Bellows? Back to the Garage!


Work more efficiently, costs minimization - sounds like a classic win-win. The winning formula here goes as follows - Back to the Garage. Daniel Longhino, Procurement Trucks & Buses buyer, and Tanja Schmidt, project manager for Engine Projects, explain what this means exactly.

Ms. Schmidt, Mr. Longhino: Thank you for your time. In our previous conversation you stated that, new product ideas could be developed for our suppliers through the Back to the Garage initiative. What does this mean?

Daniel Longhino: Basically it is a matter of integrating existing suppliers into the process optimization and giving them an incentive to drive forward an optimization of their product on their own initiative. Our suppliers possess so much know-how and innovative drive. With Back to the Garage, we would like to provide space for this.


Tanja Schmidt: And if we wish to improve our Trucks and Busses, we need one thing: New ideas! That’s what we wanted to achieve with Back to the Garage and have succeeded. We have taken our suppliers to the garage, quite literally, and were able to develop a total of 20 ideas together. Six ideas are already in the implementation process, while we are currently working together on implementing the remaining ideas. But everyone’s goal is to make our vehicles even better. An excellent example of this is the idea “As many bellows as it takes” from our supplier Witzenmann, who created an idea concept for one of his components on the bellows. By the way: a bellows is an annular cylinder made of metal to compensate for movements.


Sounds promising. What was the process?

Daniel Longhino: Among other things, Witzenmann supplies exhaust manifold end pieces for heavy and medium-duty trucks/engines. These are excellent products. Quality has always been excellent- and that has been the case for many years. It was our goal develop the product further together and take it to the next level. That’s what we set out to do. And that’s what we’ve achieved: The workshop enabled us to optimize the product through material and technology changes. And in procurement we still save a good six-digit amount. Witzenmann’s idea convinced us of the innovative power of the supplier.


So there’s an efficiency concept behind Back to the Garage?

Tanja Schmidt: It’s more of a methodical approach. So far, we have mostly focused on a classic cross-functional idea generation. Taking into account new agile processes or design thinking, the customer or partner is asked. In our case, the supplier. What if the supplier has ideas that we can’t see because the framework conditions are too tight? We no longer wanted this and decided to relax the entire process for the supplier.


How exactly did you do that?

Daniel Longhino: The process consisted of two parts: The first was the workshop, in which we prepared the suppliers intensively for their task and made the common goal clear to them. After the workshop, in close coordination with our cross-functional team the suppliers had the task of generating three ideas on how they could improve their products and include them in the supplier pitch. The supplier pitch was only about the results. Our colleagues from the FC Think! Tank department helped us with the preparation and implementation. This enabled us to incorporate a start-up spirit into our project. At the same time, we have taken a clear line. Each pitch participant had exactly 10 minutes to convince the jury of his ideas.

With the Virtual-Reality glasses, everything in the so-called holodeck is scrutinized very closely

A lot of effort for the supplier?

Tanja Schmidt: But it’s worth it! This intensive cooperation provides the supplier with the methodical tools to generate new ideas himself. In our opinion, our support in the area of design thinking, but also our cooperation with our cross-functional team from various areas, represents an enormous added value.


And what’s next?

Daniel Longhino: In 2019 we will again invite innovative suppliers to our garage and give you the opportunity to prove your innovative power.  We are very much looking forward to the intensive exchange with our suppliers.

Witzenmann´s Winning Team. Jochen Keinath (left), Richard Kimmerle (middle), Jörg Hornung (right).

The Back to the Garage approach gave suppliers detailed insights into Daimler methods and workshops. The differences between the components were discussed directly with the Daimler colleagues in the Benchmark room and the first starting points for new ideas were found.

Jochen Keinath, Key Account Manager Daimler commercial vehicles, Witzenmann

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Oct 04, 2018
Fabian Marzinzik