At electronica 2016 Electronic Specifier Editor Joe Bush caught up with Dieter Roeder and Juergen Scheele, Senior Vice President and GM, and Vice President respectively, of Littelfuse’s Automotive Business Unit, about how the company’s experience in this sector is playing a key role as electronics become increasingly integral in automotive applications.
Looking back through the history of Littelfuse and you can see that the Chicago-based electronic manufacturing company has had a long-standing partnership with the automotive industry in terms of qualification or products and experience in the in-car environment. Roeder commented: “In parallel to this we have a very strong electronics section, focusing on everything that uses electronics. So that combination of experience and expertise is what really differentiates us from our competitors.”
The trend over the last few years has seen more electronic content in vehicles and in order to provide the right solutions to its customers, four months ago Littelfuse formed a group focused solely on automotive electronics, which bridges all the product and technology responsibilities in that space.
Key to this in the modern world is clearly the need to increase component performance while at the same time reducing size. Roeder added: “This is a need that is obviously present in the handheld devices world as there is no space in a mobile phone for example. However, it’s now very present in the automotive industry, so we use what we have learned in technology and development to develop, with our partners in the industry, the products they need.”
Scheele continued: “The space we get allotted for our products from our customers gets smaller and smaller while at the same time, the temperature in the gear box for example, goes up and up, and while that asks for a technology shift within the sensor, it also asks for greater understanding of the application – and that’s what Littelfuse is all about. That automotive knowledge is really embedded in our DNA.
“My team knows that cars need to be lighter, which in turn translates into lower emissions. Being green is a megatrend and it’s driving the need for heavy parts within the car, such as engines, to be smaller – we’re seeing more sub two litre engines around the world, more light weight transmission boxes and technology within the vehicle that is helping manufacturers produce a more energy efficient car.”
An example of this could be seen on the Littelfuse stand at electronica which featured the company’s range of solar sensors. These are firstly a comfort item, as they talk to the HVAC system, but they also use information from the system to drive and control the HVAC compressor.
Scheele added: “To cool a car you need energy and the energy in a car either comes from the battery or from the gas tank. And the better you control your HVAC compressor the better your fuel consumption, and the lower your emissions. So we’ve taken something that used to be purely focused on comfort that can now help auto makers be more diligent and smarter about gas consumption.”
In summary Roeder added: “We want to offer a complete portfolio of technologies to our customers. We want them to be able to choose within one company, and between technologies. And have the same experience of reliability, quality and delivery performance without having to switch between companies. We’re moving towards lower volume, higher mix, really customer specific products. And with this we’ve had to adjust our way of manufacturing and our supply chain. That is a challenge but it’s one that we can meet thanks to our experience within the automotive industry.”