Leoni at the IAA 2017: "We understand the overall system of a vehicle"

Management Board member Martin Stüttem talks about the added value of a full-service system approach for customers

Nuremberg – Leoni, the leading manufacturer of cables and cable systems for the automotive industry and other sectors, is increasingly acting as a service provider to its customers. Marking the start of the IAA 2017, Martin Stüttern, member of the Management Board of Leoni AG with responsibility for the Wiring Systems Division, explained which services in particular automotive producers can expect.

Question: Which services is Leoni offering in the areas of services and solutions?

Answer: For our customers in the automotive and commercial vehicle sectors it is crucial that we as a cable and wiring systems manufacturer understand the overall system within the vehicle. This is what enables us to deal with each other strategically and to offer innovative solutions. As systems supplier we sell not only products, we also provide services in engineering, architectural design, simulation, software. In addition, Leoni has know-how in overall vehicle measurement and it uses proprietary tools for the sizing of cable cross-sections, for example. A good service and systems approach for us also includes the global network for development and manufacturing, intelligent production processes and sophisticated supply chain management with end-to-end analysis.  

Question: Where is all this going?

Answer: We are pursuing a cross-division approach as a full-service provider and development partner. Leoni is a specialist in energy and data management serving various industries. Here at the IAA we are showcasing our range of services for the automotive industry, which goes far beyond the pure product, i.e. automotive cables, complete cable harnesses or the electromechanical component. The IAA illustrates this point: We are showing solutions, application examples, technologies and tools. Our aim as wiring systems producer is to be involved by the OEM in the development of a new vehicle as early as possible. This brings benefits on both sides.

Question: What specific benefit does this provide to customers?

Answer: If the concept of the vehicle goes hand in hand with that of the wiring system then we are able to optimise the overall system. This applies to the number, cross-sections and leading of wires and to the entire wiring systems architecture.  Electric and hybrid vehicles, in particular, as well as driverless cars bring particular challenges. High-voltage cables must not impact sensitive data cables electromagnetically. The cable harnesses need to be processed accordingly and laid cleverly, something which is better done if we are able to influence the placing of individual components at an early design stage. We see the potential to save installation space, weight and costs. Automated production, too, is able to benefit from this.

Question: Will the production of wiring systems in the future be handled by robots?

Answer: We are already assembling cables such as battery and aerial cables fully automatically. But more complex process steps in the production of the wiring system are for the most part still performed manually. Our aim is not to replace people with robots on a large scale. But trends such as miniaturisation and Industry 4.0 do require a higher degree of automation. Autonomous driving, too, is powering this trend. The wring system in such vehicles could, at least in part, be classified as a safety-relevant component because it supplies relevant functions and systems with energy and data. It is only through fully automated production that we are able to meet the increased requirements of quality, process monitoring and documentation. For example, only a machine can ensure that cables are always inserted into casings with equal force. Electromobility also facilitates automation. At present, we still manufacture the sophisticated high-voltage cable harnesses in relatively small unit sizes. But given the larger volumes that we see on the horizon it no longer makes sense to run our production with a high manual component.

Question: Keyword electromobility: What can Leoni offer here?

Answer: Leoni has been equipping vehicles with alternative drives for over 15 years and currently supplies 13 OEMs in series with high-voltage products. The customer receives cable harnesses for all voltage levels from us from a single source, together with the matching distribution systems. At the IAA we will present a new generation of high-voltage splitters with a modular structure, which will set a new standard in terms of size and weight. In addition to wiring within the car Leoni also offers charging cables, both as standard vehicle equipment and for the fixed installation at charging stations.

Question: In what areas are you seeking to expand the portfolio?

Answer: We will aim for more system partnerships with our customers. Our experience has been very positive with some carmakers, with others we still have a need to catch up. To expand our offerings we will aim to widen our competence in the areas of software, data management and electronics.