Developing future-proof solutions in a transformative era of the automotive industry
Software is playing a major role in the transformation of mobility. The key underlying trends revolutionizing the automotive industry, from electrification, connected vehicles and digitalization to user experience and increasing automation of driver assistance systems, all rely heavily on software. Experts predict that by 2030, software will account for 60 per cent of a vehicle’s value, up from 20 per cent today. Recognizing the importance of this mobility revolution, Plastic Omnium has established a specialized and centralized division called “OP’n Soft”, to consolidate and bolster the company’s software expertise.
Software expertise is key to a leading role in transformation
Tomorrow’s vehicle will be a software-defined one. Users will be able to add their choice of constantly updated connected services, features and applications. Digital projection solutions, a core project within Plastic Omnium, can for example only be realized with the appropriate software foundation, which enables users to display a wide range of options for individual content. These include for example playing full-size images, graphics or videos on the headlining, thereby enhancing the interior effect and creating a more pleasant atmosphere in the vehicle. As these capabilities evolve, the underlying software has to become more complex. This is why software expertise is critical to the success of driving a new generation of mobility.
Combining internal strengths to meet technological challenges
The establishment of a software development center in Iași, Romania, was a true change for Plastic Omnium. It is one of the 12 sites of OP’nSoft, the recently established division within Plastic Omnium. The division is entirely dedicated towards the development of software for the company’s own products and services, by exploring the strong collaboration between software and hardware and how both can best synergize together. It stands as a significant component of the strategic plans of Plastic Omnium, to become a cost-effective, qualified, and attractive supplier of on-board products and related services to customers. Key driver here is PO’s holistic approach: 150 employees in 9 countries work on more than 100 key projects, resulting in 100% of the software integrated into PO products being produced and developed by PO. Apart from Iasi, OP’nSoft has another main site in Paris (France), and further sites in Toulouse (France), Wels (Austria) or Salzgitter and Cologne (Germany). The core areas of focus of the main center in Iasi include fuel cells, electrification, cybersecurity and since July 2023 also lighting solutions. The recent integration of two lighting companies, Varroc Lighting Systems (VLS) and ams OSRAM AMLS, with their global presence and many years of experience in software for the automotive market, has opened up new ways of international collaboration in projects, skills and cultural diversity. As a result, the OP’nSoft team is now in an exciting phase of merging teams, joining from other divisions with different product lines and additional development sites.
The success of the Software Unit is conditioned by its ability to coordinate all software-related activities, working closely with various divisions. There are so many benefits, in terms of the possibilities for integrating several factors relating to data structuring, intellectual property, cybersecurity and interfaces with customers’ operating systems, as well as boosting competitiveness and skills.
Agility as the driver of success
The centrally organized development of a wide variety of software applications requires the use of agile methods. This enables both a high degree of adaptability to customer needs and greater team engagement. A team of nine talented, highly skilled engineers, takes on various roles, including software requirements, software architecture & design, software coding, software testing, and software project management. Each project operates as an agile team, with a software Scrum Master serving as the bridge between the OP’nSoft team.
However, agility is not only a crucial factor in terms of working methods, but also in terms of testing. Agile and automated testing are central methodological areas of development at OP’nSoft. This means that software testing is performed continuously throughout the software development lifecycle. Unit, integration, and requirement tests are performed for each software increment to proactively identify and correct problems at an early stage, rather than waiting until the end of development. Test cases are developed in parallel with programming of the software and are continuously reviewed by the team. The level of test automation continues to increase: Unit and integration testing is now fully automated, and the automation rate for requirement testing is over 60 per cent. Improving the level of test automation provides the team with a more robust framework to take full advantage of continuous integration opportunities.
Exciting opportunities ahead
With the founding of Plastic Omnium’s OP’nSoft, the company is well positioned for the global trend of software-driven solutions. As software controls more and more of a vehicle’s functions, quality, reliability and safety have become the main focus of software development. Global standards and regulations provide the framework for the development process, enabling future growth and the ability to adapt development processes to new applications. In addition to that, the centralization of software development will support the entire Plastic Omnium product portfolio with cross functional teams located around the world. It will provide higher software quality standards for all product lines, and new opportunities with diverse career path in a large organization with high growing potential for all engineers.
About Plastic Omnium
Plastic Omnium is a world leader in innovative solutions offering a unique mobility experience which is safer and more sustainable. Innovation-driven from the very beginning, Plastic Omnium develops and produces intelligent exterior systems, customized complex modules, lighting systems, energy storage systems, and electrification solutions for actors from every mobility sector.
With €9.5 billion economic revenue in 2022, an international footprint of 150 plants and 43 R&D centers, Plastic Omnium relies on its 40,500 employees to meet the challenges of transformations in mobility.
Plastic Omnium is listed on Euronext Paris, compartment A. It is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD) and is part of the SBF 120 and CAC Mid 60 indices (ISIN code: FR0000124570). www.plasticomnium.com