Grupo Antolin’s R&D activities may be conducted in any of the corporation’s companies, departments, and facilities and involve not only its technical and business departments but also a large team of external partners:
People: over 1,400 people engaged in performing R&D activities (5.12% of technological employment).
Associations: Grupo Antolin works with 36 universities and research organizations and belongs to 32 international associations directly connected to R&D activities.
- Innovation at Grupo Antolin is a cross-cutting area and not the preserve of a single department.
- As a result of this process Grupo Antolin has 53 projects in the research stage, over 50 in the validation stage, and 27 innovative solutions available for development in the market. Most of these projects are about studying advanced materials, processes, and features which help to drive Grupo Antolin’s leadership in automobile interiors.
- R&D represented 2.96% of sales in 2017.
Grupo Antolin, Smart Integrator
Grupo Antolin is addressing these changes by standing out in the market as a ‘Smart Integrator’. The idea is to be an integrator of electronic and lighting solutions for car interior components and thus bring them greater added value. This means Grupo Antolin will offer innovative solutions to its customers to build intelligence into their automobile interiors and help them develop their future vehicles.
FACING THE CHALLENGES OF THE FUTURE
Grupo Antolin’s leadership position is the outcome of our commitment to innovation as a means of flexibly and efficiently adapting to a changing and extremely competitive international market.
Grupo Antolin has drawn up its innovation strategy so as to successfully address a period of disruptive changes in the automotive industry. These changes are having a special impact on vehicle interiors where components have to be envisioned, designed, and manufactured to respond to new global trends.
The final consolidation of the 100% electric vehicle, closely connected to the emergence of new urban mobility models, calls for further progress in aspects concerning reducing weight and developing modular solutions with utmost functional integration and packaging.
Powertrain electrification also has other implications for Grupo Antolin in vehicle interior innovation:
- Thermal comfort optimization
- Surface heating technologies
- Vibro-acoustic performance optimization
The inclusion of advanced assistance systems in vehicles is allowing progressive automation of driving.
The freeing up of space associated with electric powertrains and decreasing driver attention requirements will turn vehicle interiors into a third living area in which we can do things in addition to the ones we do at home and in the workplace. Until then, car interiors will need to be equipped with new connectivity, information, and entertainment solutions while at the same time onboard comfort aspects will have to be reconsidered:
- New interior architectures
- Redefinition of spaces
- Advanced functions: New mechatronic solutions / Advanced Lighting Solutions (Dynamic L.) / Premium Solutions: OHC+
Vehicles are now another connected device we have to hand (smart car). The need for communication with their occupants, the vehicles around them, and the road infrastructure itself will increase as their automation evolves:
- Connector and wiring integration: Functional printing
- Sensor and actuator integration
- Communication aerial integration
- Display integration
- Monitoring camera integration
New urban mobility models
Increasingly frequent bouts of air pollution and the consequent bans on entering large city centers by car have led to new forms of mobility and the emergence of new business models based on car sharing.
Intensive use of these cars combined with their usage by a greater number of users will significantly reduce the vehicle’s service life. It will also impact particular aspects of automobile interior comfort. Consequently Grupo Antolin is working on:
- Quick part replacement designs
- More hardwearing surfaces
- Easy-clean surfaces
- Antiseptic properties
- Odorless properties
The importance of differentation
Consumers want to reflect a lifestyle with their car, and this together with the industry’s drive to promote design and technology variety has led to an increase in the number of automobile ranges and models in recent years.
Each brand’s models compete to stand out in the market by offering their customers an increasing number of customization options. Grupo Antolin is innovating in this field:
- Materials and technologies for decorating surfaces: Digital printing
- Dynamic Glow®
- Ambient lighting as a means of standing out: Surplight® / Backlit®, etc.
Environmental and Circular Economy commitements
As part of its commitment to conducting sustainable business, Grupo Antolin uses innovation to support the circular economy and reduced energy usage.
Grupo Antolin sees reducing vehicle structure and component weight as a key research area for cutting fuel usage and pollution. Consequently it is working on:
- Technologies for processing composite materials
- Structural foaming materials and processes in substrates and soft trims
- Functional integration(window regulators)
- Modularization (DHM and DHM+)
- Advanced carbon materials
Grupo Antolin also innovates to support the circular economy in the automotive industry and extend it throughout its value chain as part of its commitment to conducting sustainable business:
- Technologies for processing materials featuring high recycled content (Novaform®).
- 100% natural materials(easy recyclability)
- Recovery of waste from our own processes (Coretech®)
Grupo Antolin is moving forward to embrace new automotive trends, evolving not only its products but also the way they are manufactured and offered to its customers.
The company’s strategy includes developing programs to implement advanced manufacturing technologies in order to be more competitive.
Grupo Antolin needs to supply increasingly specific components (personalization) with demand that can be very variable instead of large volumes of undifferentiated components.
To do that it needs industrial facilities which are sufficiently flexible to adapt to new requirements and in which standardized processes are implemented that allow producing in different factories or different countries with the same quality conditions and guarantees.
This also entails highly efficient production processes to ensure responsible raw material and energy usage so as to comply with the industry’s strict environmental requirements.Grupo Antolin tiene la necesidad de suministrar componentes cada vez más específicos (personalización), con demandas que pueden ser muy variables, en lugar de grandes volúmenes de componentes indiferenciados.
Innovation program for manufacturing processes
Grupo Antolin has a program in place to apply advanced manufacturing throughout its value chain which is geared towards efficient use of the huge quantity of information we manage.
The idea is to make our processes and systems “smarter” so as to optimize quality control, predictive maintenance, and internal logistics, which are the three main areas of application of advanced manufacturing in the company.
Grupo Antolin’s innovation process is divided into projects at three levels:
Stage I: CREATING INNOVATION
They are R&D projects for studying generic technologies and their potential application in introducing innovations into products or processes of interest to the company.
Stage II: INNOVATION PROGRAMS
These are innovation programs which further study the application of the results obtained in the development of successfully concluded Stage I projects. Stage II projects set out conceptual models for conducting validation plans and may conclude with prototype development.
Stage III: MARKET ACCESS FOR INNOVATION
Projects which support the development of innovations from the validation stages successfully carried out during Stage II projects
Our innovation process is not only about products and processes but also concerns our customers’ specific interests. We seek to meet manufacturers’ growing demand for single contacts in the market they can work with from a project’s initial stages and who can also deliver global platforms.