technical details and numerous case studies taken from simulations or measurements. Finally, the technologies are evaluated based on a variety of client-specific criteria and designated scales to determine their influence on predefined technology packages. The criteria include factors such as fuel consumption, emissions, performance, weight, and cost. The criteria are then expanded to include criteria tailored to the client‘s needs — for example, exhaust system parameters or important constraints for certain system components — in order to offer clients the greatest possible benefit.

To create our technology roadmaps, we hold expert workshops to discuss both the maturity of the technology and possible market penetration scenarios. They are performed on different applications (gasoline or diesel passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, farming and construction equipment, etc.) and for different regions (Europe, US, China, Japan, India, etc.), so that we get a detailed overview of which technologies will become established for which application, in which region, during which period of time, and with which level of market penetration.

Technology Roadmapping

 

New Product Opportunities Thanks to Roadmapping and Deep Dives

Over the past few years, numerous clients have used Technology Roadmapping to identify and evaluate new product opportunities. The FEV consultants select technologies that could be of interest to the client, either because they fit in with client core competencies in the area of products and/or production technology or they match the client‘s strategic orientation. They usually make their selection following early technology scouting during the innovation process.

To decide whether the technologies will actually be a reasonable addition to the client‘s current portfolio, we subject them to another, more detailed process of evaluation. Known as Phase 2, it involves a market and industry structural analysis, in which FEV determines factors such as market volume and growth potential, examines the intensity of competition, and researches patents. With the aid of the findings, our experts can estimate whether a technology will be profitable.

At the same time, they check the technology to see how functional it will be, generally as part of an intensive technology deep dive. This examination explains in detail how the technology operates, what advantages and disadvantages exist, how it affects other technologies and concepts, what main competitors exist, and what potential there is for distinguishing the technology on the global market. In workshops held with the client, our consultants specify and document possible product ideas and improvements early on. They also calibrate skills required with those that the client already has, thereby revealing any gaps.

Afterwards, if a technology still shows promise, FEV will devise a scenario for implementing it. First, however, the client must decide what level of production to carry out internally and which parts it wishes to source from outside suppliers. The client also needs to decide whether it wants to be a pioneer in bringing the technology to market or if it would rather be a fast follower or a „me-too.“ Based on this estimate, the consultants then define what to do and when — with respect to research and development, production and procurement, as well as sales — in order to meet a desired start date for production.

In the final step, senior management can use this information to decide how to fund the development of the technology internally.

Roadmapping

How do clients benefit?

OEMs and suppliers worldwide use the results of the FEV Technology Roadmapping process in a variety of ways. FEV enables clients to assess technological developments in terms of their maturity, market relevance, and impact on other technology concepts. For example, clients can deduce their future R&D budgets, develop new product ideas, appropriately target their marketing strategies, or even tap into new areas of business. The results combine the knowledge from nearly 40 years of FEV history — a unique selling point that underscores the high quality of FEV‘s Technology Roadmapping.

What have we done since 2011?

Since our beginnings in 2011, the FEV Technology Roadmapping approach has been consistently improved and refined, both in terms of content and functionality. Though FEV started with just under 80 technologies and one application in 2011, we now work with a database currently containing over 450 technologies and a large number of applications and markets. In the last five years, our experts have successfully advised many different clients around the world. The technologies are by far no longer devoted to just the engine itself; they also encompass technologies in transmissions, alternative fuels, various concepts for electrification, batteries and fuel cell technologies, and the overall vehicle (lightweight design, for instance). The number of applications has also grown. FEV started with agricultural equipment, but we now work with passenger cars (gasoline and diesel), commercial vehicles, a wide range of mobile machinery, locomotives, marine applications, generators, and projects in the aviation and wind power industries.

CASE EXAMPLE: SEEKING AND FINDING THE IDEAL TECHNOLOGY

Alexander Gulden from thyssenkrupp on the necessity of building more efficient vehicles and how Technology Roadmapping helped the Group to implement new product ideas.

Dr. Gulden, thyssenkrupp, as an automotive industry supplier, is also active in the powertrain area. What challenges are you currently facing?

Dr. Alexander Gulden: Given that regulation makers are demanding a significant reduction of CO2 emissions, the vehicles have to become more efficient. To do this, we need new technologies. In addition to the well-known combustion engines, the hybrid drive is therefore becoming more and more important, as are electric vehicles.

How are you preparing for these topics?

Our mission is to identify projects for which we are able to provide our specific expertise and skills as a diversified technology group in order to generate added value for our clients from the automotive industry.

What role did FEV Consulting play in all this?

Dr. Gulden: We already knew FEV to be a skilled development partner. FEV Consulting combines the technical expertise of FEV with the abilities of a management consulting firm. The Technology Roadmapping concept that the consultants presented to us won us over. The evolution of the projects and the results confirmed our expectations.

Can you go into more detail? What particularly impressed you?

Dr. Gulden: Over the course of the project, we received a proven specialist perspective on development trends in powertrain technology. We have had in-depth technical discussions. We were thus able to compare our own assessments and discover new information. At the same time, the structured project approach made sure we did not lose sight of our goal. Out of a wide variety of product options, the consultants identified the most attractive ones for us in a step-by-step process using interesting workshops.

How is the project result helping you now?

Dr. Gulden: Out of more than 450 technology choices, FEV Consulting selected 7 that are attractive for us. In addition to the technical implementation, the market and competition situation was comprehensively assessed; product development processes were created. In doing so, all the necessary core competencies for development and production were established. This enabled us to clearly see which specialist areas within thyssenkrupp had to be involved. At the end of the day, that is our success – we now know how to successfully implement the selected new product ideas with our know-how.

Contact:
Dr. Michael Wittler
wittler@fev.com

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