If you were to ask my five year old son what his father does, he would probably answer: “My Dad’s making the air clean”. And, in fact, I am currently in the fantastic position to be able to work in an innovative and sustainable area at MANN+HUMMEL which concerns the quality of our ambient air and specifically the reduction of fine dust. Why am I so enthusiastic? Well, for one thing we have a lot of freedom and secondly we are working together on the future of the company. But first things first.
I myself came into the team in August 2017 and have led the strategic initiative since the middle of 2018. Last August we started to conduct field tests with test vehicles, the so‑called fine dust eater vehicle. In fact, they do not “eat” the fine dust in the literal sense of the word, but filter it out of the air. For example, the filter installed on the roof of the vehicles retains fine dust from ambient air. A brake dust particle filter fitted to the brake system prevents the discharge of brake dust to the environment. And the occupants of the vehicle are protected by an NO2 fine dust combi-filter.
The eye-catching design of the vehicles makes them hard to overlook as they drive around the area of Stuttgart and other places. My boys are always excited when I occasionally come home in the fine dust eater vehicle because I usually go to work by bicycle: “Hey, can you take us for a drive?”, are the first greetings when I enter the house. Sure, I can 😉
New approaches for project management
The fine dust eater technology platform has allowed us at MANN+HUMMEL to enter new territory in a number of ways. One is in terms of technology, as it enables us to transfer our know-how as a filtration specialist over to new, future-oriented application fields. Another is in terms of customers, as we (still) do not have a definite customer who comes to us with exact requirements and says this is exactly how we will do it. This leaves us more freedom in the area of development and that gives our team the chance to try out working methods which are different to existing methods. I am thinking here about approaches such as Design thinking or SCRUM, which help teams to work quicker and more purposefully.
Design Thinking, for example, is based on the assumption that the problem is better solved when people of different disciplines work together in an environment which promotes creativity. SCRUM on the other hand is an agile working method which puts us in a position to work with high concentration on subjects and in a very short time to generate tactile results in the form of prototypes and to test these together with customers at an early stage. In a first step this does not have to be a 95% prototype, 70% will do at first. In addition, we integrate the customer in the project at a very early stage and give the customer the opportunity to strongly identify with the subject, as the customer can directly help to shape an own solution.
What stakeholders and big data have to do with the fine dust eater
The context in which our innovative team is working is newer and bigger than that found elsewhere. We interact with a much wider circle of stakeholders which is not limited to classic OEMs, suppliers and our colleagues worldwide. The subject of fine dust affects cities and communities, and, as we have recently seen, as a premiere in Germany the city of Hamburg has introduced a ban on two roads for cars and trucks which do not conform to the Euro 6 emission standard.
On January 1, 2019 Stuttgart will follow with a general ban for all Euro 4 diesels or older. We are in contact with political and scientific networks and are working together with institutes and research consortia. This is partly new for us or is being practiced much more intensively than was previously the case.
A further aspect is very interesting. The innovative developments in connection with the fine dust eater have been made in the era of industry 4.0 and big data. We are also working on making our technology intelligent and equipping the test vehicles with sensors to enable the system itself to measure and determine the state of the system and the ambient air. Then the system uses an internet connection to upload the data to a cloud. The data we collect from the many projects help us to open up new markets and find new customers.
The video was part of the internal global campaign „#ChallengeAccepted“ at MANN+HUMMEL.
Our project also participated in an internal global campaign from MANN+HUMMEL and we recorded this video. The video helped us to give our colleagues around the world a better understanding of our project. As we were the first to enter this new field at MANN+HUMMEL, we would like colleagues to be in a position to understand the basics of what we are doing. The company has placed its trust in us and we would like to repay this trust in the very near future.
5 km every day to work and back
I appear in the video as a cyclist. The concepts of both the bicycle and fine dust eater are for me simply authentic. Every day I ride five kilometers to work on the bike, whatever the weather. For me it’s a real alternative to the car, bus or train. I travel inexpensively to work in an environmental manner and I am just as quick as when I take the car to do the same journey. This enables me to easily get my 40 minutes of sport in every day.
We live in a time where many things get scrutinized and some things which are tried and tested have to be abandoned. We owe it to our children to question things and to a certain extent to reinvent ourselves. MANN+HUMMEL is currently doing just that and I am proud that our team is part of the process.