Employee Innovation CHALLENGE:

Health Ready

E-Drive System –

The Path to Success

Constantly asking questions launched Xiao Wu, the testing manager at the Magna Powertrain Engineering Center in Changzhou, China, on a journey that ended with him winning the 2021 Employee Innovation Challenge in November.

It’s an attitude that mirrors CEO Swamy Kotagiri’s approach to new mobility, and one that can help to create new products and processes. The most important question: Why?

Here are some of the milestones on our winner’s roadmap to the top:

-Wu asked: Why did this happen and how could it have been prevented?

-Real-time valuable data monitor in the vehicle could have detected the problem earlier, alerted the driver, and resulted in a simpler, less costly repair, he thought. The measurement data could be stored in the cloud and used to predict problems, and the data could be transferred to the company or the automaker. A high-risk issue could prompt an alert that could save money, improve the customer experience and vehicle safety, and prevent recalls.

-Wu asked: Why can’t we borrow technology from Smart Factories and Industry 4.0, and use it on future electric vehicles and new Magna products, such as eDrive – the heart of an EV?

-Talking with friends and colleagues led him to investigate smart devices, including one in his Magna testing lab used to monitor vibrations. He went online and studied sophisticated systems in Smart Factories that monitor equipment from large fans to air compressors, with an eye toward making a special, more affordable system for a car.

-Wu asked: Why didn’t my previous two Employee Innovation Challenge submissions win?

-After some soul searching, he realized he needed to “think big” and “go deeper” into his research and to spend more time on preparing a winning submission. A key moment: Realizing that his idea was an extension of his daily work, which provided the building block for his big idea.

-Wu asked: Why should the judges care about my entry?

-Based on his research, Wu knew current remote vehicle diagnostics do not provide any prediction of vehicle problems or failure. His Intelligent Failure Detecting System could gauge how a person’s driving style impacts the overall health of the EV system. It collects real-time data from the eDrive, uses diagnostic artificial intelligence, and analyzes product health. Market trends worked in his favor: the remote diagnostics marketing is booming, and the eDrive market will expand to 24.2 million by 2030.

-Wu asked: What is the best way to present my idea?

-Inspired and encouraged by his longtime Magna mentor Ryan Poland, a Magna Powertrain enterprise architect in Troy, Michigan, Wu decided to use a “storytelling” approach. He focused on keeping the presentation simple, with a human focus. The judges could relate to his idea, since it went beyond the technology.

After the judges studied over 140 Employee Innovation Challenge submissions from 20 countries, Wu was named the winner, with the goal of rolling out the Health Ready E- Drive System in two years.

A final question came to mind: How did the Magna culture help him to think big? His answer: Magna doesn’t provide an instruction manual to employees with detailed directions. It enables employees to create their own ideas, products and processes. That way, everyone becomes a problem solver, with lots of good ideas for the next Employee Innovation Challenge.