Transmission solenoid TS 28 – Thomas wins out in the end


(Caption from left to right:) Heiko Binder with his colleagues Heiner Held and Christian Häberle

Heiko Binder, Director Sales & Marketing (Transmission Management) at Thomas, is a firm believer in the rewards of perseverance. In 2017, after ten years of preparatory work and despite an extremely demanding set of requirements, various setbacks, and a strong field of competitors, his team finally won the contract for a project marking a new chapter in the company’s history …

In terms of revenue, it is the biggest single project Thomas has ever been awarded. Technologically, it is highly complex and challenging, and requires an exceptional level of expertise. Thomas worked hand in hand with the client on the development of its TS 28 transmission solenoid. Production is due to begin in early 2019.

Together with his colleagues Marc Leinweber (Head of Product & Process Development) and Michael Ermert (Project Management), Heiko Binder was closely involved in the project right from the start. The TS 28 will be used in cars with both automatic and double clutch transmissions – nine solenoids for conventional transmissions and ten for hybrid transmissions. “Our client invited bids for the development of a technically very complex component as part of a wider model upgrade project,” explains Heiko Binder. “Unlike the usual facelift, this was more than just a few visual enhancements. The new solenoid would be expected to perform a series of complex tasks within the transmission.” A comprehensive set of specifications laid out the framework conditions and objectives and forced Thomas to devise an entirely new concept. One of the key specifications involved optimizing certain hysteresis values. Hysteresis is a complex set of system behaviors that can have a significant impact on efficiency and performance within the transmission.

“‘You’ve earned it,’ said our client when the contract was finally awarded. We were over the moon when we heard that acknowledgement of our work. Once again, the development of the TS 28 showed that no work is ever wasted. All those earlier projects have helped us to build up our expertise and confidence in our ability to innovate. After a long wait, we had gained recognition for our way of looking at systems and understanding them and for our own efforts to move the technology forward.” Heiko Binder

“Taken literally, hysteresis means lagging behind or with a delayed impact,” explains Heiko Binder. “Without being too technical, it is about the predictability of inputs and outputs in a system where the output of an individual component depends not only on the current input, but also on its history of past inputs and its current state. Based on our client’s specifications, we had to optimize both the module’s magnetic and mechanical hysteresis values. Lower values indicate a smaller loss of performance and therefore greater efficiency.”

It took a long time to reach the production stage – altogether ten years of preparatory work during which Thomas achieved various benchmarks and only narrowly missed winning several projects. It was also a time of tremendous persistence and learning and of building up trust through previous projects.

For Heiko Binder, it was the bid as an overall package that eventually won the company the contract: “The price was just one of many strong elements of the bid we put together. We didn’t just work our way through the specifications one by one. It all came together at a personal level, too. At the end of the day, we won out over firms with a six-figure workforce. That’s a huge boost to our profile. From now on, others will see us as a competitor and supplier to be reckoned with.”

Standardization versus diversity?

The TS is highly scalable, can be adapted flexibly to different client systems, and incorporates the valve function required by the system. These features make it ideal for ongoing modular development. Standardization does not have to be restrictive. If used in the right way, it can even lead to greater product diversity. By way of example, the solenoid and valve module developed by Thomas can be extended into a cartridge valve and offers all the benefits of standardization while meeting the individual needs of our clients, e.g., with regard of cost-effectiveness.

Peter Rollepatz
Director Brand and Communication

Source: OEM & Lieferant, Issue 1/2019