SU Development Electronics rethinks customer systems

Field of competence: Electronics

Thomas has a long tradition in actuator technology. However, this does not mean that the Herdorf-based company is resting on its laurels. The whole team is fired up as it embraces the future with its formula for innovation: “Sense. Think. Act.” (STA). And thanks to the combined expertise of everyone within the Service Unit Electronic, more and more customers are enjoying the benefits of integrated solutions for their systems.

In 2018, with its “Sense. Think. Act” concept, Thomas found the perfect response to a trend that was emerging at the time and that has been accelerating ever since: the growing complexity of customers’ systems. In fact, customers are increasingly looking for integrated solutions rather than individual components. This can only be achieved with the help of more electronics; with know-how and ideas; with the right people in the right places; and, ultimately, with an integrated process of system development that closely follows customer needs.

STA: from vision to reality

In response to this trend, Thomas set up the Service Unit Development Electronics in the summer of 2018. The Service Unit (SU) team ensures the success of STA products, for example, by equipping actuators with sensors and integrating them seamlessly into the customers’ systems. The specialized SU designs new electronic functions for hardware and software – with impressive results. The Electromechanical Actuator (EMA) and the Electrohydraulic Actuator (EHA) have long been in series production and are attracting strong interest in the market. Other products are about to go into series production. The team also supports numerous acquisition projects from the Customer Units, and these could soon generate further STA products.

Alongside the well-known Thomas quality and the team’s strong spirit of innovation, there are two key reasons for this success: the speed of development and the ease with which “Sense. Think. Act.” products can be integrated into customer systems. These two factors have not come about by chance but because the developers in the SU Development Electronics have consistently focused on the platform concept. All applications for the Customer Units are built on the basis of the same platform using pre-developed interfaces from microcontrollers and software. This means that even specific, one-off customer requests can be implemented much more quickly. Agile development processes and customer-oriented development methods such as SCRUM can develop the traditional methods based on specification sheets.

Investing in equipment and expertise

There is no doubt that electronics is the gateway to future business in the areas of construction machinery, autonomous driving, electromobility, and the digitalization of vehicles. It is, therefore, vital to build up expertise and invest in new test facilities. For example, it is important to know how to shield products against sources of electromagnetic interference in order to establish EMC compatibility, something that is extremely important to customers. In addition another key prerequisite is appropriate technology, which is why Thomas has invested in his own EMC chamber and measuring devices.

This investment pays off, says Chief Technology Officer Jürgen Heck.

Speed of development and ease.