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Altran expands to Detroit, brings passive safety solutions to U.S.


This feature is courtesy of Driven, the story of how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.

Pedestrian passive safety is a concept that means little to the average American, yet it’s been part of vehicle safety development in Europe for nearly a decade.

Altran, the largest global, multi-industry engineering, research, and development powerhouse, with $3 billion in revenue and 45,000 employees in 20 countries--but relative newcomer to the Detroit region--has deep expertise in pedestrian passive safety. Altran’s skilled workforce has been testing pedestrian passive safety solutions, as well as airbags and vehicle interiors, in its World Class Passive Safety Center in Wixom since opening in November, 2107. The center joins others of its kind operated by Altran in Austria, Germany, Canada, and France.

Known as active bonnet or active hood, these passive safety systems work to decrease injury to pedestrians in the case of impact, and in some cases, the need for these systems can drive the design of the vehicle. Manufacturers that export vehicles to Europe know all about active bonnet systems, but it’s just a matter of time before domestic vehicle models will be required to incorporate this type of safety technology, says Sebastian Wipfler, manager of the Altran’s World Class Center in Wixom.

“If you are driving a car, you can work to prevent an accident, but if there is an accident, the car has to be developed to give the pedestrian the highest chance to survive,” says Wipfler. European regulations require testing to prove that vehicles will do minimal damage to pedestrians on impact.

Here in the U.S., there were 5,376 pedestrian fatalities in 2015, an increase from the previous year.

“The automotive industry is continually working to make cars safer, and one of the critical elements of making a car driverless is managing the safety,” says Mohan Raju, Altran head of automotive North America."We all work to prevent collision using active safety, or maneuvering the car using technology, and this is essentially the work going on in the autonomous vehicle space.”

Until driverless vehicles are mainstream in the market, passive safety measures that minimize or eliminate injury to pedestrians and passengers are an important part of future automotive safety regulations in the U.S.

“Europe is ahead of the U.S. in passive safety, particularly in pedestrian safety,” Raju says.

Expanding to the U.S.

While Altran could have located its center in several locations here in the U.S., the Detroit region’s dense population of vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, robust global automotive leadership, and automotive engineering talent made Michigan the most attractive and smartest choice.

Altran clients, including OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, were seeking a local presence of expertise, and Altran recognized the market opportunity. The scouting process began in 2016, when the head of the Altran World Class Center in Graz, Austria met informally with members of the Destination Detroit team of the Detroit Regional Chamber, and asked some smart questions.

Detroit’s automotive reputation solidified Altran’s decision quickly. While it may make sense for startups to consider the west coast, every automotive resource has a presence in the Detroit region.

“Where is the best place to be for automotive? You always end up in the Detroit area,” says Wipfler. “Even west coast companies, most of them now have offices here. The Tier 1s are here. Everyone needs to be present in the Detroit area. That’s what we saw.”

When Altran was ready to focus in and select a location for its testing facility, it returned to the connection it had made with the Destination Detroit team.

“From our conversations, we learned Detroit is where they wanted to be. For automotive engineering and R&D, this is the hub, and the customers they were looking for and the leadership in the auto industry are all here,” says Will Butler, business development representative with the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Butler and his team took a deep dive and learned that Altran needed a site on a moderate parcel of land that could accommodate a 500-foot straight track for testing, and be enclosed by fencing to maintain client confidentiality. They researched dozens of locations, and brought on board a real estate expert to find just the right building, in an appropriate location, that could accommodate customization on a tight schedule.

“It was a little bit like a puzzle, and certainly an interesting challenge,” says Butler. “As economic developers, we want projects to be easy and quick, and we worked hard to help Altran find just what they needed. Speed to market is the name of the game.”

Support on the ground

Assuming the quarterback role, the Destination Detroit team kept the project on track and moving forward by tapping into a deep network of experts, including county and city departments that responded quickly and worked to provide approval for the site’s specific needs.

Ultimately, Altran’s successful expansion into the Detroit region--and into the United States-- was a collaborative effort between Destination Detroit, Oakland County, and the city of Wixom. Destination Detroit’s long standing experience in the needs of advanced automotive industries helped Altran meet its goals for growth.

“The people at Destination Detroit were very helpful all along,” says Raju. “Once we chose our building, it needed special approvals from the city of Wixom to be built to our needs, and the Detroit Regional Chamber helped us coordinate with the city to get the approvals.”

Now In operation with about eight employees in Wixom, Altran plans to grow to a staff of 25 within a couple of years.

“Altran has a very large global presence, but we are relatively new to the North American market. For us to get entry into this region as a service provider to any of the OEMs or Tier1s, we have to be ahead of the game, and better at something that not many other providers can offer,” says Raju. “One of our entry strategies was to bring in the World Class Center for Passive Safety in Detroit, and expand into offering each OEM all the other services we can provide. We have some of the best facilities in Europe, and this is a footprint for us to expand our offerings to the North American market.”

With mobility as a key area of expertise, Altran is poised to provide a diverse portfolio of services to its clients from its World Class Center in Wixom.

“We are working to focus on a combination of local delivery with Austrian expertise and Indian engineering capability to provide cost effective, highly skilled solutions in the area of passive safety to clients in the Detroit area, and across the U.S. in general," Raju says.

“Our strategy is to enter with a high level of expertise, drive cost efficiency, and engage for the long term.”

Visit Driven and learn how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.
 

Esys Automation breaks ground on new building

Esys Automation began a new chapter in its history this week by breaking ground on a new building located on Brown Rd., just east of Joslyn Rd. in Auburn Hills, MI. A groundbreaking ceremony was held, which included a majority of the Esys team and representatives from the developer JB Donaldson, the State of Michigan, Oakland County and the City of Auburn Hills.

“We are very pleased to be able to expand and stay in our home city of Auburn Hills,” said Dave Valentine, president of Esys Automation. “A very special thanks to the City of Auburn Hills, Oakland County and the State of Michigan for supporting our efforts and providing significant incentives to remain here.”

The new 125,000  square-foot facility will allow Esys to consolidate its current two Auburn Hills locations into one space. The new facility will have 40,000 square-feet of office space and 85,000 square-feet of shop space, allowing Esys to continue its significant growth. Construction is set to complete late fall 2018.

About Esys Automation 
Esys Automation is a leading full-service automation solutions provider to the automotive industry. Esys provides automation design, simulation, and machine building, including advanced robotic systems and industry-specific software solutions. Esys specializes in vehicle assembly applications in areas such as press, powertrain, plastics, body assembly, paint, sealer, final assembly, and tire & wheel. Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Esys Automation operates globally. Learn more about Esys Automation at esysautomation.com.

Israeli manufacturer opens first U.S. office in Troy's Automation Alley

Excerpt

Eilor Magnetic Cores, an Israeli company that manufactures blocks and tape-wound magnetic cores, has opened its first location in the United States in Troy.

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Royal Oak-based Vectorform and Microsoft Partner to expand HoloLens technology for automotive design

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Royal Oak’s Vectorform, a digital product and experiences company with capabilities in mixed reality design and engineering, announced a collaboration with Microsoft Corp. to innovate vehicle design and the prototyping processes for the automotive industry.

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Metro Detroit cities prepare for autonomous vehicles with smart infrastructure

Last spring, Terry Croad started attending quarterly meetings of the Michigan Connected and Automated Vehicle Working Group. As Southfield’s director of planning, he hoped to stay abreast of the latest technology advancements as well as regulatory, financial, security, and other issues tied to the rapidly advancing ecosystem of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Often, he’d be the only planner in a room full of engineers, computer programmers, transportation experts, economic development leaders, and security and defense officials.

Southfield is getting a head start on the inevitable infrastructure changes mobility will require. “We’re already starting to tweak a little bit our land-use pattern and our regulation, and I think as this becomes more and more integrated into our daily lives, it’s going to have a significant impact on the way we park and use cars,” Croad says.

All Metro Detroit cities could look a lot different in the not-so-distant future thanks to the advent of autonomous vehicles and innovative mobility services.

Features we now take for granted, like 10- to 12-foot-wide driving lanes and expansive parking lots, could be rendered unnecessary in areas where people use connected, driverless cars, or ride-sharing platforms to get from point A to point B.

That’s why it’s crucial for local government officials to stay on top of the latest developments in connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology and adjust their infrastructure and land-use plans accordingly, says Croad.

Experts estimate that autonomous vehicles will be commonplace within 15 to 20 years. “As a [planning] profession, we need to be embracing this earlier than later ... The earlier we start talking about it and getting our elected officials at least aware that this is coming, better off we’re all going to be,” he says.

Southfield even included a section on “innovative transportation opportunities” in the master plan it updated in 2016. It stressed the need to be proactive to understand the impacts of such advancements so it could better plan and invest for the future.

That kind of awareness is one of the biggest things communities can do to prepare for CAVs, says Valerie Sathe Brugeman, senior project manager at the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research. Brugeman recently co-authored a “Future Cities” report commissioned by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) on the potential benefits and challenges of CAV technology to communities.

At this point she hasn’t seen Michigan communities drastically change their roads, intersections or pedestrian walkways, but she said big changes could be needed as more people use autonomous or shared vehicles.

Intelligent use of space

Since CAVs should be able to stay in their lanes better than vehicles with drivers, roads of the future could have narrower lanes, allowing more space for pedestrian paths, drop-off lanes or other uses. There’s a possibility these technologies could result in fewer vehicles on the road, meaning fewer lanes would be needed. Or it could have the opposite effect, and result in increased vehicle miles traveled with more people opting to commute further to work or using autonomous cars that drive around with no occupants after drop-offs, Brugeman says.

Parking needs also are expected to change. A driverless car could drop passengers off at their destination and then either park itself off-site, or continue driving to pick up different passengers. That would reduce the need for parking spots in prime locations as well as shrink individual parking space sizes. Autonomous vehicles can park closer together if there are no passengers who need to open doors.

As cities build new parking structures, they should consider making them retrofittable so they could be transformed for office space or recreational use as parking needs decrease, says Brugeman. Communities also could change zoning regulations to dictate the maximum number of parking spots instead of minimum number of spots for particular developments.
Southfield recently conducted an overhaul of its parking standards to take these trends into consideration. Croad wants to reduce the parking ratios required for certain land uses and shrink the space between aisles.

Future planning for Michigan cities

While Southfield is considered ahead of the pack in acknowledging the potential impacts of CAVs and other mobility advancements, it’s not the only Metro Detroit community taking action. Last year the City of Detroit created the Office of Mobility Innovation and named Mark de la Vergne its chief.

“The fact that they now have a chief of mobility innovation is telling of the value they place on the topic and the technologies surrounding it,” Brugeman says.

Detroit recently won a nearly $2.2 million federal grant to deploy vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication and detection technologies at intersections in high-traffic areas in Southwest Detroit, the Riverfront, Corktown, and the Livernois-McNichols corridor. De la Vergne says the connected corridors should improve traffic safety and reduce emergency response times.

The grant will be a jumping off point to understand how and if the city could scale the technology, and what kind of infrastructure it would require.

“Knowing technology is changing a lot, I think that’s the challenge we all face, but at the same time, we want to be able to start getting some of this stuff in the ground so that we can start learning,” de la Vergne says.

Michigan is a national leader when it comes to developing, testing and promoting CAV technology. There are at least 115 dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) roadside units installed throughout the state for vehicle and infrastructure connectivity, according to the Future Cities report. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is partnering with local and state entities to work on several CAV projects, such as allowing transit signal priority to SMART buses in Macomb County with the goal of improving efficiency and reliability.

“We have all these physical assets here that really make this area unique to other parts of the country,” Brugeman says, noting that one of Michigan’s biggest advantages is the collaboration between MDOT and the MEDC in concert with the auto industry, universities and other entities.

“They recognize the need to remain a leader, because there are a lot of other communities that are vying for a leadership position in this race for CAVs,” she says.
 

Indiana-based AM General opens Technology and Engineering Center in Auburn Hills

Excerpt

South Bend, Indiana-based global mobility solutions provider AM General announced it has moved into a new Technology and Engineering Center in Auburn Hills. The facility houses engineering, product planning, and prototyping departments along with business development, U.S. defense, and strategic marketing functions.

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Continental in Auburn Hills develops control element for automated driving

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As autonomous and connected vehicles move closer to commercialization, Auburn Hills-based global automotive supplier Continental announced The Smart Control, an input device that is transparently and intuitively designed to aid the driver’s transition from operator to user of automated driving functions.

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Medical Main Street to debut expanded supply chain directory

Medical Main Street has doubled the size of its medical device directory to help global manufacturers find suppliers in Oakland County and Michigan.

The 50-page Michigan Medical Device Manufacturers Directory will be distributed to attendees at the Medical Main Street annual meeting and networking event Nov. 3 at Oakland Community College’s Highland Lake Campus student center.

“We make things here: cars, products for the defense industry and a range of consumer products,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “The infrastructure to support that manufacturing and the supply chain is all here. If you’re in the medical device industry, you need to be here designing and making those products. We can help you do that.”

The free directory will also be made available Nov. 3 online at MedicalMainStreet.com. It includes an alphabetical listing of 136 companies, with websites for each company. Sixty of the companies have locations in Oakland County. County staff can connect interested people directly to those companies. It has easy-to-read charts that identify companies by manufacturing processes such as injection molding, machining, engineering or precision cutting. It follows the inaugural directory that was created seven years ago. It was compiled with research done by the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center and is the only directory of its kind in the state, said Irene Spanos, the county’s director of economic development.

The event will be held at OCC’s Highland Lakes Campus is at 7350 Cooley Lake Road in Waterford and runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon. There is no charge to attend but registration is required at MedicalMainStreet.com. A panel will discuss “Insights into the Health Care/Life Science Ecosystem.”

Medical Main Street is an alliance of world-class hospitals and health systems, universities, medical device, biopharma companies and some of the country’s leading medical professionals creating a global center of innovation in health care, research and development, education and commercialization in the life science industry.

Thousands of jobs, billions of investment headed for Pontiac, developers say

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Pontiac's leaders say the city is on the verge of making major strides toward a comeback as a major economic hub in Metro Detroit.

The city's resurgence, however, won't be based on an over reliance on auto manufacturing this time, and instead supported by a series of developments and corporate moves diversifying its economy.

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Bluewater in Southfield expands to provide exhibition development

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Southfield-based technology experience company Bluewater has announced the formation of Bluewater Studio, the company’s new environments and exhibition arm. Bluewater Studio will provide clients with an integrated approach to their strategy, creative, development, and production of creative cultural experiences and spaces.

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Michigan ranked second for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness

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An Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness Index compiled by global professional services network PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) ranked Michigan second nationwide behind Georgia based on a weighted score of category and subcategory rankings including labor, infrastructure, industry, economy, cost, tax policy, and geopolitical risk. Rising six rankings after falling to eighth place last year, Michigan’s improvement was attributed to the state’s strong performance in the economy, infrastructure, and cost categories.

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Stefanini announces office relocation in Southfield and opens its first innovation center in U.S.

Stefanini, a $1B global IT provider, moved its corporate office in Southfield to a new address: an open-space concept which is more aligned with Stefanini’s values.  The new office reflectsStefanini’s collaborative process and promotes open communication among different departments. In addition to being the headquarters for Stefanini North America and Asia-Pacific, the new Southfield office also boasts the first Innovation Center in the U.S. 

According to Spencer Gracias, CEO of Stefanini North America and Asia-Pacific, the inspiration for the new office was based on making innovation a priority. The company designed an open-space concept with furniture, lights and colors specifically chosen to stimulate creativity, communication and the exchange of new ideasthrough design thinking methodology. “We believe that investing in a more creative and innovative atmosphere is crucial to the environment,” said Mr. Gracias.

First Innovation Center in the U.S.
The innovative culture will be reinforced within the Global Innovation Center, which is located in the same facility. The Global Innovation Centers are part of a worldwide Stefanini initiative that has enabled the company the ability to embrace emerging technologies and industry standards using design thinking methodology. “Through the Innovation Centers, located inBrazil, Romania, Singapore and, now, in the United States, Stefanini is aiming to create value for its customers that earns their lifetime loyalty,” said Mr. Gracias.

In addition to benefiting employees, the new office will reinforce innovation within the community and embrace the company’s partners. “As a result, Stefanini is positioned strongly as a company that views innovation as a priority, enjoying all the benefits of new trends and providing solutions aligned with the specific business needs of its clients,” affirmed Mr. Gracias.
 
The new Stefanini Southfield office address is:
27100 West Eleven Mile Road
Southfield, MI 48034
All of Stefanini’s phone numbers and fax numbers will remain the same. 
_______________________________________________________________________
About Stefanini North America
For nearly two decades in the United States, Stefanini has been helping midsize, large and global enterprises increase the efficiency of their IT operations while also leveraging information technology to power their businesses. Our offers include efficient, cost-reducing and effective services (IT infrastructure outsourcing, end-user computing outsourcing, application management services and mainframe modernization). In addition, we offer business-empowering services (mobility, analytics, big data consulting, SAP consulting, SharePoint, portals and collaboration services).  

About Stefanini 
Created in 1987, Stefanini is a $1B global IT provider of business solutions with locations in 39 countries across the Americas, Europe, Australia and Asia. With more than 22,000 employees, Stefanini provides onshore, offshore and nearshore IT services, including application development services, IT infrastructure outsourcing (help desk support and desktop services), systems integration, consulting and strategic staffing to Fortune 1000 enterprises around the world. The corporate global headquarters is located in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with the European headquarters in Brussels and the North American headquarters in metropolitan Detroit.

Further information is available on the company’s website, www.stefanini.com.

BLM Group USA opens headquarters and tech center in Novi

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BLM Group USA, a global manufacturer of tube and sheet metal processing equipment, today announced the opening of its new headquarters in Novi. The 75,000-square-foot facility features a 35,000-square-foot showroom and provides greater access for customers to explore BLM’s products, services, and technologies.

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Autoneum opens new North American headquarters and technical center in Novi

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Novi-based acoustical consultant Autoneum today announced the opening of its new North American headquarters in Novi. The new Autoneum facility brings together research and development activities in the North American market with the management of the region’s business group.

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MadDog Technology transforming Pontiac into a hub for software development

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Tech248 Director Greg Doyle interviews Mark Hillman, co-founder of MadDog Technology, one of the members of a group that represents 1000 companies. MadDog is in the historic Riker Building in downtown Pontiac, creating a world-class tech space, Hillman said. MadDog incubates and invests in software companies, some eight and counting. Former Compuware co-founder Peter Karmanos is Hillman’s partner – in case you wondered where he went after he left Compuware. MadDog also has raised a venture capital fund.

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175 Emerging Sectors Articles | Page: | Show All
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