Development methods

Interview with Dr. Markus Kliffken

Thinking along new lines or how BPW’s innovation management is set to conquer future markets.

Dr. Markus Kliffken is a member of the board of management and responsible for BPW’s innovation management. In this interview, he reveals how the company is driving forward developments, and how they are completely redefining the trailer.

How can billions of sensors communicate with each other?
Development methods -Interview with Dr. Markus Kliffken
“BPW provides a playing field for developers. The industry spans an abundance
of fields and diverse challenges that will shape the future.”

Over the past year BPW has presented a whole series of innovations, and within the industry you are rightly regarded as a driver of innovation. What strategy are you pursuing?

Dr. Markus Kliffken: Ideas do not come about of their own accord, and only rarely are they strokes of luck. As a general rule they are the result of intensive work on content. At BPW we have quite consciously created a culture of ideas that is aimed at fostering innovation. Here employees are encouraged to rethink things as well as to think laterally and try things out, also in their everyday activities. Instead of squeezing out more from existing structures, we are consciously creating a culture in which we can devote ourselves to new ideas. In Wiehl and Siegburg we have our own innovation labs where interdisciplinary teams are working on forward-looking solutions for our industry. These two facilities serve as beacons throughout the company. Our customers are also closely integrated. Their requirements are important drivers of development. That’s why we have gone beyond cooperating and now share our workspace. Ultimately, we reflect on many different perspectives on the path to innovation, and proceed systematically.

What is the advantage of opening up product development in all directions?

Dr. Markus Kliffken: Openness gives us a considerable head start, because innovation only takes place when ideas are effectively brought into play. For this reason, we use every available channel, from employee and customer surveys to ideas contributed by our customer base and approaches from outside the industry.

What other factors influence innovation management?

Dr. Markus Kliffken: We think in terms of added value. All of our developments in the BPW Group are aimed at providing forward-looking and viable solutions, and attaining lasting increases in customer benefit. We work towards optimisation, we aren’t interested in innovation as an end in itself. We want to bring sophisticated products and systems with added value to the market. What is critical in this process is to explore the right approaches and then implement them with the right technologies. In other words, effectiveness and efficiency become crucially important, because nobody wants a great solution that cannot be financed, is too complicated to use, has arrived too late.

Do effectiveness and efficiency represent the recipe for success in innovation?

Dr. Markus Kliffken: Both effectiveness and efficiency are important in order to move forward on the right path in the right way. But there is no panacea for success. Innovation management works with curiosity on the one hand and methodology on the other. We consider many different aspects in the course of our decision-making process, and are very strict when we make our choice. Alongside classical methods such as PEP and PjM, agile innovation methods also play a key role as they accelerate developments enormously. The same applies to simultaneous engineering – a method of designing and developing products in which individual stages run simultaneously, which enables us to integrate our partners early in the development process.

Development methods - Interview with Dr. Markus Kliffken
DID YOU KNOW that compared to the traditional way of fastening belts, the Hestal belt lift system enables drivers to achieve time savings of more than 50 percent when securing the load?

There are many aspects that have an effect. Why does acceleration play such an important role?

Dr. Markus Kliffken: At present the development process is undergoing an elementary change. It must become faster because markets are changing in ever shorter cycles. There are a number of reasons for this acceleration: new technologies, legal requirements and fierce competition are all factors, as is ongoing digitisation. Previously we had real development cycles of more than five years. Although the period has since been reduced to three to four years, it remains too long. We must continue to shorten product development time. It must be our objective to be able to respond swiftly to a specific requirement. To achieve this, we divide developments into calculable intermediate steps. Internally we are pursuing a two-year approach. In other words, we are aiming to win over the industry with a new innovation every two years. At IAA 2016 we were very successful in this respect.

Two years is an unusually short development period for the industry. Can you give us a first indication of the developments that we can expect in the lead-up to IAA 2018? 

Dr. Markus Kliffken: The trailer offers immense innovation potential. It is already evolving from a mere appendage into an intelligent and efficient factor in interconnected transport. At this time, the trailer is, so to speak, the last blind spot in the logistics chain. In terms of digitisation, the trailer remains stuck in the last millennium – the industry therefore has a great deal of catching up to do. We can see many different starting points for creating added value. We will be presenting a new braking innovation as early as next spring.

Courage is a good keyword. What role does courage play in the development of new products?

Dr. Markus Kliffken: Courage is an essential feature of innovation. The courage to try something new, to fail early, to continue researching and to implement something quickly – this is what makes development possible in the first place. With 120 years of company history and very strong subsidiaries, BPW is in the fortunate position of having enough experience and enough strength to strike out on new paths. This means that we can show courage.

Is there a product that already translates these new approaches to development into customer benefit?

Dr. Markus Kliffken: One specific example is cargofleet, the truck-trailer telematics system. It fulfils the requirements of the industry to a particularly large extent because it not only covers the traction unit but can also connect the truck, trailer, route management and loading systems, as well as other information services through internet of transport. To capture transport as a whole – that’s the challenge of the future, and it can only be mastered with reliable and wellinterconnected data. The focus is therefore on systemic and comprehensive solutions that give consideration to the interplay of axles, body structure technology, composite technology, lighting, electronics, telematics and services, while offering new functionalities. For example, we are on the road with a rolling test lab in the Rhineland, testing a wide range of sensors, new camera systems, as well as radar and laser scanners. We are concentrating not only on new technologies for these applications, but also on cost-effectiveness and low barriers to market entry.

Is BPW departing from traditional paths in favour of entirely new ones?

Dr. Markus Kliffken: BPW is firmly rooted in the industry – we want to continue to do justice to our strong position. We see ourselves as an international mobility and system partner for the transport industry. By focusing on new digital developments, we are helping to ensure that our customers are fit for the future. However, we are not departing from our core business, but are continually expanding it with new solutions!

idem telematics - cargofleet 3 for transport and logistics

The all-in-one telematics platform cargofleet 3 interconnects trucks, trailers, vans and swap bodies with the driver, dispatcher, shipper and recipient.

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