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Corporate Sustainability Officer
Products by the Schaeffler Group – high quality components, modules, and system solutions for the future of the automobile and of industry – provide an answer to major worldwide megatrends like climate change, globalization, urbanization, and digitalization. They help our customers to master the challenges associated with these trends and conduct business successfully. We want it to stay that way. That is why this is our vision: “As a leader in technology, we combine a passion for innovation with the highest standards of quality to shape the mobility for tomorrow – for a world that will be cleaner, safer, and smarter.”
For the Schaeffler Group, remaining future-proof above all means maintaining our leading technological position through efficient hybrid and electric drives, efficient engine and transmission solutions for combustion engines, energy-saving bearing technology in industrial applications, and consistent digitalization of products and services.
The strategic pillars of the “Mobility for tomorrow” include our aim to be the preferred technology partner for our customers and to strive for the highest possible quality, efficiency, and delivery performance. All the while, we believe that the issues of E-mobility, Industry 4.0, and digitalization offer central opportunities for the future.
The Schaeffler Group concentrates on four focus areas in our research and development (R&D) according to our strategy “Mobility for tomorrow”. These are:
The Schaeffler Group strives to inspire customers worldwide through innovative system solutions from a single source and through its deep understanding of components. The company has assembled all the key skills to do so, with the technological function remaining the focal point of our groupwide organization. The divisions involved include Corporate R&D Management, Corporate Innovation, R&D Processes, Methods and Tools, R&D Skills & Services, Intellectual Property & Rights, Surface Technology, Information Technology, and the Coordination Office Digitalization.
The overarching goals of our R&D work include further expanding our systems know-how. Focal points include vibration insulation, friction reduction, hybridization of drives, or further developing electric motors, among other areas. In the concept vehicle “Schaeffler High Performance 48 Volt”, we presented a package of driving pleasure and CO2 savings using an Audi TT. The powerful 48 Volt mild hybridization includes a drive architecture with an electric motor located on the rear axle as an “electric axle”. The electric axle acts as a supplement to the combustion engine, which drives the front axle. It generates a starting torque of up to 2,000 Nm. Besides purely electric driving up to 35 km/h, active “sailing” is also possible at speeds over 70 km/h.
The Schaeffler Group takes a comprehensive and integrated management approach, continuously assessing all life cycle phases of its products. It covers all aspects from product design, validation, production, and usage to product disposal and recycling. We are investigating potential areas of improvement everywhere, for instance in relation to recyclable materials and low-emission production.
The Schaeffler Group pursues a consistent approach based on partnership to promote innovation processes. We involve our suppliers in collecting knowledge and developing forward-thinking solutions around the world.
The Internet of Things will network vehicles, machines, and people in the future to create a close-knit web. The mechanical and digital worlds are growing together, facilitating new business models and permanently increasing value creation.
The Schaeffler Group is well prepared for the new digital world that is coming into being. It is a global pioneer of “Industry 4.0”. It is redesigning its value creation processes and using the experience it gleans from this for innovative customer solutions.
Schaeffler developed the “Digital Agenda” to ensure the utilization of opportunities offered by digitalization. This comprehensive approach includes four core components: Products & Services, Machines & Processes, Analyses & Simulations, and User Experience & Customer Value. It applies both to our own processes and to products and solutions for Schaeffler customers.
Internally, we are using available data even more intensively to better network production locations, machines, and buildings with one another. The “Machine Tool 4.0” was commissioned in Höchstadt at the end of 2015, among other measures.
The Schaeffler Group is aware that implementing its “Digital Agenda” will require intensive collaboration between partners from business and science. That is why it has already begun working with them to establish a digital ecosystem including not only business partners, but also universities, start-ups, and research facilities.
We entered into a strategic partnership with IBM in October of 2016 to increase our data-based value creation. The first step was to construct a digital platform – the Schaeffler Cloud – where we can implement the issues of the “Digital Agenda”.
The Schaeffler Group is leading in many areas, such as in the development of so-called predictive maintenance solutions. These are used to monitor the condition of bearings and provide predictive maintenance through sensitive, digitally networked surfaces. A good example of this is the Schaeffler Condition Monitoring System (CMS) for passenger trains. Based on the sensor data from the bearing systems that have sensors integrated into the surface, the CMS calculates the expected remaining service period for the equipment, prepares error diagnostics as needed, and establishes the required maintenance intervals. Data is processed centrally in the Schaeffler Cloud.
The benchmark for quality is the “zero defect principle” applicable at all Schaeffler Group locations, which stands for process stabilization and continuous improvement. Besides constant quality improvement, the company also believes it is obligated to make its products safer over time and permanently continue optimizing the corporate processes it uses to do so.
All production locations of the Schaeffler Group hold valid certificates based on globally accepted quality standards such as ISO 9001:2008 or ISO TS 16949:2009. Certifications in accordance with ISO 9001:2015 and IATF 16949 are prepared for 2017 and already in implementation.
The Schaeffler Group ows its reputation as a provider of safe product solutions and services not only to its strict functional and safety characteristics for, but also to a consistent build-up of expertise among its employees. The company has established product safety representatives (PSRs) on the regional level and provided them with comprehensive training. In April 2016, the Schaeffler Academy also launched an e-learning program. Over 1,200 employees have received specialized training since that time through a structured blended learning concept. In addition, each employee is sensitized to the issue of product safety through easily accessible information and qualified in accordance with the product safety instructions in the Schaeffler management handbook.
Improvements in product safety also require efforts across the industry. To discuss solutions on an international basis with safety experts, attorneys, and governmental officials as well as design and quality specialists, the Schaeffler Group staged its second Product Safety Day in August of 2016. Numerous guests and speakers from North and South America, Europe, India, and China accepted an invitation to the conference as part of the “Product Safety Network” co-founded by Schaeffler to go to Shanghai, where they intensively discussed risk assessments and criteria along with other matters.
Long-term customer relationships are a central contributing factor to the success of the Schaeffler Group. To be able to fulfill or even exceed the expectations of our customers, we place a high value on open dialog and solution-oriented interactions.
Instruments we can use to bring our customers’ quality demands into the company, including the “Fit for Quality” program and our “Customer House Fairs”, are a significant part of our process landscape. Our employee qualification program in the Sales Campus Industry also serves this purpose, as the sales dialog is another key interface where quality can be improved.
Numerous awards from our customers confirm this approach. For instance, we received the Ford “World Excellence Award” in the category of “Smart Pillar” in 2016 – one of four brand pillars of the company. Besides environmentally-friendly solutions in development and manufacturing, this award expressly honored our sales department.
In the divisions Industrial and Automotive OE (original equipment), the Schaeffler Group operates customer-based global key account management (GKAM) as a supplement to our regional and divisional sales. We use it to ensure that all our customer relations worldwide are based on the same principles. We have optimized the integration of expertise from the various customer-specific industrial and automotive application areas for each key account. Be it central headquarters, regional sales department or the global and local key account manager, they focus closely on the principle of showing “one face to the customer”.
Complying with national and international rules and standards of a political, technical, and social nature is critical for Schaeffler Group sales. Schaeffler and its customers must disclose certain product information to regulators. These requirements are mainly based on the Tread Act (which makes it mandatory to report on deviations relevant to product safety), the German Product Safety Act, Directive 176 of the Chinese recall legislation, and other regulations.
Schaeffler regularly conducts systematic surveys on customer satisfaction across divisions. The survey focuses on our portfolio of products and services, our price/performance ratio, technical and commercial processes, customer relations, the dependability of deliveries, and logistics. Our “Customer Satisfaction Index” and other means help us measure the outcomes. It was recorded for the automotive aftermarket segment in 2016. The results showed a slight improvement from the previous year. We understand the results as a general incentive to further expand and systematize our customer dialogs in the industrial and automotive sectors.
Counterfeited products are a frequent cause of personal injury and material damage to vehicles and industrial plants. According to a study published by the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce), the annual economic and social costs resulting from this amount to USD 1.7 billion worldwide.
We increasingly work with customs authorities to fight product piracy. They typically review incoming shipments to ensure they fulfill legal requirements. Besides governmental obligations like fighting smuggling or implementing species protection laws, these reviews also focus on copyright infringements. In China both imported and exported goods are inspected. This cooperation is important to effectively prevent counterfeit goods from reaching the international market in the most effective way possible.
One measure we have taken for prevention involves equipping product labels with intelligent safety labeling called “STOP” (Safety Technology for Original Products at Schaeffler): It includes a so-called data matrix code which makes each product unique; the codes are available at www.tecidentify.com and from other sources.
Bio-Hybrid: Four wheels, pedelec drive system, weather protection, and it can be taken on bike paths without a driver’s license – it’s the Schaeffler Group’s answer to the demands of urban micro-mobility.
„CDQ Good Practice Award“: Honoration of excellent data management - Improvements in data processing, new data models, and KPIs contributed to reducing processing times by 60 % and increasing the efficiency of business processes.
Counterfeit products confiscated: Officials of the Columbian agencies in Barranquilla confiscated 26,811 products with a purchase value of almost EUR 980,000 in February of 2016, sending them to be safely scrapped. A global brand protection approach like the one pursued by the Schaeffler Group is indispensable.