CNH Industrial believes that innovation is essential to offering products that are consistently high-tech, ecofriendly, ergonomic, safe and cost-effective. The new Company has established the Innovation function dedicated to research and development (R&D), as a part of Product Development and Engineering. It operates across the board, encompassing every business and every geographical area where dedicated teams are specifically developing innovative products related to the distinctive needs of the region, including in emerging markets.
CNH Industrial’s innovation process consists of a series of clear-cut steps, from the evaluation of innovative concepts up to the final step before product development (see also pages 133-135). There are nine steps in total, grouped into three overall macro-phases: concept, innovation and advanced engineering. The application of an idea to a product requires an average of two to five years, based on the complexity of the idea itself.
The Concept phase, the first in the innovation process, is the most creative and is deliberately unstructured.
It mainly focuses on concept and elaboration, and on the assessment of one or more technologies and their potentials. At this point, collaborations are established with companies of excellence, i.e., potential partners for current or future projects, and the activities carried out relate to technology scouting, benchmarking, and customer evolution trend-analysis to identify needs and opportunities for improvement and enhancement.
This phase also encompasses the creative ideas submitted through the Open Innovation tools. Any idea suggested during the concept phase is evaluated by a group of experts; in the event of a positive outcome, it becomes an innovation project and moves on to the next phase. The initial feasibility study is carried across the four steps of the Innovation phase, at the end of which the product must meet every technical requirement to move forward, or the project is discontinued.
During the Advanced Engineering phase, which follows Innovation, the design is integrated and completed and a prototype is created to assess functionality and stability through virtual and field testing. This phase also defines the adoption of new technologies, new material purchasing needs, and the realization of components not yet identified during the previous phase. If necessary, suppliers are engaged at this time to collaborate in the joint development of components required to execute the project. Cost analysis is the last step of the innovation process: if economic requirements are unmet, the project is discontinued. If the project meets the requirements, on the other hand, as in 90% of cases, it is handed over to the product development platform, where it is processed for subsequent production.
Innovation at CNH Industrial welcomes the active contribution of all employees, customers, suppliers, public and private institutions, research centers and universities, within a tight information-sharing network.
Today, information is far more widespread and accessible than in the past, so that to remain competitive and successful, Company expertise must be paired with a willingness to open up to the outside world and find new ideas and skills wherever they may reside, irrespective of geography or sector. This approach enhances the capacity to solve problems while offering quick and innovative solutions. For this reason, the Company adopts the Open Innovation method, which aims at creating a global network among international partners from different professional fields, capable of boosting the efficiency and effectiveness of the idea generation process.
Employees are the Company’s main resource, and they are engaged in many ways to suggest innovative ideas. For example, by using the online Innovation Portal accessible via Web and through the corporate intranet, employees can submit new patent proposals. The applications and patents entered in the database are regularly evaluated by designated teams, centrally managed by the Intellectual Property Department. The goal is to stimulate the generation of new product-enhancing ideas through an incentive plan that rewards employees whose ideas result in a patent or patent application. Each step of the process can be followed via the portal. The Innovation Portal was originally created for CNH companies, but it will be gradually extended to all employees worldwide after adequate training. In 2013, it was made available to Iveco and FPT Product Development employees in Turin (Italy) and Sete Lagoas (Brazil).
The remaining Trucks and Commercial Vehicles and Powertrain centers will be trained at the beginning of 2014, enabling full portal access across all CNH Industrial sites. During 2013, employees submitted 805 new proposals.
Another important practice in the generation of ideas is the collection of employee suggestions for improvements within the scope of the World Class Manufacturing (WCM) program. In 2013, 375 thousand suggestions were submitted across WCM plants, an average of ten per person. Suggestions are collected at individual plant level, and cover many topics such as cost reduction, workplace organization, equipment safety and efficiency, and improvements to the work environment and to quality.
The Customer-Driven Product Definition (CDPD) process developed by CNH Industrial companies provides for the active engagement of customers, giving voice to their actual needs and enabling them to actively participate in the development and testing of new models. The CDPD process consists of customer visits and surveys, analysis of customer suggestions, meetings with product development teams, testing stages (during which customers try out new model prototypes and compare their main features) and, finally, the integration of customer feedback into final product specifications. This process results in the design of products that not only ensure optimal performance and efficiency, but also satisfy the requirements of those who will be using them on a daily basis.
As always, the Company also encourages suppliers to actively contribute to innovation proposals. In particular, the Supplier Performance (Su.Per) program advocates a proactive attitude to business, and allows sharing the economic benefits arising from the introduction of the innovative methods and technologies suggested (see also page 155).
In 2013 several initiatives continued in order to promote the exchange of ideas and information, as the Technology Days (12 workshops held) attended by approximately 1,200 people. Suppliers that lead the industry in innovation, technology and quality met at Technology Days events to discuss particular topics and share information on the latest technological developments (see also page 154).
|of which approved during the year||1,036||887||911|
|Patents under examination||2,242||-||-|
|of which filed during the year||672||510||474|
PARTNERSHIPS AND PROJECTS
CNH Industrial believes that working groups and research projects are a winning strategy for expanding the Company’s wealth of knowledge and skills, and for stimulating a dynamic 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 companies collaborate with about thirty 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. FPT Industrial, for example, started a new collaboration with the Fondazione Politecnico di Milano focusing on computerized simulations of the combustion process, the spray action in exhaust gas after-treatment systems, and coating validation tests. This partnership joins those already in place with the Politecnico di Torino, Politecnico di Milano and Politecnico di Zurigo, focusing on combustion process optimization, and with Imperial College London, aiming at enhancing boosting systems. Trucks and Commercial Vehicles is also currently participating in 14 collaborative projects; it boasts partners of excellence including prestigious universities such as the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (Spain), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Laboratoire d’Economie des Transports (France).
CNH Industrial has a long tradition of involvement in national and international working groups, and has played an active role in collaborative research for some years now. The main focus areas are: precision agriculture (see also page 143), fuel economy, alternative fuels (see also pages 138-142) and efficient use of alternative drives (see also page 142).
CNH Industrial is involved in two projects under the Seventh Framework Program of the European Commission, focusing on precision agriculture as a means towards more sustainable production. The first is called Robot Fleets for Highly Effective Agriculture and Forestry Management (RHEA), developed by a consortium of 19 partners. It aims at a 75% reduction in the use of chemicals, with subsequent improvements in crop quality and human health and safety, as well as at a reduction in production costs.
The second project is called Clever Robots for Crops (CROPS), with 14 partners involved, and concerns the development of a highly configurable and modular platform capable of spraying substances onto foliage only, and of harvesting fruit selectively. CROPS also aims at developing techniques for the reliable detection and classification of obstacles and other objects, enabling autonomous navigation and effective platform operations in plantations and forests.
The VECTOR 2015 project coordinated by Iveco and co-financed by the Ministry of Economic Development was concluded in 2013. The project, aimed at developing a mid-size eco-compatible vehicle for optimized and multi-role urban transport, was the result of a collaboration among twenty partners including Centro Ricerche Fiat, small and medium Italian enterprises, and the universities of Catania and Parma. The VECTOR project involved the creation of a network of innovative companies linked by the common goal of achieving industrial excellence and competitive growth.
Two eco-sustainable and cost-effective prototypes were created using alternative drives and other technological solutions. Both demo vehicles were hybrid: one equipped with a diesel-electric system, the other with a diesel-hydraulic propulsion system. The use of hybrid propulsion led to a significant reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, especially by exploiting the energy recovery potential when braking. The demo vehicles, with an architecture optimized for urban transport, are fitted with new electric parking brakes and a new steering wheel with a fixed central hub. They also have an innovative CO2 cooling system. To improve vehicle energy balance for refrigerated transport, pioneering photovoltaic solar panels were installed in the bodywork. Other innovative features relate to comfort: soundproof cabs and external noise reduction using recycled materials; air filtering systems using electrostatic filters; and new seats with anti-stain fabrics.
Safety features were not overlooked: both prototypes were equipped with preventive safety systems, including the Emergency Braking system extended to urban settings, for the prevention of frontal collisions, and a Vulnerable Road Users single-camera system, for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists during vehicle restart.
Another area of interest relates to integrated projects focusing on the transport of goods in urban areas, especially in the so-called last mile, where advanced logistics and the right vehicle can significantly contribute to reducing CO2 emissions. In this regard, a key project is PIE VERDE, involving 27 companies, including large, medium, small, and micro-enterprises, two universities and a research center. The thirty partners involved are testing new engines with low environmental impact for use in urban settings.
The project entails the development of modular architectures capable of adapting to different use settings, advanced electric and hybrid drive systems, and an innovative storage and charging system. The project will also evaluate the use of innovative materials and explore new strategies for on-board loss reduction and energy recovery.
Research activities concerning long-distance transport include the COmplete Vehicle Energy-saving Technologies for Heavy-Trucks (CONVENIENT) project, involving 21 European partners.
The project aims at reducing vehicle fuel consumption by 30% using innovative architectures and solutions with enhanced component integration for on-board energy saving and recovery. Solutions include hybrid drives, electrified auxiliary systems, dual level cooling systems, energy collection and storage devices, solar photovoltaic roofs for trucks and trailers, and advanced active and passive aerodynamic devices for trucks and trailers.
The global approach to energy saving also entails the active engagement of drivers, while supporting them with adequate structures and systems.
In 2013, aiming at optimizing transport capacity, road tests continued on 18-meter long tractor and semitrailer systems in the scope of the DICIOTTO project, under the ANFIA association and in collaboration with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. Between January and June 2013, these vehicles covered 1.04 million kilometers, bringing total road testing to over 6.8 million kilometers, surpassing the target set in the Sustainability Plan.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN NUMBERS
In 2013, CNH Industrial’s expenditure on research and development reached a total of €934 million, or 3.8% of the Company’s net revenues from industrial operations.
R&D activities involved 6,280 employees (+7.4% compared to 2012) at 48 centers worldwide, five of them located in the LATAM Region employing 787 people (+14% compared to 2012), and one that opened in China in 2013.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT HIGHLIGHTS
|Number of research centers||48||49||51|
|Number of R&D employees||6,280||5,845||5,000|
|Total R&D expenditure1||934||895||742|
|of which on Agricultural and Construction Equipment||538||520||384|
|of which on Trucks and Commercial Vehicles||298||289||254|
|of which on Powertrain||98||86||104|
(1) Inclusive of capitalized R&D costs and R&D costs charged directly to the income statement.
NEW R&D CENTER IN CHINA
In 2013, a Product Development Center was launched next to the plant in Harbin, province of Heilongjiang (northeastern China). The Center’s aim is to turn the plant into the largest regional hub for agricultural equipment, with a particular focus on the specific requirements of the Chinese market. The Center, which is an integral part of the Company’s global R&D network, implements the Global Product Development process (see also page 133) and an integrated product data management system, which allows sharing resources and know-how with all other R&D centers.
The development of a corn harvester began in 2013 to meet the demand of Chinese farmers.