Culture of collaboration: where driving forward begins
At BASF Automotive Solutions, you’ll often hear the phrase “driving forward together.” One would think this motto stands for the strong relationships BASF has built worldwide with OEMs, auto suppliers and more – and it does – but it goes much deeper than that. BASF’s strong relationships with customers is made possible by the culture of collaboration within BASF.
Some of BASF’s products, like the Four Way Conversion Plus (FWC+) catalyst, were put together by an interdisciplinary team with representatives from all business areas. BASF’s Virtual Car presents distinct divisions like plastics, fuels and lubricants to showcase the company’s broad portfolio of automotive solutions in a one-stop shop for OEMs, engineers, designers and developers. Creating automotive solutions for the entire industry requires all bases to be covered – and to cover all bases, teams must work together.
Different teams, custom solutions
You’d be hard pressed to find a company with a variety of products quite like BASF. From agriculture and chemicals to plastics and energy, BASF is creating chemistry in many key industries. With so many different products and solutions, expertise is a requirement in each subject, and BASF team members love leveraging each other’s knowledge to solve problems they couldn’t on their own.
Lucy Li, Head of Industry Management for BASF Automotive Asia, describes cross-team collaboration as one of her favorite parts of the job, and one of the most rewarding.
“I love being around people,” Li said. “Not only is it important for us to collaborate with industry players in supply chain and the governmental stakeholders, but also with each other. A recent example is our development of an engine cover for a manufacturer. My team collaborated with application engineers to give customer requests directly to them when designing this part. Without collaborating with the application engineering team, it’d have been impossible to meet all customer requests.”
Jeremy Vos, Business Development Manager for 3D Printing in Automotive and Aerospace, had a similar experience, where he was able to use the global perspective of BASF to his advantage and get the last bit of support his team needed.
“We were on the cusp of getting a BASF material into the supply chain of one of the world’s largest automakers but ran into a dead end during the certification process,” Vos said. “I reached out to our team in Europe for help crafting a new certification process because I knew that they had gone through something similar with another part. With their help, we were able to craft a certification process that got approved. Now, that very same material is used by the manufacturer worldwide.”
One common goal
At a company like BASF with such a wide variety of business areas, it can sometimes be difficult to ensure all team members are working towards the same goal. However, with a goal as important as creating chemistry for a sustainable future, BASF team members do all have a common focus. Donna Mosher, Technical Support Manager for Transportation Lubricants, is proud of BASF for keeping clean energy in mind long before it was at the forefront of conversations worldwide.
“Since the early 2000s, our transportation lubricants have been about improving the environment,” Mosher said. “When we first began, people doubted that our lubricant products could be more efficient, but we’ve shown over the years that they are. Commercial vehicles today that use BASF lubricants travel up to 750,000 miles before needing to be changed.”
BASF is also well-positioned to support the ongoing electric vehicle revolution, Lucy Li says.
“We innovate continuously to meet evolving automotive industry trends, like electrification, with BASF’s broad portfolio of solutions,” Li said. “As automotive manufacturers and battery cell producers have increased demand for battery materials, BASF has worked directly with OEMs and cell producers to be able to provide high-performing materials that power those batteries.”
BASF has also developed an in-house recycling system that ensures no materials go to waste.
“Most of our 3D printing materials are bio-based and all of them have top-of-the-line refresh rates,” Jeremy Vos said. “The in-house recycling option takes end of life parts, grinds them up and sends the materials back through a production workstream to be used again.”
This in-house recycling system is an example of BASF’s Circular Economy concept – sustainability requires more durable and more resource-efficient products and an increase in reuse, repair and recycling. As automakers juggle emissions regulations, shifting weight requirements and evolving mobility trends, BASF is working alongside customers and the full supply chain to create solutions that meet these performance requirements and protect the environment.
Curiosity and collaboration bring results to customers
According to Donna Mosher, a lot of the successful collaboration within BASF is a derivative of genuine curiosity in what fellow team members are working on.
“I like to use auto shows as a great example,” Mosher said. “You’ll oftentimes see fellow BASF team members checking out displays to see what projects everyone else has been working on. It allows us to use each other as resources – if a customer asks me a question about plastics, I know I can reach out to our plastics team for advice.”
For Jeremy Vos, collaboration across teams is imperative for success.
“There isn’t a day that goes by where the 3D printing team doesn’t talk with our design team,” Vos said. “By better understanding the design team’s goals, our 3D printing team can execute the ideas to their fullest potential.”
Attilio Siani, Senior Manager in R&D and Application for light-duty gasoline, finds it easy to collaborate amongst teams because everyone always keeps the same goal in mind: meeting customer needs.
“It is always best to show and discuss the big picture of any challenge we are going to face, and explain what the customer requested and why,” Siani said. “I think that BASF does a great job ensuring that even when business units work with each other, the customer remains our priority.”
When asked how they would describe BASF using only one word, the four business leaders responded in a variety of ways, but none quite like Attilio, who found a clever way around describing such a large company in just one word.
“One word to describe BASF? Let me try: Extremely-big-chemical-company-with-great-products-and-a-huge-potential-to-innovate.”
Innovation is accelerating the changes in the automotive industry, but global collaboration with customers, among suppliers and within BASF is needed to sustainably drive the industry forward.
To learn more about BASF’s chemistry driven solutions for mobility, click here.