#roadtripsweden: The man with the overview

Automotive-sector | Engineering | mobility of the future | People at thyssenkrupp | While spring is slowly emerging in Germany, there is an absolute contrast for 18 colleagues. Their challenge? Find out whether our components for the automotive industry can withstand extreme conditions. And that’s exactly where the major car manufacturers tested their vehicles: on snow and ice. Raphael Stratmann is at the forefront of our #roadtripsweden. He demonstrates the necessary foresight when driving and gives us an overview of all locations when doing business.

Anyone looking for Raphael Stratmann during a road trip to Sweden will usually find him behind the steering wheel of a dream car with thyssenkrupp components. Often, it’s the BMW M2 – a car he’s particularly fond of. “It’s really hard to get me out of the car. This is like my playground,” says the technical project manager in product development, while he drifts the car through hats on the racetrack in the slalom.

Raphael Stratmann travels thousands and thousands of kilometers a year – and yet nobody can get him out of his cars.
Raphael Stratmann travels thousands and thousands of kilometers a year – and yet nobody can get him out of his cars.

“I really can’t get enough of cars.” – for someone who has commuted almost 1,100 kilometers every weekend for years, that’s an impressive statement. So, it’s no wonder that Raphael enjoys the endurance test for the components on Swedish ice despite the long distances. At the same time, he can also find out first-hand whether the quality of the thyssenkrupp Bilstein dampers meets the high standard in extreme situations.

Focus on the product

When Raphael is not chasing the nine road-trip cars over ice tracks, he bears product responsibility for shifting production as part of strategic plant development. Such projects focus equally on deadlines and budgets as well as high product quality at all production sites.

In product development, he places the highest demands on components such as the piston rod in vibration dampers at every location, and these are the same at every production location. “Each production site brings with it its own challenges, which we have to take into account on the product side. We also implement our standards for older components,” he said.

As technical project manager in product development, Raphael (second from left) is not only concerned with the products themselves, but also with how, where and when exactly the components are best produced.
As technical project manager in product development, Raphael (second from left) is not only concerned with the products themselves, but also with how, where and when exactly the components are best produced.

For the piston rod, for example, there used to be several drawings of individual parts, some of which were more than 20 years old. Today there are collective drawings in a modular system. More standard, less complexity. A real team effort for Raphael: “I’m glad that we have a great team available to us for these challenges in product development and in all other business units. This makes working fun.”

Well positioned for new challenges

It is precisely this passion that Raphael shows at the wheel that drives him on his job. He has been part of the Bilstein team since 2016. “In fact, I identify strongly with the brand. That’s what drives it. On the one hand, there is a sense of belonging to the group, which offers security and opportunities. And on the other hand, Bilstein has remained ‘small’ enough to stand out – if you like, you have the chance to be more than just a small gear in the gearbox.”

This will also be important for the future – after all, major challenges await us in the automotive sector. “Electrified drive variants will also be added to the various customer requirements. This also means new requirements for our dampers and for us.” But Raphael is certain: “With our systems, especially in the semi-active and active chassis areas, we are well positioned for the future.”

Joint trip through Sweden: more exchange, better understanding

And the trip to Sweden has another goal: to connect the colleagues closer with each other. Through this way, for example, Raphael can further deepen his overview of the business – after all, colleagues from all disciplines who don’t otherwise see each other every day are brought together for a common goal. Quality management, maintenance, logistics, marketing, IT – this is where everyone comes together.

Group picture of the Sweden travel group – a road trip, a well-rehearsed team and unlimited driving fun together.
Group picture of the Sweden travel group – a road trip, a well-rehearsed team and unlimited driving fun together.

In the evening, in addition to the conversations about the impressions of the day, the focus is always on the exchange. How did the components perform? Which projects are planned for which teams? Who is going to tackle which challenge and how? Back to Germany, that’s also how they bring the understanding for the work of others to Germany.

As different as the professions of the road trip participants may be, they are all united by the one Bilstein spirit that has had a decisive influence on the trip. Raphael would describe it as follows: “We are all passionate about it, can think laterally and with it and want to make a difference”. And that doesn’t just apply to the dream cars on Swedish roads.”

Do you want to steer the development of our newest BILSTEIN innovations, too? As our new Project Manager, you can! Get the full job description here!

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