Lamborghini, a benchmark in the world of supercars, manufactures 2,500 cars a year which are sold in more than 50 countries. Since its foundation the company has been based in Sant’Agata Bolognese. It has total sales of 872 million Euros and employs more than 1,300 people.
When you think back to when the “raging bull” brand was created in 1963 and its first model, the 350GT, the first word that comes to mind is “innovation”. From that day on, Ferruccio Lamborghini has been a challenger to Enzo Ferrari. The motto chosen during Lamborghini’s 50th anniversary celebrations, “100 years of innovation in 50 of history“, emphasises how innovation is the driving force behind the company. More than 20% of turnover is invested in R&D to innovate in technology, design and manufacturing materials.
The Aventador, presented at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011, reaffirms this perpetual imperative as an example of the open innovation that Lamborghini has put in place, thanks also in part to Lenovys’ contribution, in response to the challenge issued to the entire VW group to become the world’s leader in comprehensive carbon fibre application.
The Bologna nased company also wanted to achieve excellence in the industrialisation of carbon frame production and in controlling industrial costs.
The extensive use of carbon fibre, even at a structural level, allows Lamborghini to be at the vanguard and the company wants to continue to stand out from their competition in this respect.
The weight/power ratio is the key parameter of super sports cars: if you can’t modify fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, then weight remains the only potential way to provide more speed and greater agility to the model.
The goal then was to automate carbon fibre machining in order to manufacture one complete, single piece for the roof and struts, in an unprecedented production process.
But what strategy was to be used for developing the Aventador? Open innovation, closed innovation or “on the shelf” innovation, utilising the skills within the group? The most important issue was to find the right balance between internal and external skills. Although the VW Group was no stranger to the use of lightweight materials in chassis structure, the production process for the composite material had never previously been carried out at this level, which was going to be entirely supported and managed within the company.
Thanks to important partnerships with companies with extensive experience in successfully creating composite materials, such as Boeing and Callaway Golf, the production process has reached a high level of excellence and autonomy.
That’ss why, even though the use of carbon is not unprecedented in the industry, we can safely talk about a major step in the evolution of automotive technology, an example of successful open innovation which is the result of strategies and experiments carried out and refined by the Lamborghini team in synergy with Lenovys.
These are some key steps of a long process of action, testing, experimentation and refinement:
- An analysis of internal core skills to focus on those in line with strategy and with the Aventador project: the CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced polymer) and lightweight engineering departments met the project needs, but were not sufficient. It was, therefore, necessary to work with the American company, Boeing, a leader in the aeronautical industry, to bring the production process to a level of expertise and excellence that would enable production to be supported internally.
- The introduction of a development model set up by Boeing, the Building Block Approach, adapted to Lamborghini for calculating the amount of material and the fibre layout, for example, according to the project’s requirements. These were then continuously aligned using repeated test and simulation activities in order to define a 100% reliable simulation model.
- Thus the the Advanced Composite Research Centre (ACRC) was created, a centre for innovation to study the progress of technologies and their optimisations based on cost and production volumes. The centre also specialises in the field of repairs, managing all repairs in order to guarantee and certify its quality , using the “Flying Doctor” technique coming form the aeronautics sector.
- Action on processes: CFK’s new composite manufacturing centre has assembled the technologies used (RTM Lambo and Pre-Preg) and its processes were designed at the same time as the product. This way the processes have been structured to ensure efficiency, standard compliance, constant monitoring and cost control.
- Elite Circle and on-demand use of staff: a contest which has allowed all the world’s industrial style centres, even those not necessarily connected to the automotive world, to participate in the process.
Here is a clip from the Lenovys Executive Master in Impact Innovation in which Luciano De Oto, Head of the Advanced Composites Research Centre and Body Structures Engineering, describes how this experience was carried out.
11 patents were introduced by Lamborghini in the two years following the launch of Aventador and many results and high-impact innovations were achieved through the partnership with Boeing and the technologies derived from aeronautics.
The challenge was overcome not just due to having constructed the Aventador’s monocoque but also by having perfectly orchestrated the internal and external resources, achieving various results in terms of:
- the product, thanks to the use of new materials and a unique design studio
- the instruments, thanks to applying the BBA model and introducing new computing systems
- protecting the know-how through the strategic decision to keep both the whole developmental process of the body and the composite material production process in-house
- development processes with reduced time and costs
- the flexibility of manufacturing processes, setting up of a new department
- attention to people thanks to a consolidated collaborative attitude at all levels, the launch of the new research centre and the formalisation of a permanent partnership with the University of Washington
Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. Thanks to Lenovys’ support, great attention has been paid to innovation, laying the foundations for the ongoing challenge of searching for new technical solutions that will satisfy more customers while at the same time ensuring reductions in industrial costs.
(Luciano De Oto, Head of ACRC, Lamborghini)
A case of Open Innovation, adapted from “Innovazione Lean. Strategie per valorizzare persone, prodotti e processi (di L. Attolico, Hoepli 2012), which allowed Lamborghini to gain knowledge from other manufacturing institutions, such as Boeing and Callaway Golf, make it their own and achieve new levels of excellence.