Author: Gary F. Newton Jr.

The automotive engineering landscape has certainly evolved over the last five years for both the OEM and tier suppliers. For OEMs, new ownership models, rapidly advancing technical innovations, and growing competition across the mobility space have forced the industry to adapt. 

The challenge for suppliers has become access to prototypes, keeping up with the speed of development and meeting/exceeding mandated targets that sometimes seem to have no foundation.  In fact, change seems to be the only constant in today’s culture.  Of all the things an engineer faces at either an OEM or tier supplier, the ability to keep up with the breakneck pace of development is the most important.  This new pace of development is critical for gaining market share and product positioning to speed the time to market.  Having the newest and coolest product to the market first is the name of the game.

In order to keep up with the pace of development, engineers must look with an open mind to seek technology that provides solutions to help both OEMs and tier level suppliers effectively share and communicate engineering data in a meaningful way; creating an environment where we, as engineers, can understand a common language and experience the impacts of our choices and decisions, all while removing time and redundancy from this communication process. 

These two factors can have an immediate positive impact on those companies that choose to embrace it.  Proper data is critical to hit targets and milestones; even more critical is the need to communicate it to those that might not have the engineering or technical backgrounds.  Engineers by nature like to deal in “squiggly” lines on a page.  But ask yourself, do the other stakeholders in your process have the same affinity for those lines?  What about your trusted suppliers?  Do those lines convey the impact their component/systems performance has on the vehicle?  How can we bring all these people to the same table? 

We don’t need technology that makes the lines brighter or clearer or bolder.  We are not looking for the next step in line presentation.  We need to seek tools and technology that communicate the context and feel behind those lines.  That is the enabler to drive the development process forward, faster.  This will force a paradigm shift for many traditional engineers who still focus on those “squiggly” lines.  This will also force new approaches in how we collect, create and gather data.  At the end of the day that data needs to be connected to people.  It must convey meaning and purpose to others who have influence in our process, while at the same time being applied quickly and effectively.

As engineers we MUST have empathy for the greater development team. 
Let us think about,

  • The marketing person – he/she needs to understand the user experience and brand DNA that was envisioned to help sell to the market. 
  • The manufacturing/production team – they will need to understand the importance of any one change on the lifetime of the product – even if it means a one-time manufacturing discomfort. 
  • The finance team – How can we make them understand why the requested spend and specific component selection are so important to this specific platform?
  • The sourcing team – How can we share why we selected A over B and the importance of that choice to the vehicle?

Once you have thought about the other stake holders in the process, ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I afford to spend a whole week of morning meetings explaining the difference between the blue line vs. the red line in a board room to the various teams, other suppliers and/or managers? 
  • Is it an effective use of my time to educate and train others in the ways of NVH data that they may only be exposed to as part of this project? 
  • How can we connect the data to a personal perception in way that would require considerably less time and effort?

Your answers will likely lead you to seek a better way.  And there is a better way. An NVH simulator from HBK can bring to life those “squiggly” lines we spend so much time and effort explaining and debating.  It can give real context to what the data means in a way anyone can clearly understand – it’s visceral.  We are multi-modal beings; as such, we gain a better understanding through our senses like hearing and feeling than we ever could by comparing 2-D graphs on a page. 

By using an HBK NVH simulator you would:

1) Reduce stress in communication, internally and externally. 

2) Bring more people to the table and help them understand their connection to the program’s success.

3) Demonstrate quickly the direct impact of an individual’s contribution to the final vehicle.

4) Help to remove engineering anxiety and drive to a collaborative converging success.

5) Clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of one design versus another.

Think about your daily challenges and how much time is spent on those “squiggly” lines. By using a simulator to address NVH issues, I promise that you can get back that week of meetings you had planned to explain the same things multiple times to different groups. Simulators are no longer the future; they are here, and have gone from specialized highly technical tools that only a few could afford, and fewer could operate, to an affordable mainstream solution that has a powerful cost benefit analysis position and VERY fast return on investment. 

If you would like to explore what a simulator could mean to your organization, let’s talk soon. I assure you that the 15- to 30-minute time investment will have value for you.  I look forward to our discussion.

Gary F. Newton Jr.
Director of Automotive – Americas 
VI-Grade
734-604-7559
garyf.newtonjr@hbkworld.com