Mechatronic systems and their development

Sören Ole Kuklau studied Electrical and Automation Technology, and since July 2017 has been Team Leader for the specialist area of System Engineering and System Verification at AKKA in Cologne. In the interview, he tells us about his career at AKKA and about the tasks in his area.

"Our team works with a holistic view of mechatronic systems and their development – from planning to implementation."

Sören Ole Kuklau
Team Leader for the specialist area of System Engineering and System Verification   

Mr Kuklau, how did you come to AKKA and what are you working with?

I wrote my master’s thesis at GIGATRONIK, which is now AKKA, on the topic of HiL (hardware-in-the-loop) test benches, which we here in Cologne develop and build from the concept to installation and commissioning. At that time, I had the opportunity to develop our own HiL test bench. It was a very exciting time and I was able to learn a lot, always being closely involved, even in other colleagues’ project work. After the master thesis I took a permanent job here. Since then I have already worked on many projects. In July 2017 I was given the leadership of the team for the specialist area of System Engineering and System Verification. Our team works with a holistic view of mechatronic systems and their development – from planning to implementation.

What projects are you currently looking after?

We're developing HiL test benches for a supplier of steering systems in the region. This goes right through from concept development through assembly up to commissioning. In addition, we are working together with AKKA Belgium on a project for a company that develops engine transmissions. We support the customer with their test processes and methods. We are also currently working with a door and hatch supplier. In that case, we are responsible for the model-based development of a new system. This system makes it possible to replace car door handles with touch sensors, for example. These detect if a person wants to get in or out, and the door is then automatically opened. The door-actuator system can also be used for damping so that the door closes quietly.

Who do you work with in your projects?

We work very closely with our customers, which avoids misunderstandings. The Cologne site is relatively small with around 50 employees, so we also work a lot with other departments and there is always a lot of exchange between teams. We are networked via various working groups across different locations. There are certain competences at all AKKA sites, so we can support each other by working together in the working Groups.

                           "Everyone in the team is passionate about technology."

What are your goals in your work?

Everyone in the team is passionate about technology, and everyone wants to get the best from it. We are all inventors and enjoy tinkering. If we hit a problem, we also enjoy getting our teeth into it until it is solved. The final goal is clearly to satisfy the customer, but that is only possible by being happy with oneself and one’s work.

What challenges do your projects face?

I would say quite definitely communication with the customer. Here in Cologne we have very many different customers – and often this means a great deal of human work. It can be fun, but it can also be exhausting sometimes (he laughs).

Where do you see the strengths of AKKA?

I think one particular strength in comparison to our competitors is very clearly that we are well networked together. For us, it’s very important that we communicate with each other, that none of us is a lone warrior. We try to always keep a flow of information going within our team and between departments, so everyone knows who is the contact for specific subject areas, and where you can get advice. 

What do you personally particularly like at AKKA?

The very open and cooperative atmosphere in our team and across the site. You can always find an open ear and we also sort out problems of the individual. I also like the fact that there is an opportunity to grow. This is a very dynamic atmosphere here; a mood of optimism. You get the impression that it is always moving forwards. The goal is clear to everyone and we know where we're heading. That’s great, and it’s fun. As part of AKKA Technologies, the company will certainly be even more dynamic in the future.

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