The generation and exchange of ideas is at the core of CNH Industrial’s innovation process, and is consistently fostered through multiple initiatives and tools. In addition to a network of partnerships with research centers and Universities (see also page 143), CNH Industrial avails itself of tools to maintain contact with key stakeholders involved in product definition and use: customers, suppliers and employees.
The Company’s different brands involve customers in product definition through various strategies, ranging from phone interviews to a process known as Customer-Driven Product Definition (see also page 224).
It is strategically important to CNH Industrial to involve its suppliers right from the innovation process: on the one hand, this allows for the joint development of innovative systems and components, ensuring production feasibility from the start; on the other, it helps expedite design and production.
For this reason, in 2014, a one-point reference was appointed within the Purchasing function to support the Innovation team. Indeed, the involvement of the Purchasing function before the Global Product Development process (see also page 146) ensures greater success for work carried out within the platforms.
The main activities consist in:
- defining the Technology Roadmap, to identify future partnership opportunities
- preventing roadblocks during the product innovation and development process by involving suppliers in projects from the start
- providing support during steps 4 and 9 of the innovation process (see also page 138).
A Partnership Program was launched in 2014 to identify suppliers with whom to share expertise on technologies and/or key components for each Product Line (see also page 163). Furthermore, in line with previous years, several existing initiatives continued to promote the exchange of ideas and information, including the Technology Days (10 workshops held in 2014), attended by approximately 1,000 people. At these events, suppliers considered industry-leaders in innovation, technology, and quality discussed specific topics and shared information on recent technological developments.
CNH Industrial considers its employees a strategic resource, and has a high regard for their potential contribution to the improvement of products and processes. For example, many innovative ideas can be patented if properly managed, and if the submission of proposal applications is straightforward. The CNH Industrial online Innovation Portal is accessible via web and via Corporate Intranet, and employees may enter the details of their proposals through either. Another example is the collection of plant employee suggestions for improvements within the scope of the World Class Manufacturing (WCM) program. In 2014, 395 thousand suggestions were submitted across WCM plants, including those located in Emerging Markets. Suggestions are collected at individual plant level, and cover many topics such as cost reduction, workplace organization, equipment safety and efficiency, and improvements regarding quality and the work environment (see also page 167).
PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS
CNH Industrial’s participation in workgroups and research projects is a strategic choice to increase its wealth of expertise and contribute to an active exchange of ideas. Therefore, in addition to the long-standing partnerships with the Università di Torino, Politecnico di Torino and Politecnico di Milano, CNH Industrial legal entities collaborate with about 40 universities in North America (USA and Canada), Europe (Italy, Spain, Germany and Belgium), Latin America (Brazil), and Asia (China), with the aim of increasing their capacity for innovation.
|Total scientific collaborations||50|
|with research centers||9|
CNH Industrial has a long tradition of involvement in national and international working groups, and has played an active role in collaborative research projects for some years now. These projects focus mainly on eco-efficiency, specifically addressing the reduction of polluting emissions and fuel consumption, the use of alternative fuels and the efficient use of alternative propulsion.
|Total collaborative research projects||81|
|with research centers||12|
|on reducing polluting emissions||6|
|on optimizing consumption and energy efficiency||30|
|on the use of alternative fuels||3|
|on alternative propulsion systems||2|
The EcoAutobus and LIVE projects, aimed at improving the transport of goods and people, were completed in 2014.
Both were developed based on the study of three directives:
- mobility and eco-compatibility
- accessibility and comfort
- safety and connectivity.
The EcoAutobus project involved 29 partners and led to the realization of two eco-compatible urban bus prototypes. For mobility, the choice was to adopt a hybrid diesel-electric engine with series-type architecture, powered by a new diesel fuel with lower environmental impact and higher performance. The hybrid electric propulsion system adopted was altogether lighter than the hybrid systems typically used in standard hybrid vehicles. The new Drivetrain provides many benefits on urban cycles, such as reduced noise levels, fuel consumption, and CO2 emissions by up to 25% compared with standard diesel vehicles. Additionally, the Archimedes battery pack and the supercaps modules provide more energy than a traditional hybrid vehicle, and therefore enable a greater use of the electric mode.
Eco-compatibility was improved by using green tires and energy recovery systems. A new generation of solar panels was adopted as well, and a LED-based system of exterior lighting was developed to reduce consumption.
The new system allows saving 80% on energy compared to incandescent bulbs, increases the driver’s field of view by 10%, and lasts up to 30 thousand hours longer.
Accessibility was improved with a super-low chassis floor design, enabling ease of access to passengers with impaired mobility, and through the modular layout of passenger seats. The on-board quality of life for both passengers and driver was enhanced by focusing on seat comfort and ergonomics and by using high-quality plastics. The air quality of the cabin was also a key aspect, addressed by adopting a new and more efficient air conditioning system, which consumes 25% less energy and reduces the amount of polluting particles by means of electrostatic filters.
Safety conditions were improved for driver, passengers, and pedestrians alike by adopting integrated systems for driver assistance and against driver fatigue. The availability of both remote and predictive diagnostic systems increases service efficiency, while broader connectivity improves communications to passengers by providing information on services available to citizens within urban infrastructures.
Another development in parallel with EcoAutobus was the LIVE project, carried out with 24 partners aiming at optimizing the impact of light vehicles; the project led to the realization of six prototypes.
As regards mobility, the choice was to develop a hybrid diesel-electric system with parallel-type architecture and dual clutch, particularly suitable for urban distribution. For the powering of the diesel engine, two new biofuels were tested, both shown to have a lower environmental impact. The two innovative storage systems tested evidenced a reduction in consumption and the optimization of energy use on board the vehicle. Even within the scope of this project, eco-compatibility was improved by adopting low rolling resistance green tires, paired however with the central tire inflation system for managing tire pressure. Efforts to lighten the vehicle played an important role in reducing its environmental impact. First of all, the study and creation of a lighter monocoque made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic materials allowed for a reduction in weight, number of components, and development time and costs, and an increase in thermal and acoustic comfort.
Secondly, other parts were lightened, such as the front module and the hood. Accessibility was examined based on passenger needs. By exploiting the versatility of the frame, the floor was lowered in relation to the access door.
Furthermore, the lower front and rear suspensions enhance the vehicle’s handling and comfort during its dynamic phase, and allow for a lower loading platform. On-board driver and passenger comfort is ensured through more ergonomic seats equipped with a passive climate control system and high perceived-quality components.
The cabin air quality was also improved through a smart management system for air recirculation and a new air conditioning system. Vehicle and passenger safety conditions were improved by integrating specific driving aids, such as the radar and front camera system providing driver assistance and active safety (Predictive Collision Warning, AEB, ACC ). Furthermore, a hybrid braking system was designed and developed, which increases brake control and simplifies the layout.