Let’s save industry by pooling our engineering


Tribune of Franck Vigot, President SEGULA Automotive

The automotive market evidently incorporates a high number of factors that are key to industry: a complex market, quality requirements, technological breakthroughs, economic, regulatory and environmental constraints… In short, this industry, which is both mature and at the forefront of innovation, brings together all the themes, and particularly all the skills, methods and technologies to significantly enhance other industrial domains… especially during the crisis, as long as we are able to create the right organisational and human conditions for this synergy.

Automotive: a comprehensive industry and a source of inspiration

Sectors that incorporate such a variety of professions and skills are rare: from designers to robot programmers, not forgetting designers of 3D parts and flow modelling, prototype testers, production line architects, subcontracting experts, etc. What’s more, these professionals must work together, in parallel, to develop a car in a few dozen weeks, which is then produced at a rate of one unit a minute!

In order to achieve this, manufacturers, engineering companies and subcontractors have over time come up with tools and methods for co-construction, meaning for example that technical and industrial feasibility can be guaranteed far in advance or that functional systems and subsystems can be designed straight away (‘first time right’ in our jargon).

Finally, the sector’s competitiveness means the whole industry is working to tight costs and reduced margins, while complying with countless standards and regulatory constraints, particularly when it comes to safety and the environment. Constraints that are now appearing or increasing in other industrial domains.

Seeing the crisis as an opportunity for major change

The current crisis of course intensifies the impact of these constraints. Public authorities are seeing it as an opportunity to increase some regulations. The economy is looking more uncertain than ever. However, manufacturers can choose to see opportunity more than risk, and benefit from the opening up of borders between industrial sectors which had previously been foreign to each other. This is what we have done by using our automotive expertise to meet the acute needs of Intersurgical, a manufacturer of medical equipment, to design and produce 10 respiratory filter production lines in 6 weeks instead of… 6 months[1]! The keys to success? A product-process co-construction from the design stage, the advancement of subprojects in parallel, and our skills and tools in rheology.

Building bridges between sectors and professions

Beyond this one-off example directly linked to the Covid-19 crisis, we strongly believe that the automotive sector can, or even should, put its practices to use in other sectors. This can involve working methods, such as agility, co-construction, upstream integration of industrial lines; expertise, such as flexibility of production lines, which must now handle different products without reconfiguration, and authorising delicate operations for the maintenance; experience, such as managing disruptions in the supply chain, which we overcome in particular thanks to an international network of suppliers; and of course scientific and technological skills directly linked to the automotive sector.

Furthermore, the automotive sector has been dealing with some cross-sector challenges such as integration of multiple standards that are sometimes difficult to make coexist, or the energy/ecological transition, for more than a decade. We therefore have solid experience and turnkey solutions that can be adapted for other industries.

Finally, let’s not forget that this multidisciplinary cross-sector approach that we would like to see can only come to light if we build bridges between professions, sectors and disciplines: a harmonious exchange between participants is as important to us as the expertise.

We are thus calling on manufacturers to join us in this interdisciplinary approach, all the more so at present, so that we can progress together towards a more open, more innovative and ultimately more efficient industry. We can really help each other out!

Some professions and skills from the automotive industry, and their external applications:

[1] https://www.segulatechnologies.com/fr/actualites/segula-et-intersurgical-sassocient-pour-fournir-des-filtres-respiratoires-au-ministere-de-la-sante/

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