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Strategy
28/03/2018

Successful Co-Engineering through digitalisation

The next level of collaboration: igus and HARTING show, how it works
Lasse-Pekka Thiem
Lasse-Pekka Thiem
Senior System Architect, HARTING IT Software Development
Co-Engineering_Artwork

If one compares the terms modification and co-engineering side by side, the significant difference lies initially in the corresponding development phase of the resulting solution. While a modification is made on the basis of an already developed product, co-engineering comes into force at a much earlier stage: during the development of a solution. The customer is significantly involved in the agile development process. The optimisation of the design leads to the adaptation of the design of the overall solution and, as a result, the resulting associated adaptation of the customer requirement. This leads to the optimisation of the overall solution, not just the individual components.

One example is the cooperation with long-time partner igus:

While the two companies cooperated in the past with regard to standard solutions, the partnership has now been raised to the level of joint co-engineering. Against a background of increasing modularity which igus is driving forward in several areas, in igus' assembly division the idea was born to develop a connector housing that can be adapted to almost any geometry. Due to considerable customer interest, HARTING and igus quickly agreed to refine this idea and to bring it to market maturity. Specific requirements – such as the redesign of the cable outlets – made it necessary to deviate from the classic housing concept and enhance it. As a solution provider for their customers, in order to be able to achieve an appropriate overall solution for energy chains the new housing situation had to be adapted to the existing Han-Modular® solution.

These requirements were taken up by the HARTING Technology Group and, in a joint development effort, the various elements and functions were incorporated in an applicationspecific manner. Consequently, development was kicked off in a team with igus GmbH, which knows its application in detail. Here, it was inherently important that communication took place at the developer level and in direct contact.

In the course of digitisation, this form of exchange at the same level can take place without difficulty. Long communication channels and potential misunderstandings are eliminated at an early stage. Now, thanks to the digital mapping of processes from both the customer and HARTING sides, developers can communicate with developers. At the same time, the adjacent departments and ultimately all stakeholders have access to the data space at all times and can play their part in an active discussion.

Project teams in digital project spaces

Nevertheless, it is important to bring the respective project teams to a common table at regular intervals to ensure compliance and to align milestones. Digitisation comes to the fore here as well: today, this common table does need to be a real one, but rather shared digital project spaces. These can be e.g. video conferencing, collaboration tools like Yammer, Sharepoint, etc. These aids contribute to digitisation as the sum of the transparency of communication and information. In the middle of the action stands the individual: he or she must open up and use the media channels at their disposal to enter into joint communication for a common development or solution goal. This communication is characterised by asynchrony, as locality and being bound by time are dissolved. Each participant receives relevant information and can also provide input independent of time.

This communication is characterised by asynchrony, as locality and being bound by time are dissolved.

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