Every day, off-highway suppliers present innovative new products and advanced technologies that help OEMs better satisfy regulatory requirements, improve operating efficiencies, extend uptime, simplify operation, and reduce the need for maintenance.
However, the flood of new technology into the off-highway market has created a tremendous challenge for OEMs, who face the daunting prospect of integrating these systems into a single, unified whole. For example, with Stage IIIB and Tier 4 emissions standards coming online, suppliers have introduced advanced technologies that each play a role in decreasing fuel consumption and increasing efficiency. Working together, these technologies have increased vehicle operating temperatures, creating a complex thermal management issue that OEMs are now addressing.
The greatest value Tier I suppliers such as Dana provide is the integration of separate components into a single solution. This integration is accomplished through a holistic approach where the development of individual components is coordinated across product lines and around the world. But Tier I suppliers should look beyond the operational efficiencies that can be achieved within the systems under their direct control.
At Dana, we see a tremendous opportunity to more closely collaborate with OEMs and ensure a higher level of end-user satisfaction by evolving from a drivetrain systems supplier into a comprehensive mobility partner.
For example, Dana provides the backbone for the entire vehicle, but many other systems such as hydrostatics, drive pumps, and tire inflation are often bolted to the drivetrain without any integration. To be a complete mobility partner, Dana is looking at solutions as simple as routing operational diagnostics from every component attached to the drivetrain to a single dashboard, or it may involve the development of a single, fully integrated electronic control system that manages all the functions that enhance mobility.
Dana is rapidly making this vision a reality. In 2010, we have increased our strategic investment in engineering by approximately 20%, with a substantial portion of that figure devoted to advanced engineering that supports overall product growth and new innovation.
Our commitment is further exemplified by the establishment of the Dana Innovation Hub, a new management team created to oversee our entire product innovation portfolio. The Innovation Hub creates new product platforms, engages in customer contact to advance opportunities in all product areas, performs advanced market evaluation, and creates cycle plans.
End-user needs will always be changing, and the development of new technologies that address these needs will never cease. Tier I suppliers will enjoy long-term growth based on their ability to understand and manage a myriad of new technologies and then deliver a fully integrated solution to OEMs.
Pietro Franzosi, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Dana Off-Highway Products Group, wrote this article for SAE Off-Highway Engineering.