MANN+HUMMEL’s strategy in terms of innovation is to enhance networking. In today’s business world, it is not enough for big companies to have just one research facility; it is very important to cooperate and reach out to create new ideas. Our cooperation program with the Ecole Centrale de Nantes gives us access to their facilities and their testing and simulation centre, and we also profit from the contact with people who have great engineering expertise. This means it is not necessary for us to create our own new structures; rather we can make use of the existing facilities for our innovative work. This is also a global strategy, which is why in recent months we have established new research facilities in Raleigh, USA, as well as in China.
Professional team at Ecole Centrale de nantes
The team at the Ecole Centrale de Nantes, headed by David Chalet, consists of three engineers, one assistant engineer, three doctorates, five master students, and two post doctorates. They will work with us to try to optimise thermal and air management systems in combustion engines and explore new ways of reducing pollutants, CO2 emissions, and fuel consumption.
The cooperation will last for five years, but needs a good kick-start. The key for successful collaboration is to establish a good network between the people involved as quickly as possible. So my first task was to set up a Sharepoint Exchange Platform for handling tasks and schedules. This is very useful for the organisation and allows direct contact between the different members of the team.
The Ecole Centrale de Nantes – a great place with great reputation
The Ecole Centrale de Nantes is an institution of higher education and research, and is also a member of the French Ecoles Centrales group (which consists of famous schools in Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, and Paris). Centrale Nantes teaches engineering, master, and PhD students the forefront of scientific and technological developments and also introduces them to the best managerial practices. It also has a great reputation in the fields of transverse and multidisciplinary problems in connection with energetics (internal combustion engines, thermal management, and rational use of energy).
MANN+HUMMEL France (MHFR) and Centrale Nantes have cooperated a number of times in recent years. In 2009 for example, we started a consortium with nine companies, universities, and laboratories. This so called “OCSYGENE 6 consortium” came to a completion at the end of 2012. It was a complex project and the main challenge was to coordinate the different aims of the various partners.
Working together, profit from collaboration
This year, therefore, we decided to establish a 5-year cooperation solely between MANN+HUMMEL France and Ecole Centrale de Nantes. The new structure allows us to be more flexible in terms of our research activities.
The cooperation has three internal customers inside the MANN+HUMMEL Group who work with Ecole Centrale de Nantes. Our activities will focus on three specific fields: research and innovation topics, support for Automotive Original Equipment business related to thermal management, and development activities for MHFR. Together with a French team at MHFR, I am responsible for the innovation topics and project coordination: my tasks include handling requests coming from the different organisations, coordinating schedules, and monitoring the tasks of these internal customers.
I think both MANN+HUMMEL and the Ecole Centrale de Nantes will profit from this collaboration.