Change is coming fast – and to drive the shift, we need to be able to innovate and scale up quickly. By combining our core strengths with new ways of working, we’re rapidly developing the ideas and technologies that will shape tomorrow’s transport system.
Transport is experiencing one of the biggest shifts in its history. Our business landscape is more disruptive than ever, with new technologies and business models emerging all the time. At Scania we’re responding by developing the right balance between today’s and tomorrow’s business.
It means that we continue investing significantly in the sustainable transport solutions that are viable today, i.e. efficient drivetrains with a combustion engine powered by renewable fuels. The project team behind the Common Base Engine 1 – the joint engine platform within the TRATON GROUP – is creating a drive system for heavy duty commercial vehicles that will set new standards in terms of efficiency and that can further reduce carbon emissions when used with renewable fuels. This next generation, ultra-efficient, low-emission engines will remain our core for many years to come and are a crucial part in achieving the science-based targets we have committed to.
At the same time, we’re making longer-term decisions to develop the autonomous, connected and electrified transport technologies of tomorrow.
Fail fast, learn fast
The rapid pace of change requires us to behave less like a traditional manufacturer and more like a start up. We develop and test many ideas in real operation, fail fast, learn fast and bring viable ideas to market quickly. We can test these on a small scale with customers, find out what works best, and then move them on to our core business to scale up for production.
Experimental pilot projects are at the core of this approach. Some of our technology pilots are happening within Scania itself, such as autonomous operations within our own premises. Other pilots are taking place in collaboration with customers and other partners.
As well as piloting new technological solutions, we’re also trialling new ways
of working that harness new technologies and enable us to innovate more quickly. Through our experimental technology labs such as Scania Smart Engineering Lab and Scania Smart Factory Lab, we’re exploring how emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality could enhance our production, engineering and collaboration processes.
Investments are an important part of this approach. Through our corporate venture capital fund Scania Growth Capital, we invest in companies that support the shift towards a sustainable transport system, and in ventures to explore disrupting technologies and business models in the automotive and transport industries.
For innovation to thrive, it’s important that we foster an agile mindset and an environment that allows fresh ideas to take root and flourish. Initiatives such as our Future Room roundtable discussions (read more at www.scania.com/futureroom) and our annual Scania Hack are examples of how we’re encouraging creative thinking and nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit at Scania. Competence building also has a vital role to play, and we’re committed to developing the technology and entrepreneurship skills our people will increasingly need in the future through programmes such as the Scania Innovation Factory,.
Innovation at Scania is not just about embracing the new – it’s also about building on our core strengths. For example, our modular platform will bring us the same advantages in designing autonomous vehicles as it does for conventional trucks and buses, allowing us to rapidly introduce vehicles customised to suit different requirements based on relatively few components and parts. This will be supported by our investment in connectivity and data sharing, which will continue to give us more valuable insights into our customers’ needs and how they use our products and services.
Inside Scania’s smart factory Lab
What benefits could robots bring to our factory processes? And could virtual reality improve the way we develop vehicles? These are some of the questions being answered in Scania’s Smart Factory Lab – an experimental test environment set up to explore, assess and pilot new technologies before we adopt them in our production processes.
New digital and Internet-of-Things technologies are rapidly advancing, and Scania needs to be in the forefront of developments to remain competitive.
It would be too risky to introduce these new technologies to our factory processes untested. This is where our Scania Smart Factory Lab comes into play.
“As we can’t be certain that the new technologies will actually work, we can’t directly implement them in production,” explains Vipasha Laijawala, one of the Smart Factory Lab’s young engineers. “So the idea of the lab is to test new technologies in the vicinity of the factory. We adapt solutions, evaluate them, and if we think that they are good enough, we conduct pilots. If the proof of concept is promising, we can design a large-scale solution and implement it in production.”
The lab engages a multinational team of 15 engineers, thesis workers and trainees to carry out trials. “Our mission is to adopt new technology for production as it becomes available from universities and suppliers,” says Lars Hanson, Coordinator of the Smart Factory Lab.
“These technologies need to be adaptedmto Scania’s needs and the Scania Production System. Our aim is to improve productivity, quality and employee health."
"Here at the Smart Factory Lab, there are no limits on the ideas we can work with. We have a lot of creative freedom."
Exploring possibilities, spreading knowledge
The engineers have in most cases been recruited immediately upon graduation from Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), with which Scania has a long-standing collaboration. In addition to exploring the merits and suitability
of technologies, they help explain the new opportunities and enlighten others – both within Scania and externally.
“What we are doing is important since we are spreading all this knowledge to the rest of Scania,” says Project Engineer Juan Luis Jiménez Sánchez. “Others are being made aware that the technology exists and can be used to really improve Scania’s production systems.”
The entire team of lab engineers is enthusiastically engaged in applying the latest technologies to improve Scania’s production. Jim Tolman, who comes from an educational background in creative technology and human-computer interaction, is exploring new opportunities to benefit from virtual and augmented reality. With this technology, a training instructor could coach operators in new assembly methods without travelling to Scania’s production sites in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
"VR allows you to do things you can’t in real life – like pick up a truck, turn it around and see what it looks like from different angles.”
“One of the great things about VR is the sense of depth,” says Tolman. “You can interact with 3D representations of parts and components in a natural way that’s impossible with a 2D screen. VR also allows you to do things you can’t in real life – like pick up a truck, turn it around and see what it looks like from different angles.”
Another advantage of VR is that test assemblies can be completed very early on. “As soon as the CAD model is finished, you can put it into the tool and work with it,” continues Tolman. “You don’t have to wait until the components are physically available.”
"We have a lot of creative freedom"
Meanwhile, Xiaomeng Zhu is applying advanced analytics and machine learning to determine whether robots can be gainfully employed for component picking in a more rational order. And Vipasha Laijawala is looking into how Internet-of-Things devices might improve monitoring wear in production machinery.