Motoring in the blood

Automotive-sector | People at thyssenkrupp | Thomas Heitz has been developing automotive parts for 18 years now. Today, his patented steering columns can be found in the models of many renowned car makers.

The steering column I’m holding here was developed by me and my team. It’s 70 centimeters long, consists of 40 separate parts, and at just 2.4 kilograms, is the world’s lightest steering column. Together we have registered six different innovative patents for our lightweight design variants. A range of car makers are installing our steering columns, including Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, and Skoda. But my favorite model would have to be the Bugatti Veyron and its successor the Chiron which will come into the market this autumn. With a top speed of more than 430 km/h, this are the world’s fastest serially produced cars – and they’ve got my steering columns inside it!

 

together we achieve more – synergizing with various subsidiaries of thyssenkrupp

My main thing at thyssenkrupp, for many years now, has been the development of steering columns and shafts. I haven’t gotten bored once. In terms of both materials and technology, there is lots going on in research and development – and I’m one of the people driving it. As Head of Predevelopment of Steering Shafts and Steering Columns, I’m in charge of a team with 31 employees. We’re working on new products and an integrated approach for lightweight construction. In the future, it’ll be crucial that we can introduce new innovations on the market that are almost entirely self-financing. That’s because of the major trend towards energy efficiency and CO2 reduction. We are working towards hybrid structures for an innovative modular steering column design, and steering shafts with new sliding connections for the highest torque loads. For our in-house research, we synergize with various subsidiaries of thyssenkrupp. We also work with numerous tertiary education facilities. The premium of together within thyssenkrupp and the networking in projects such as InCar®plus are invaluable and produce some excellent collaborative results, cultural change and create synergy effects.

 

“My team always likes to try out new things – we are full of energy, passion and creativity. We really push for progress.”

DR.-ING.THOMAS HEITZ (48) Head of Predevelopment of Steering Shafts and Steering Columns

Teamwork culture is so important

When I started here at thyssenkrupp in Liechtenstein, I instantly took to the uncomplicated teamwork culture, which is very much about getting things done. We address challenges head on and resolve them as we can. My goal for my teams is that we network closely and can absolutely depend on each other’s work. When you have team members from many different countries, that can be daunting. To me personally, this kind of international environment is quite normal after all my work trips to China, Mexico, Brazil, and other places.

Steering column from thyssenkrupp

Steering column from thyssenkrupp

 

Every team needs one hardcore inventor

I’m deeply convinced that innovation comes from teamwork, and that it involves very different skills and talents. Teams have always produced more innovation than individuals. It really helps to have at least one hardcore inventor enthusiast in the group – this helps us to boldly go where no man has gone before.

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