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How to effectively develop control software for hybrid powertrains despite the distance and pandemic?

Schaeffler is one of the world’s largest family companies that is an expert in sustainable, innovative technologies, products, and services has chosen Sii as a partner for a computer simulation.  They are crucial to the development of software for hybrid cars produced by manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Honda, and DAF.  

First, pick a right partner for this journey 

The Schaeffler Group is a German manufacturer of rolling elements for automotive, aerospace, and other industries. Schaeffler in Slovakia manufactures driveline and chassis systems as well as turned and plain bearing solutions for a wide range of industrial applications. They are experts in innovative technologies, products, and services for CO₂-efficient drives, electromobility, Industry 4.0, digitalization, and renewable energies. This technology company also manufactures high-precision components and systems for powertrain. In 2020, Schaeffler Group generated revenue of approximately 12.6 billion Euros. With around 83,900 employees, Schaeffler is one of the world’s largest family companies and has a global network of manufacturing locations, research and development facilities, and sales companies with approximately 200 locations in over 50 countries. 

In Poland, Sii has been working with Schaeffler since September 2020. As we are a supplier very well known locally to other Polish companies, we also became an attractive partner for foreign clients. The initial discussions were more about getting to know our operations, analysing the execution of projects, and addressing possible support in R&D area. 

Then, define a common goal with clear plan for the future  

Schaeffler had difficulty finding experienced engineers in the local market in Slovakia. At the same time the company decided to expand their R&D department, so the need to employ professionals became a great priority. Schaeffler was familiar with the Polish market, so Sii was seen as a natural partner for international cooperation. 

In July 2021, there was a specific request from Schaeffler in R&D area for experienced software/hardware developers with a specialisation in computer simulation (Matlab/Simulink).  

–  We prearranged all the requirements for cooperation and the responsibilities of our engineers, and after only a few weeks we had a team of 4 people ready to start working at the beginning of September. First, for a week at the customer’s office in Kysuce, Slovakia and then fully remotely with the possibility to perform business trips to Slovakia as needed. The dynamics of work and the size of the team is determined by Schaeffler’s specific needs, which Sii supports with expert knowledge. Starting this project with Schaeffler is a real milestone for us. We hope to strengthen our cooperation and develop in other markets – says Szymon Karaś, Head of Industry Automotive, Rail and Aeronautics in Sii Poland.  

The beginning of cooperation went very smoothly. Once the main task was defined as the development of control software for electric systems designed for hybrid powertrains we could start to recruit the most experienced software and hardware engineers. Schaeffler accepted the chosen team without any major objections. Despite of restrictions caused by COVID-19 pandemic, Sii’s team managed to start smoothly with a week-long implementation at Schaeffler’s Slovakian plant. After preparing the appropriate documentation – training, information about the plant and products, and the structure of the organization the team was ready to work remotely. So far, Sii engineers conducted tests for predefined scenarios on selected subsystems, implemented some features related to signal routing, systems traceability, and contributed to the development of the torque control subsystem prototype. Most importantly, their tasks were reviewed, accepted, and integrated by a client. 

Finally, share the results with others  

– Schaeffler has gained a reliable partner in business and an experienced software IT team. Our successful cooperation is crucial to the development of software for hybrid cars produced by manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Honda, and DAF – says Francis Moebs, Electric Drive System Manager in Schaeffler Slovakia. 

From Sii’s point of view, this project shows how well we manage remote work. Each of our team members comes from a different city, and yet we are able to maintain a strong team spirit and deliver high quality solutions for our clients.  

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