From conflict comes innovation

From conflict comes innovation

Magnus MackAldener recently received a major prize for Scania’s outstanding research into exhaust gas treatment. The achievement might not have been possible without the work of MackAldener’s colleague Lars Dahlén. The dynamic between their respective departments led to the market’s first and smallest exhaust aftertreatment system offering Euro 6 compliance.

The close cooperation between two key departments in Scania’s Research and Development department is one of the key reasons Magnus MackAldener recently received the Professor Ferdinand Porsche Prize for outstanding research into vehicle engineering. He received the prize for producing the market’s first and smallest (in the up-to-490-hp segment) exhaust aftertreatment system offering Euro 6 compliance.

“It was, of course, a team effort,” says MackAldener. “Many long hours and the work of engineers lie behind the achievement. And the work wasn’t free from friction.”

Discussions and compromises

He describes how two powerful organisations, each representing different interests, held on-going discussions and were forced to compromise over requirements. In this case these organisations were MackAldener’s own department, which works in engine development, and Lars Dahlén’s department, which deals with chassis development.

“For my unit the work involved getting the best possible performance from the exhaust aftertreatment system, while Lars’ unit was responsible for integrating the system into the vehicle as effectively as possible,” says MackAldener. “In this respect the size of the silencer played a major role.”

In good company

Lars Dahlén thinks it’s amazing to be named in the same context as, for example, airbags and the Audi Quattro’s four-wheel-drive system, two ground-breaking innovations that previously won the same award.

“Innovation comes about largely through conflicting requirements,” Dahlén says. “It’s conflict that produces new solutions.”

Handling deviations

At Scania, development frequently stems from handling deviations and there were many of these in this project.

“The prize is a reminder that there are plenty of good things going on, despite conflicts now and then,” Dahlén says. “It’s a good experience to take with us into the next project – that it pays off to struggle through.”

Knowledge sharing

Both MackAldener and Dahlén stress that sharing knowledge between departments and learning from each other is a key factor for success. There was no organised system for sharing knowledge. Rather it happened as a result of an open and generous culture, through more experienced staff teaching younger colleagues.

Dahlén says: “Information flowed freely throughout the project so that everyone was up to speed. We also enjoyed close and tight cooperation.”

MackAldener says: “Of the 90 people who were ultimately involved in the project, just a handful was there from the beginning. This shows that there was effective knowledge sharing.”

Previous award winners, a few examples

1981: Jürgen Paul & Heinz Leiber, Mercedes-Benz & Bosch, ABS

1983: Jörg Bensinger, Audi, Quattro (four-wheel-drive system)

1999: Anton van Zanten & Armin Müller, Bosch  & DaimlerChrysler, ESP

2007: Hans-Michael Güther, SGL Brakes, Carbon ceramic brake discs

2011: Wolfgang Huhn & Kamislav Fadel, Audi & Automotive Lighting, LED light technology