Product Champion for Technical Plastic Parts – this is not the profession I would have dreamed about as a young boy (in fact, I always wanted to drive a dustcart). It is nevertheless a tremendously exciting field. Not just because I am fascinated by technology and our products but also due to the impact of these products on vehicles world-wide – and thus also on our environment.
The current trend in engine construction is ‘downsizing’: less displacement and fewer cylinders mean lower fuel consumption, less CO2 and less pollutants. To maintain or even increase engine performance, however, turbochargers are often used, in fact sometimes two or three of them. Turbochargers increase the efficiency of the engine by pushing compressed air into the combustion chamber. We at MANN+HUMMEL supply the relevant plastic charge air ducts. These are the air lines between turbo and engine. It is a really complex and technically demanding topic because the turbo heats and pressurises the air.
As well as this development, there is also the trend towards weight reduction. As a result, more and more metallic parts are being replaced by plastic components. Current examples include the oil pans below the engine block and the covers on the upper part of the cylinder block. We are also working to produce a plastic front cover for the engine.
As Product Champion, I have the exciting task to achieve optimum results from the wide range of plastic products and across all areas of operation: starting with the product innovations themselves, via new manufacturing technology right through to new functionalities in the engine. Not just questions about production and costs – the focus is also on quality. One must also bear in mind that we serve the entire supply chain, including the aftermarket.
As Product Champion, I have content-related responsibility for the technical plastics product segment but no staff in the various areas report to me directly. I do however have responsibility for development of technical plastic parts. This makes my job a lot easier and more transparent. Through this – and of course through the support of a team – I have a constant overview of our products.
People always ask me which products I look after, in my role as Champion for technical plastic parts. In principle, it includes any MANN+HUMMEL products which cannot be categorised as filters or intake manifolds. There are six product groups:
- The first segment is air-ducting parts in the engine, both on the raw side in front of the filter and also on the clean side.
- Related to this, there are the charge air ducts, in other words parts which convey air behind the turbo on the high-pressure side.
- The third application area is acoustics, often in combination with the first two segments. At MANN+HUMMEL, we produce a wide selection of acoustic components which on the one hand reduce unwanted noises and on the other hand make it possible to create sound design, in other words, to adapt the sound of the engine to meet manufacturers’ requests. It’s clear that a sports car needs to sound like a sports car.
- We also manufacture all types of reservoirs for the engine compartment, for example for windscreen washer fluid, for coolant and brake fluid.
- The fifth, rapidly expanding area is oil separators in crankcase ventilation systems. They separate oil from the blow-by gas escaping from the crankcase, which is then returned to the engine. It is therefore now possible for passenger cars to travel up to 30,000 km without an oil change, in the past it was only 5,000 km.
- With our technical plastic parts, we are also well prepared for the development of alternative drive systems, such as electric and fuel cell vehicles. We have been producing battery housings, ventilation units and dryer cartridges for quite some time now. We supply, so to speak, a ‘feel-good package’ for batteries which are sensitive to heat, cold and damp.
We have made a lot of progress with our technical plastic parts over the past four years. Personally, this gives me a great sense of achievement. We had set ourselves a challenging task. I am delighted that we have managed to become a vital part of the MANN+HUMMEL family, contributing to the business results and actively supporting development of our company with its focus on filtration.