The Dräxlmaier Group supplies premium automobile manufacturers worldwide with complex wiring harness systems, central electrical and electronic components, exclusive interiors, and storage systems for electric mobility. The company covers the entire process chain, from the initial idea through the development and production process and up to precise in-sequence delivery of the products to the assembly lines of premium automobile manufacturers. Dräxlmaier develops pioneering wiring harness technology as well as electrical and electronic components, all directly in-house. These include multi-voltage and high-voltage wiring harness systems, battery management systems, and intelligent power distributors. Dräxlmaier is working on the future of emission-free mobility with its solution for low-voltage and high-voltage storage systems. As a market leader for interior systems in premium automobiles, the Dräxlmaier Group also supplies premium automobile manufacturers with ambient lighting, centre consoles, door panels and instrument panels, as well as complete door and cockpit modules.
The Group is an international automotive supplier with more than 60 sites in over 20 countries. Founded in Germany in 1958, the company employs about 70,000 employees throughout the world. In 2018, Dräxlmaier generated sales of 4.6 billion Euro. Customers of this member of the Top 100 Automotive Suppliers include Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, Porsche, and Volkswagen, as well as Californian automotive manufacturers.
Automotive Today talked to Dräxlmaier’s representatives in Romania to find out more about the company’s plans and what the challenges are it faces on the local market.
How would you describe the evolution of the Romanian automotive industry?
Paul Pătrașcu (Head of Human Resources South East Europe Dräxlmaier Group): On the Romanian market, Dräxlmaier Group has been present since 1993, and is currently one of the largest employers in the country. Later, the company expanded its activity. Currently, Dräxlmaier Group is present in five locations in Romania – in Brașov, Hunedoara, Pitesti, Satu Mare, and Timișoara, where together with the Romanian employees, we have created revolutionary products. Dräxlmaier Group provides premium car manufacturers around the world with complex cabling systems, as well as electrical and electronic components. As the market leader for premium vehicle interior systems, Dräxlmaier Group provides ambient lighting systems, centre consoles, door panels, and dashboards to car manufacturers.
Due to the modernization and evolution of the automotive industry in recent years, everything is changing rapidly and the tendency of developing our premium customers is obvious. The auto giants focus on the development of electric cars and on the development of autonomous driving technology. As a company that brings innovations, Dräxlmaier Group works on the future of emission-free mobility by offering solutions for low voltage and high voltage battery systems and identifies innovative solutions for all the special needs of its customers.
What are the development prospects of the automotive industry in the medium and long term?
Paul Pătrașcu: Romania is very important for the Dräxlmaier Group. At this moment, 15,000 people work in the five factories and development centres in our country, the number of employees of the group worldwide being 70,000 people. The auto industry is currently undergoing a major transformation process. The coming years will be a big challenge for both car manufacturers and car suppliers. Electromobility trends, connectivity, and autonomous driving are the engines of innovation today. The goal of Dräxlmaier Group is to be the leader of this innovation process in every business segment. We will transform our new products into high performance systems so we can apply them to the entire range of customers in areas such as E-mobility. Examples in this regard made by the Dräxlmaier Group are the electrical wiring systems of the future or the ambient lighting created by us.
What are your projects for R&D and innovation activities?
Daniela Cîrciuvoianu (Head of Harness Development Dräxlmaier Group Romania): Dräxlmaier Group is a market leader in many areas of the premium segment – with future-oriented products, technologies, and customers. Globally, Dräxlmaier Group has a team of R&D professionals who developed projects for electric cars. Electromobility is one of the most important visionary technologies in the automotive industry, and the company started creating the first prototypes for battery systems in 2009. In addition, many revolutionary products are being developed within the company for which there is market demand. Dräxlmaier is also working on the future of emission-free mobility and innovates in low-voltage and high-voltage storage systems. Also, at Dräxlmaier Pitești, there is a division made up of dozens of specialists, where prototypes of unique wiring systems are developed, which are then produced in series in different locations around the world.
Carmen Toader (Head of Research & Development Interior Dräxlmaier Group Romania): Dräxlmaier Brașov has a Development Department where Romanian specialists carry out innovative projects in the Interior segment for the most important customers in the automotive industry, in collaboration with an international team. Our colleagues in Brasov are facing many challenges in the coming years, and the team will continue to develop. Our specialists are now working on many projects, and the know-how and experience gained in recent years are essential in developing top components for the cars of the future. The fact that Brașov has been developing various projects for many years for many customers in the automotive industry implies responsibility, but also the guarantee that quality products are made in Brașov, respecting the client’s requirements.
What is the investment plan for the current year, respectively in the medium and long term?
Paul Pătrașcu: Dräxlmaier Group constantly invests in all its factories to produce the most modern products for our customers. Romania will continue to be an important pillar of the Dräxlmaier Group. One of the company’s goals is to make sure we are heading for a future-oriented structure. In order to produce the necessary auto components for the modern automotive industry Dräxlmaier develops automated and advanced technology production units. But the know-how about the production of electronic and interior products is the asset of our employees, who have experience and are able to adapt and work on new projects.
What are your solutions for the workforce crisis in Romania?
Paul Pătrașcu: The Romanian labour market is extremely dynamic. We are always looking for specialists, but also for passionate young people, eager to learn, who want to build a career in the automotive industry. We develop interesting projects, we have new production lines, where we use state-of-the-art technology with which we produce vital components for the cars of the future. Many young people are interested in the opportunity for a job in Dräxlmaier. The company is constantly involved in developing students’ practical skills. Dräxlmaier Group offers internship programs, but financially supports masters programs, both at the Western University of Timisoara and at the Transilvania University of Brasov. At the same time, we have many employees who have been with Dräxlmaier Group for over 15 years, because they have found a work environment where they feel appreciated and can grow.
What are the specialists you are looking for on the local market?
Gabriela Tarna (Head of Recruitment Dräxlmaier Group Romania): Dräxlmaier needs specialists in various fields, as the industry is developing rapidly. The specialists from the Human Resources and Recruitment departments are constantly doing detailed analyses of the labour market. The company is interested in attracting in the Production team or in the research and design divisions, specialists both engineers working in the IT departments, operators, or assemblers’ subassemblies, located on the production lines. An essential condition is for new employees to be professional, and if they are early in their career, they must be willing to learn and evolve. The challenges in this area are numerous, but Dräxlmaier Group offers development opportunities. We encouraged talented people in the company to develop their potential. They benefit from trainings, exchanges of experience in various locations around the world and thus have the opportunity to work in international teams and leave their mark on the auto industry.
To what extent is dual education a solution to the workforce problem?
Paul Pătrașcu: Dräxlmaier Group Romania has been involved in the development of the vocational school program since 2012, with the first initiative of its kind in Romania. We have practice workshops in all factories in the country where students can practice. The purpose of the company is to provide students studying with Dräxlmaier the opportunity to benefit from programs through which they will be able to have all the knowledge and skills to secure a career upon graduation. Romania was the first country after Germany in which we introduced this education system, and then taking over the successful model developed here, Dräxlmaier extended the system to many other countries. Over the years, the company has implemented this program in all the cities in which it operates and has established strong partnerships with schools and local communities. In the case of faculties with technical profile, Dräxlmaier noticed that there is an increasing need to adapt the program to the evolutions existing in the automotive industry.
(From the print edition)