Marcus Youden, Quick Release product director
Two years on from the UK Government’s Road to Zero, CV operators and manufacturers have had time to digest implications and consider responses. The timeline particularly focused manufacturers’ minds as CVs typically enjoy longer model lifecycles than passenger cars; 14 years between generations for Ford’s Transit, 12 years for Mercedes-Benz’s Sprinter.
Accordingly, those on sale in 2030 and 2035 will either already currently be in development, or when development starts, will require Road to Zero compliance incorporated to avoid costly early withdrawal. Having partnered with established volume CV manufacturers and EV-centric CV start-ups, Quick Release’s Marcus Youden outlines the top three challenges CV manufacturers on the Road to Zero must overcome to thrive in a post-2035 marketplace.
Internal Quick Release (QR) benchmarking over an 18-year period suggests around 80% of complex engineering projects are late or overbudget. With net zero targets approaching, there simply isn’t time for delays if new models are to be brought to market on time.
“Five years ago, there was still scope for technological solutions such as virtual prototyping to speed up development programmes,” Youden starts. “Due to time constraints, we are now seeing a revisiting of fundamentals around data visibility, and how that is used to drive decision making within a programme. Simply put, ‘this is how to deliver the right data, to the right people, at the right time to drive impactful, time critical decisions’.”
“An engineering team is a billion-dollar asset; release them to engineer and deliver the competitive advantage to thrive,” says Youden, who is particularly enthused by the potential gains from optimising how the workforce collaborates.
He says, “It may seem counterintuitive to advocate increasing headcount when talking about ‘efficiency’, but significant gains can be made if your specialists can focus purely on their key area of expertise. It’s akin to a doctor also acting as their own receptionist and accountant; they can only do one of those things well. The others don’t require the doctor’s specific skills and best left to other specialists. Too many organisations take highly skilled and specialised teams and are content for them to only spend around one third of their time performing those high-skill tasks and the rest of their time is taken up by work that could be done more broadly.
There are two advantages of encouraging greater specialisation within engineering teams: engineers are empowered to focus on their strengths, such as on high-value engineering tasks; and the improved data quality resulting from specialist focus from analysts’ time will yield whole programme benefits. These include greater data visibility and insight, which can help reduce the risk of inefficient procurement or costly last-minute tooling changes.
In QR’s recent past, work at a global OEM yielded 50% fewer quality check failures and a 70% reduction in engineers’ time spent on admin tasks.
90% of businesses are thinking about digital transformation, but only 10% are confident with their strategy. Digital transformation should be a means to an end and is best executed delivering live projects.
Any approach needs to consider both the systems used, and the people using them.
On the systems side, it is vital to encourage ‘data flow’ to ensure all relevant information can be captures and shared effectively. The first step is to ensure data is aligned, integrated, communicated to and easily interpreted by the relevant specialist. Then it becomes a matter of collating multiple sources, processing and then presenting information in a way that is comprehensible and can be used to deliver improvements.
People are even more crucial. The team needs to be confident there is a ‘single source of truth’ for all data, with trust in reporting and analytics, plus they need to involved as and when appropriate when collating, analysing and sharing data.
Demonstrating the pace enabled by considered planning and execution, in summer 2020, QR developed and deployed an integrated platform to track stock and scrappage across five manufacturing sites in four weeks for the VCUK consortium.