The five challenges that Pittas outlined were:
1. Paying for Changing Technology - Financing heavy-duty technology changes and recovering technology costs on a timely basis has been recently highlighted by the credit crunch. "Vehicle assemblers more often look to the supplier community to help solve new design problems. The challenge for the supplier is to partner with customers and still produce an ROI that is acceptable to stakeholders," said Pittas.
2. Electrification of Vehicles - In response to demands for higher fuel economy, vehicle manufacturers are increasing the electrification of vehicles. "To get these high output alternators into high volume production and meet manufacturers' expectations for cost and durability is the challenge," said Pittas.
"We think traditional alternator designs can fill this demand up to about 300 amps or so. By the time we get to higher power demands, more than likely we will get into hybrid and other technology solutions to fill this demand," he said.
3. Expanding Technician Shortage - As technology continues to evolve, the need for more qualified technicians to work on the new products and diagnose fresh technologies at all steps in the supply chain (fleet, dealer and independent distributor) is critical.
"The burden of field training will rely on the supplier… to have service schools, traditional print and web based training packages. We must additionally offer training through vocational schools," said Pittas.
4. Qualified After-Sales Support - This is just as important as the technician shortage. "Manufacturers must provide its aftermarket customers with tools to help solve complicated problems with the right product to its customers," he said.
5. Globalization - 'Good old days' were simpler; with U.S. truck manufacturers supplied by U.S. components. Now it is global truck producers with globally sourced components.
The global economy demands global engineering and technology response, especially in fast-moving areas of product development such as emissions, powertrain, braking, and electrical platforms and system archiecture.