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SaarGummi Automotive: A Smart IT Concept for Global Product Design

When auto makers order sealing systems for their latest car models from SaarGummi, the company’s development team wants to make sure that their processes and results are completely in line with the clients’ wishes. That’s why Christian Kast, responsible for development activities at SaarGummi, and his colleagues Dr. Lukas Nowicki in his capacity as Head of Global Product Design and development IT specialist Martin Mörsdorf, act proactively in designing the IT landscape that drives product development. We spoke to Dr. Lukas Nowicki about SaarGummi’s challenges and strategies as a Tier-1 supplier.

SaarGummi Automotive is the largest business unit of SaarGummi Group, which employs about 6,400 staff in 13 countries and at 23 locations around the globe.

Around 100,000 hours of development work per year

About 60 people work in SaarGummi’s development division, distributed across the company’s three development centers in Germany, China and India. The international team supports clients in preparing new models for serial manufacture or modifying sealing systems when the auto makers give their products a facelift.

As a global leader in auto sealing systems, SaarGummi boasts comprehensive materials expertise, engineering excellence and high-performing simulation software tools. The company invests approx. 100,000 hours of development work each year to ensure that requirements regarding function, design, weight and cost all receive equal consideration. Also, the aim of developing sealing systems with a minimum CO2 footprint is steadily gaining importance. SaarGummi supports clients in best-possible realization of their ideas and specifications.

Virtual prototype testing on the rise

Lukas Nowicki reports that “digital simulation is becoming more and more important to us. In many instances, we rely on virtual prototypes to give us all the insights that we used to gain from real-world testing. Just ten years ago, we needed about 30 months to bring a car sealing system to series maturity. During that time, we usually ran two prototype phases with up to 200 prototype vehicles, testing the limits of the new sealing systems under maximum conditions: -40°C at the polar circle and +50°C in the desert. We also conducted endurance tests, e.g. opening and shutting a car door up to 100,00 times to ensure that the door would perform if the vehicle was used as a taxi. But gradually this methodology changed; at some point we began running just a single prototype phase. In the last two years, we started seeing projects in which companies – startups, but OEMs too – did away with real-world prototyping altogether and relied completely on virtual testing of their vehicles.”