Employee creativity is a key factor in Group innovation. Fiat Group promotes in-company projects aimed at collecting suggestions and ideas for product and process improvement.
In 2013, the World Class Manufacturing method testified to employee commitment, producing 1.3 million suggestions, an increase of 8% over 2012. The best suggestions were implemented and the project owners were recognized for their contributions.
For example, in 2012, the EMEA region launched the iPropose initiative, which is designed to encourage employees to propose ideas on ways to reduce costs and increase competitiveness. In 2013, the initiative involved some 8,400 employees who submitted a total of 8,300 proposals. Adoption of the best suggestions led to approximately €17.3 million in cost savings.
Similarly, in the NAFTA region, the internal innovation program is implemented by the Innovation Idea Submission Database, a submission suggestion portal for employees. In 2013, Chrysler Group employees submitted over 200 proposals. The Innovation Space in Auburn Hills held more than 200 training and workshop activities on topics such as strategy development, product features and creative problem solving. In 2013, more than 1,000 employees participated in these workshops.
Universities and research centers
Fiat Group engages in long-standing collaborations with universities and research centers through research groups and joint projects. These close ties with the academic world are instrumental to encouraging creative thinking and rewarding talent in young people. Collaboration is promoted in many different ways by the individual companies and across the Group.
Fiat Group supports the Italian Automotive Technical Association (ATA) which is committed to promoting technical culture and training among young engineers. The goals of the organization are to:
- improve technical know-how in the automotive sector
- promote innovative development through collaboration between research and academic institutions and industry
- increase the transfer of technological know-how among large, medium and small companies.
The collaboration in the EMEA region with Politecnico di Torino (Italy) and the University of Windsor (Canada) continues to demonstrate Fiat Group’s commitment.
As part of the program with Turin Polytechnic and in collaboration with ATA and CRF, three new voluntary courses were launched in 2013 focused on environmental sustainability and certain aspects of emissions reduction. Organized as Voluntary Educational Programs and Summer Schools for Automotive Engineering students, these courses provided access to the latest information from professionals working directly in the field.
The Group has established partnerships with several government entities, universities and other organizations to develop electric technologies.
Chrysler Group has entered a 5-year, $18.2 million partnership with McMaster University, a public research university in Hamilton (Canada), with funding support from the Canadian government, to develop next-generation, energy-efficient, high-performance electrified powertrains and powertrain components. Work will be centered at McMaster University, where 20 engineers from Chrysler Group’s Global Electrified Powertrain Group and seven McMaster research engineers will team with 16 faculty members and 80 graduate and undergraduate engineering students. The partners will also use Chrysler Group laboratories and test vehicles.
To advance Chrysler Group’s electrification strategy, the partnership will develop multiple prototypes of critical components, platforms and tools that will strengthen the company’s future product lines. Six facets of vehicle electrification will be explored: electrified powertrain architecture and optimization, power electronics, electric machines, motor control, energy management system and embedded software. The project consists of three phases, each building on the achievements of the previous one. The final phase is scheduled to conclude in March, 2018.
In Europe, the Group has been active for many years in the support of policy and priority definition related to automotive innovation programs. During 2013, Centro Ricerche Fiat (CRF) participated in 23 European project proposals, totaling more than 170 projects launched since the start of the Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013) with a global network of approximately 1,800 partners. CRF is also involved in several stakeholder organizations that support the European Commission with the mission to define priorities and guidelines on mobility research
European research organizations in which CRF is actively involved
|ERTRAC: Road transport|
|EPoSS: Smart system integration|
|EuMaT: Advanced engineering materials and technologies|
|MANUFUTURE: Manufacturing and production processes|
|Green Cars Initiative|
|Factories of the Future|
|Research and development
|EUCAR: European Council for Automotive R&D|
|ERTICO-ITS Europe: network of Intelligent Transport Systems and Services|
|EIT ICT Labs: Knowledge & Information Community on ICT established
by the European Institution of Innovation & Technology