Autonomous driving, electrification, diverse mobility and connectivity are redefining driver experiences and expectations – Much like smartphones and computers, it will likely come with software, technological advances and upgrades.
Tier 1 suppliers are adapting fast to this new generation of vehicle or mobility purchasers in order to retain or gain market share in a new era where software has become as important – if not more so – than the traditional powertrain hardware, in the mind of the customer. Tunisian company OneTech is one of the leaders in partnering with Tier 1 suppliers to support them adapt and adjust their strategies as the digital revolution disrupts traditional automotive business models. With 25 years’ experience in the automotive industry and employing 4,500 people, OneTech Group delivers to more than 50 countries across the world.
The company is vertically integrated, from the design of components and development of software through to component manufacture. OneTech Group produces printed circuit boards, electronics, plastics, connectors and wire and harnesses, and complete mechatronic modules. Based in Tunisia and Morocco, OneTech Group companies includes, Fuba, TTE International, Techniplast, EleOneTech, OneTech MA, SofiaTech, Tunisie Cables. Sofia Technologies, a software development and product engineering company with 140 engineers based in Tunisia and France, is the most recent addition to the group.
A few years ago, the European Investment Bank (EIB), granted OneTech a EUR 21 million finance line to help the company strengthen its cable and mechatronic product manufacturing capacity and to ensure its external and internal growth. OneTech used the funds to boost its investment in research, development and innovation in these fields.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Hedi Sellami, Chief Executive Officer, OneTech Group, how the company is meeting the growing demand for autonomous and connected car technologies.
Sellami: Autonomous and connected car technologies are definitely redefining the automotive market, and consequently the strategies of automakers and their suppliers. Managing those disruptive technologies will require skills in innovation and complex mechatronic modules.
We are able to be part of this digital evolution and to meet the needs of our clients because the OneTech group is made up of agile people with agile thinking with quick react to their environment changes. Our acquisition of Sofia Technologies allows us to integrate software and design in order to complete the solution we propose to our clients as a full-fledged outsourcer.
We’ve always believed that success is driven by the voice of customers, so we had to upgrade our technologies, strengthen our skills in design and embedded software development to meet this growing demand. Besides, we are a learning company with a continuous improvement approach. We deeply believe in our human resources. They are motivated teams, combining knowhow and passion for smart manufacturing.
We are moving from a reactive approach to a predictive one and continuously learning how to pass from reworked quality to managed quality; We know that experience needs to be supported by continuous training so we have developed an internal training center in partnership with IFC, and launched OneTech university, in 2015, an internal academy offering multiple training modules on soft skills, management, leadership and technical training.
The bottom line is that OneTech group, through its mechatronics, cables and hardware and software divisions, is keeping pace with automotive trends in order to live up to our customers’ expectations.
AI: What technologies does OneTech and its group companies have for electric and hybrid vehicles?
Sellami: Three years ago, we started investing in technology for electric and hybrid cars. We are already supplying components for mass production of EV applications. For instance, we have developed electronic power applications, high voltage wire and specific cable harnesses used in the new 100% electric power trains. Also, we have developed industrial processes in a clean environment to be able to deliver components for this type of car.
In addition, we are working on technical plastic parts for the housing of the electronic map for electric cars on behalf of our customers. Another co-design project for electric car beam optimization is coming up soon after the recent nomination of the group on several projects.
AI: How does your company’s R&D compare with that emerging from developed countries and how do you manage to bridge the gap?
Sellami: As far as we are concerned, there is no gap! The group invests continually in research and development. Our R&D company Sofia Tech employs 140 engineers in design and embedded software in both France and Tunisia. Our expertise in hardware and software development is at the same level as developed countries. OneTech works in a global context. It delivers to USA, Western Europe and EST, China… so we are in continuous competition with suppliers all over the world
AI: How did OneTech get major automotive Tier 1 suppliers from Europe and the USA onboard?
Sellami: OneTech offers a genuine alternative to the Asian sources, thanks to our high-quality standards and geographic proximity. Indeed, Tunisia is only two hours flight and three days delivery door to door to major European cities, which allows a high flexibility level at best cost. Our expertise in development, industrialization and manufacturing is internationally recognized. Thanks to the diversity of our businesses, we also offer a complete solution allowing us to be considered as an integrator with high added value. And the most important factor is that we maintain great relationships with our clients that we consider to be our partners.
Mastering quality, cost, delivery and innovation is the key to success.
AI: How did your technological edge win over these customers? Please give examples.
Sellami: Thanks to our long-term partnerships with our customers, OneTech group has been able to develop and co-design new technologies. OneTech relies on a world-renowned office to draw up its strategic plan. Each year in its action plan a technological roadmap makes it possible to plan the investments to be made to follow the technical evolution. This road map is perfectly aligned with the technological needs and requirements of our customers
OneTech has the cutting-edge technology on both manufacturing equipment, product and process design (Lean):
- SMD lines equipped by full traceability and 3D optical controls
- Electronic Kanban / MES (supervision)
- Laboratories and testing
- Smartphone application for connected cars (ChargeSpotFinder, Enjoy drive)
- Customized test equipment design.
AI: What quality control standards does OneTech and its group companies have to help meet the requirements of its customers?
Sellami: We believe that a robust quality system is the key to success. We operate in a very competitive environment with high standard expectations. A strong management system is a must for controlling the activity and ensure reliability and competitiveness. The Management System at OneTech Group and its companies meets the highest industry standards (IATF 16949, ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, OHSAS 18001).
We have multiple reliability testing laboratories and a strict environmental policy to ensure the improvement of the treatment and external management of our solid residues, the improvement of the treatment and control of our fluids waste, the prevention from pollution generated by our present or future activities.
Last, but not least, we are in compliance with the conduct rules required by our customers.
AI: How did the EIB financing help your group expand R&D and manufacturing? What are your plans for further expansion?
Sellami: The EIB is a partner which has believed in the OneTech Group’s potential. It has allowed an important financial support for our development strategy. The group keeps investing in new manufacturing equipment and R&D. Today, we have a production facility in Morocco and R&D subsidiary in France. We have a solid strategic plan to continue our development both in Africa and in Europe.
In conclusion, what I want to say is that digitization, automation, big data and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing the user’s experience and consequently the strategies of car manufacturers and industrial suppliers. Likewise, OneTech Group continues to meet the challenges of innovation by always keeping its customers at the heart of its development strategy.