Mobility innovations in this decade will surpass innovations made over the last century — Warren Harris, Tata Technologies

In an interview with Warren Harris, the CEO of Tata Technologies, we get to know more about Tata Technologies, its Mechatronics, the Tata-GKN collaboration, and how software and technology are crucial in building modern cars.

By:Updated: Oct 26, 2021 6:12 PM
warren harris, ceo, tata technologies

Tata, many know the brand as a carmaker. However, Tata has its roots deep in many other sectors, one of them being technology. Tata Technologies contributes a lot towards building safer cars, and with recent trends when the pandemic affected the automotive world, companies had to take a new approach, and so was the case with Tata Technologies.

To understand more about Tata Technologies, its Mechatronics, Tata Technologies’ collaboration with GKN Automotive, and how software and technology are becoming a crucial part of building automobiles, Express Mobility spoke to Warren Harris, the CEO of Tata Technologies.

Can you tell us more about the GKN Automotive-Tata collaboration? What is being developed and delivered from this centre in Bangalore?

Tata Technologies and GKN Automotive set up an advanced global e-mobility software engineering centre in Bengaluru, India in 2020. The Embedded software development centre at Bengaluru is a testament of two leading organizations collaborating to develop and deliver AUTOSAR solutions and contribute towards sustainable eMobility solutions. The center will utilise Tata Technology’s expertise in e-powertrain and embedded systems as well as its ability to attract India’s software engineering talent to work on GKN Automotive ’s next-generation e-Drive technologies, reshaping the future of sustainable e-mobility.

The centre is leading the AUTOSAR compliant mobility solutions development for GKN Automotive and delivering strategic solutions to OEMs from North America & Europe. The centre aims to augment GKN Automotive’ market leading position in its e-Drive technologies by helping it grow further and expand its technological capabilities. The global e-mobility software engineering center will help both companies expand and accelerate growth channels in the e-powertrain segment.

Right from the Tata Technologies vision of “Engineering a Better World” to GKN Automotive ‘s vision of “To drive a cleaner, more sustainable world through leading-edge drive systems”, both businesses are aligned towards offering solutions that pave the way towards cleaner and sustainable mobility. The collaboration between GKN-Automotive and Tata Technologies is the perfect example of executing its vision.

What is the role of software in car design, manufacturing, and post-sales service? What is Tata Technologies’ value proposition in each of these areas?

In the Automotive industry, it would be appropriate to say that software is the new source of differentiation for vehicles and businesses. Software design and development is witnessing a tremendous growth across the entire value chain enabling development of products faster, better and delivering more value for money. OEMs have been investing heavily in this area and are looking for partners/service providers who can help them develop more competitive products using software solutions and platforms.

Tata Technologies’ mission is to help our clients engineer better products and there are two key components to the company’s value proposition; the first one being outsourced product engineering services for our clients helping them conceptualize and design better products, and the second one is helping them manufacture, service and realize better products. We have been strategically investing in building its portfolio of software solutions and platforms which offer OEMs high customization along with low turnaround time for deployment and most of our innovations have been adopted globally by various leading OEMs.

In the vehicle design area, we have developed several proprietary platforms and solutions like Pulse – full vehicle development project management platform, simulation and testing solutions, Tata Neuron – AI/ML based simulation and testing solutions and JARVIS. Across the manufacturing domain, our Factory Magix solution offers a superlative degree of customization for Manufacturing Execution Systems and is adopted by a leading UK based premium OEM who have deployed it across multiple plant locations. In addition, our proprietary, Amp IOT – Manufacturing IOT platform enables multiple use cases for automotive OEMs and Tier 1s and is being adopted by several OEMs.

In the connected domain, our connected vehicle solution TRACE offers architectures supporting on-cloud deployment along with a wide range of telematics integrations. Last but not the least, we are one of the very few service providers who offer integrated customer engagement innovations like Power of 8 that helps OEMs manage the entire omni channel customer journey with an integrated offering of 8 solutions beginning with digital targeting of customer to after-sales experience thus curating incredible customer journeys.

We believe our end-to-end offerings and portfolio of solutions allows Tata Technologies to act as one-stop-for-all solutions for OEMs and differentiates us at the marketplace.

What is Tata Technologies value proposition in the infotainment area?

At present, the Infotainment plays a central role in creating a unique user experience for the customer. In addition, ever-dynamic customer expectations put additional pressure on OEMs to accommodate UI/UX modifications during later product development stages. In the infotainment space, leading OEMs have developed their proprietary infotainment platforms and solutions. The majority role which engineering service providers play is with Infotainment Integration & Validation.

At Tata Technologies, working with global OEMs across multiple infotainment platforms has allowed us to develop readily deployable frameworks for Integration & Validation. Our HIL (Hardware-in-loop) test-frameworks and test-automation, scripting & execution allows quickly building system-level test libraries reducing the lead times. Thus, we can accommodate better and deliver the infotainment solution integrations within the vehicle launch plans.

How important is Tata Technologies’ Mechatronics capabilities for EVs?

Everybody is aware that mobility innovations in this decade itself will surpass the innovations made over the last century. The automotive industry is undergoing a transformation at a pace not anticipated by many. E-mobility is the future and OEMs have begun adapting itself towards it, few early and few a bit delayed. In addition, the client of the future will seek a differentiated and virtual car buying experience unlike the brick & mortar dealership experience. Thus, winning in the marketplace would mean that OEMs would be required to create incredible end-to-end customer journeys for the buyer of the future apart from developing and developing products that are competitive and deliver better value.

Tata Technologies is uniquely positioned to help OEMs address this challenge as we have compelling offerings across the EV value chain, whether we talk about EV design, EV platform, Battery management systems, vehicle integration, EV manufacturing solutions and EV customer journey management.  Our award-winning solutions in Mechanical design of Electric vehicles are complemented by our Embedded capabilities and together we can help OEMs to integrate the hardware and software to deliver a better experience for customers. Tata Technologies have been pioneers in developing an Electric Vehicle Modular Platform – eVMPTM: that is helping OEMs globally reduce product development cycle time and cost through “One click scalability”, an industry first software controlled one click scalability of length, width, and height. Consequently, it helps automakers to reduce the overall product development time to 24 months and accelerated development time for model year / derivative programs.

Our 5R lightweighting methodology is helping OEMs optimize weight of vehicles without compromising safety thereby helping them develop Evs which are weight optimized that in turn impacts the Vehicle range. We collaborated with a leading Chinese OEM to develop a vehicle that achieved one of the lowest lightweight indexes, better than leading European OEMs with a 5-star safety rating. Now, speaking of the customer’s future experience, it is an imperative that virtual showrooms will be the primary sales channel. Thus, at Tata Technologies we have developed an end-to-end customer experience platform Power of 8, which is an integrated offering of 8 solutions beginning with digital targeting of customer to after-sales experience. The solution has witnessed a tremendous response from OEMs in Asian market where the pandemic accelerated the need of augmenting digital customer experience at a rapid pace.

What is Tata Technologies’ role in connected car tech and safety?

Safety has been around for long in the automotive industry with a few automakers making it the key USP of its vehicles. The vehicle safety parameters are set by the OEMs and engineering service providers are engaged for validation and integration of the safety technologies. OEMs have been leading the innovations in active and passive safety systems through integrating latest technologies like LiDAR & object detection sensors.

At Tata Technologies, we have a wide range of expertise working with OEMs across Europe and North America where safety standards are amongst the highest in the automotive industry. Working with one of our automotive clients in Sweden on its first hybrid-vehicle ADAS development and integration, it won OEM the award for its passenger and pedestrian safety. While safety has always been a key component of the automotive sector, the connected car has been the buzz word of the automotive industry over the last decade only. At TATA Technologies too, we have expanded our connected solution portfolio through our proprietary solution: TRACE. TRACE is a collection of mobility applications with solutions ranging from connected car mobile applications to fleet management.

TRACE solutions have been deployed by various leading OEMs in Asia and India which has helped OEMs deliver a truly connected experience to its customers. The OEMs have reported a 5-10% increase in its customer satisfaction surveys. In addition, we have developed proprietary solutions in V2X (Vehicle to Everything) and Over-the-Air domains which are being leveraged by multiple OEMs across Asia. Our association with Tata Group Ecosystem capabilities position us uniquely to deliver end-to-end automotive 5G solutions and turn V2X (Vehicle to everything) into reality.

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