Importance of thermal management for automotive development
Simon, you've been part of the company since 2006 - how did your career start with us back then and develop over the years?
It seems like only yesterday to me. I joined ARRK Engineering 16 years ago as a graduate student. At that time, the department I worked for was still called Design in Body Development. The topic was related to a resource management for large construction projects in the automotive segment. The aim was to be able to act quickly and with as little risk as possible in the event of an order. Broadly speaking, the aim was to build up an extensive network of partners without at the same time enabling competition. Just to clarify how long ago that actually was... it was necessary to mention at that time that the new design scopes were to be done on CATIA V5 and no longer on CATIA V4. At the same time, the work also included research in the direction of the best cost location. Even though Bulgaria was the first choice for the Best Cost location based on the research in my work at that time, Romania came right behind it, which proved to be very successful from today's point of view. To be honest, I have to say that my work at ARRK Engineering had no influence on the choice of the best cost location.
Since I actually enjoyed networking with potential partner companies, I was hired as a sales engineer for exactly this aforementioned department after my thesis. My goals were primarily to approach the development departments at BMW's Research and Innovation Center, as well as the surrounding plants in Munich, Landshut, Dingolfing, Regensburg, and Wackersdorf, and to pick up project inquiries. In addition, I also increasingly contacted suppliers such as Dräxlmaier, Webasto, Peguform, Plastic Omnium, KroSchu or Kittel, but also customers from outside the industry such as Krauss Maffei Wegmann, Truma, Fendt, Ritz Pumpen and many more. After the financial crisis of 2008/2009, my presence in Stuttgart increased significantly, which is why I moved my headquarters there directly in 2010.
From then on, together with the Stuttgart design team, I tried to bundle, build up and further develop our fields of competence side by side with the customers located there. In January 2020, I was finally allowed to take over the Thermal Management CAD department.
Why did you become aware of ARRK Engineering as a potential interesting employer at that time?
I got to know ARRK Engineering quite unspectacularly at the HOKO (university contact fair) in Munich.
You are the department manager for thermal management at ARRK Engineering, what are the biggest challenges for you to lead this department into a successful future?
The challenges, but also the attraction, of thermal management are actually recognizing the changes in the market at an early stage and reacting to them. In the course of my professional life, during which I have been involved in thermal management, the development needs of our customers have constantly changed and mainly expanded to include additional areas of expertise, which at the same time entail more responsibility. For example, pure design packages, which had to be implemented according to customer instructions, became entire development packages according to a requirements specification, which had to be both designed and later secured.
The range is the "holy grail" of electromobility, why is thermal management in the e-car particularly important here?
Thermal management actually has a double-sided effect in terms of range impact. On the one hand, the thermal management system is a consumer that requires energy to produce a comfortable interior climate, for example, and thus minimizes the range somewhat. By employing intelligent operating strategies via waste heat utilization and the use of efficient circuit architectures, components and operating resources, as well as a demand-controlled energy management system, this consumption is reduced to a minimum. On the other hand, perfect conditioning of the high-voltage storage system ensures maximum capacity and significantly increases the range depending on the environmental impact.
Thermal management is thus an important linchpin in automotive development - what will be the success factors in the future?
I believe that for our continued success, we will have to take on more of the role of conceptual advisor than the extended workbench so often used in the past. To do this, it is important that we are aware of all the technical possibilities relevant to the thermal management system and that we also recognize all new and changed system participants and use cases and act accordingly. In order to be able to react competently to exactly these newly emerging use cases, the necessity arises in my view to invest permanently in methodical in-house developments.
Why is ARRK Engineering the perfect partner for the development of intelligent thermal management?
With its established partners Ipetronik, Nest and BHTC, ARRK Engineering has a competence in thermal management that is unparalleled in the development of thermal management systems. Each of them specializes in its own field and is regarded as an expert on the market. In addition, the internal cooperation with hardware and software development as well as with the drive and high-voltage storage sector rounds off our portfolio in a coherent manner.
So your department is working on developing an efficient and dynamic driving experience for tomorrow, what are you trying to pass on to them?
For us, it is immensely important to follow the demands on the market, identifying changes and opportunities at an early stage. We have to pick up on these opportunities and verify them using methodical approaches and, if the need is confirmed, transfer them to our portfolio of competencies. To do this, it is important for each of us in the team to understand that change is not ballast, but a new opportunity.
Keyword urban mobility - you work at our locations in Munich and Stuttgart, major cities with daily traffic chaos, what is your idea of urban mobility in 2040?
In my opinion, by 2040 there will generally be a mix of self-driven individual transport as well as autonomous means of transport that cannot be used completely individually, and mass transport. While I still see self-driven vehicles in combination with public transport in the countryside in 2040, there will only be zones for autonomously operated transport in combination with local rail transport in the centers of the large cities.
And one last question: Do you have a life motto? If so, tell us?
The only drastic mistake you can make is to do NOTHING!