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ZF Friedrichshafen AG / Germany

Carsten Finger, Manager Business Unit CV Chassis International Project Management on data management

Prior to the Smart Automotive Variantcon 2013, we.CONECT spoke with Carsten Finger, Manager Business Unit CV Chassis International Project Management, ZF Friedrichshafen AG / Germany we.CONECT: In your opinion - what are the main current challenges and trends regarding automotive variant management? Carsten Finger: The differences between shortened lifetimes of car/ truck models in the automotive industry in contrary to the components suppliers which try to get an “extract” for their standards to accelerate their processes is a big challenge. On one hand, it is necessary to introduce Innovations which destabilizes the basic of standards, on the other hand, old versions still stay in the market because the facelifts of customers are not all at the same time and aftermarket changes are not very welcome. Another big challenge is the calculation of advantages, as this is also a LEAN Production issue, as usually it is hard to convince Managements as KPI’s are not easy to define and to control. we.CONECT: How is your company reacting to these challenges? What future potential do you see? Carsten Finger: As we deal especially in the truck automotive industry, we have a little longer lifetime of truck models and related components. What we are doing is a harmonization of subcomponents on the different levels within the value stream. It is very important to define the interfaces of variant creation in between and limit it within single steps. Furthermore we are pooling engineering changes related to customers and define “Must” and “Can” changes within the value stream. we.CONECT: What projects are you currently working at regarding variant management? What particularity do they possess?

Carsten Finger: The process of ‘Clear up products’ and the questions that are related with it like what is existing, what is necessary and what can be cancelled from all systems? Another project is the harmonization of machining contours along with the standard contours definition, change of existing parts and cancelling obsoletes. Furthermore, I am working on the configurator for the defined standards and subsequent calculation. we.CONECT: Please describe in brief the discussion you will be holding on the Smart Automotive Variantcon 2013: Carsten Finger: As I will be moderator of a round table I would only generate a “one Pager” to channel the discussion a little bit. Main focus will be on questions such as: What are the data we have in the framework of ERP System, Design Data System, and others? How are they connected by means of one way exchanges, automatic or manual interfaces? Which stakeholders do we have and what are the roles -key-players or followers? we.CONECT: What are the key challenges of your project? Carsten Finger: The key challenge for us is reacting to individual customer requirements, and successfully implementing engineering changes, taking into account the required testing platform, the cost of changes and the time frame required to complete the specific request. Beyond that, we have to deal with interdependencies between LeanProduction Projects and Variantmanagement that need to be managed, which is very time-consuming. In general, communication, coordination

and management consuming.




we.CONECT: What is your theory about peer networks? What can they do? Carsten Finger: Network can be used as a base to identify a common win-win strategy. The challenges of variant management are very different throughout the whole supply chain and to remain at the position “who has the market power rules the game” is blocking common synergies. Unfortunately, this would need a common approach within a major part of the automotive industry. we.CONECT: What do you like most about your job? What progress do you see in the industry development? Carsten Finger: I see this is a long term activity and it is connected to all areas of an operation. Close connection to Product-Management and Strategy on one hand but real “hands-on” on the other side. The progress is visible in small things, after four years, there are questions coming up from more persons than in the past and that shows, this arrived at operative level and benefits show up. we.CONECT: What expectations do you have regarding the Smart Automotive Variantcon 2013? Which outcome and benefit do you expect from the exchange with participating companies? Carsten Finger: It is interesting to get a feedback how the industry in general considers variant management. Complexity is killing us and the whole supply-chain causes it. When it comes to discussions every interface passes its responsibility to variant reduction.

We need to share different views, OEM vs. supplier and opposite way. I would like to have a good time and nice discussions. we.CONECT: Thanks a lot for this interview! Interview Partner: Nicole Steuer and Carsten Finger. Carsten Finger started his career as HR administrator at Elastogran GmbH and went through several professional positions at ZF Lernförder GmbH as distribution logistics specialist and Account Manager for the Asian region. At ZF Friedrichshafen he holds a position as Project Manager for Variant and Product Management for commercial vehicle components. Smart Automotive Variantcon 2013 is a global automotive conference that discusses current challenges, brand new approaches and future trends about variant management and the simplification of complexity in the automotive engineering sector. Information about the event and about we.CONECT can be found at: Contact: Dr. Klaudia Malowitz Senior Product Manager Phone: +49 (0)30 52 10 70 3 – 48 Fax: +49 (0)30 52 10 70 3 – 30 Email:

we.CONECT Global Leaders GmbH Gertraudenstr. 10-12 10178 Berlin, Germany

Interview with Carsten Finger, ZF Friedrichshafen / Germany  

Prior to the Smart Automotive Variantcon 2013, we.CONECT spoke with Carsten Finger, Manager Business Unit CV Chassis International Project M...

Interview with Carsten Finger, ZF Friedrichshafen / Germany  

Prior to the Smart Automotive Variantcon 2013, we.CONECT spoke with Carsten Finger, Manager Business Unit CV Chassis International Project M...