STORY Corporate

We know what we're doing

Posted on June 22, 2022 by Jan Schumacher

Clemens Berger has been heading up the Mobile Power Solutions business unit since February. Here, he talks about his first 100 days and discusses what will be important during the next five years.
Friedrichshafen, Germany

Mr. Berger, you took over as head of Mobile Power Solutions at Rolls Royce Power Systems at the beginning of February. Did you imagine your first 100 days going the way they did?  

Many things I had actually expected, and some surprised me. The fact that it's exciting, for example, was something I'd been expecting, and is also one of the reasons I wanted to be here: Rolls-Royce Power Systems is working very concertedly on its technological transformation and is doing everything it can to make energy and mobility sustainable. There aren't a lot of companies where you have a similar number of opportunities and can make a real contribution to greater sustainability.    

What surprised me favorably was the culture, which is very welcoming. After two weeks I really felt part of the organization.    Another positive aspect – and one that can't be taken for granted – is that there are a lot of good people here, we are a knowledge-rich company. The skill level and professionalism are remarkably high.

Do you already have a favorite mtu product?

As an engineer, I can get very excited about engines as sophisticated as the ones we develop and manufacture at Rolls-Royce Power Systems – especially our own series. These are no off-the-shelf products, and a lot of application experience has gone into them.  At the same time, I'm currently particularly fascinated by hybrid technologies, such as the mtu Hybrid PowerPack in the rail sector. They illustrate the transformation perfectly on a technical level and make our systems capability plain to see.

You've talked to a lot of customers in your first 100 days. What do customers want from Rolls-Royce Power Systems?  

I see us as having five key tasks ahead of us: Firstly: Our customers expect us to be able to advise them objectively and competently as they move towards sustainable solutions. They want to see that we are working on the right technologies for the future. As a customer, I want to be sure that, with Rolls-Royce, I have a supplier who currently has a super product and is also the right partner for me in the long term.

Secondly: Long-standing customers appreciate our great service, and we're also often able to convince new customers with our good service network. But our customers also expect us to continue proactively to develop and provide good service products, including digitalization solutions with real added value.

Thirdly, and with a view to our integration and systems expertise: We are independent and understand complex systems. This is a great opportunity and makes us very attractive to our customers when it comes to the best solutions. I believe we can create an advantage for ourselves by growing our integration capabilities. We have to be open.

Point four concerns competitive prices: We are now seeing much stronger competition in some of our core applications, especially from vendors that have greater economies of scale than we do. Good technology is one thing, but we need good solutions to lower our product costs and our total cost of ownership so that we don't open the door for competitors.  

Point five concerns current demand: Our customers currently have a great need for solutions to drive their products or supply energy – across all applications. We have to apply our very best efforts to meet this need. Our job is to make our customers successful, and that's where our products come in. If we don't serve our customers now, someone else will.

Where is the Mobile Power Solutions BU going to be in five years' time?  

In Service, we're going to be even stronger five years from now. We're already providing great service right now, but we'll certainly have more opportunities if we think of service more as a business. That would be a win-win for the customer and for the company.    

Apart from that, we want to win flagship sustainability projects in all applications this year. Initially, the main focus is on hybridization, i.e. combining diesel engines with batteries, as in the mtu Hybrid PowerPack, which has been in service on a UK rail line since February. The first hybridization projects are also underway in the Marine sector. If we win orders here, then five years down the line we'll have the relevant field experience and will certainly have sold the initial large quantities of new-tech systems. In Mining or in Agriculture, we may then have extra solutions for full electrification.  

There's a lot of discussion about methanol engines at the moment, and hydrogen is also on the table in all its possible forms. We have the know-how to define the most intelligent combinations of applications and new technologies. My goal is that we integrate the most suitable solution into the different applications, even in the governmental business.    

We're also discussing truly exciting scenarios in which we can offer systems to our customers with the involvement of all our business units. This can be a great opportunity.  

One thing I would like to emphasize: Our outstanding expertise in combustion engine construction has made us successful. We will need this for many years to come in some applications and in intelligent combination with new solutions. There is also still a great deal of potential in combustion engines, especially in their use with sustainable fuels, and in some applications, they simply cannot be replaced.  

How great is the desire among customers to focus on sustainability, i.e. on combustion engines with e-fuels, hybrid solutions, or even entirely new products?  

Customers are at very different stages with their strategies and product developments. This was very obvious at a recent conference involving our worldwide sales partners in Amsterdam. Some partners have already embedded sustainability at the heart of what they do, while others have shown only limited interest to date – mainly because their local markets don't demand it. But here too, we have the opportunity to develop these markets in conjunction with our partners and lead the way forward. Ultimately, there's no escaping the issue for anyone, so it's just a matter of time.  We have some customers who are pioneers and are already using new technologies in specific projects. The move toward e-fuels is still relatively easy here. It gets exciting when we start talking about hybrid solutions, hydrogen burners, etc.  

Most customers are currently trying to figure out what the right technologies are going to be for them in the future, which means they're still buying current technology while working that out.

And that's exactly where we come in right now. Rolls-Royce Power Systems started examining a lot of new solutions many years ago. We've now accumulated a vast amount of expertise and know the possibilities and limits, opportunities and risks of the new technologies. We're able to deliver the very consulting expertise our customers need right now, and we can also benefit from these in-depth discussions as we get an even better understanding of their requirements.  

Where does Rolls-Royce Power Systems currently stand in terms of sustainability?

I think we put more thought into this than our competitors and many other companies. Even if it is sometimes an exhausting journey: We're setting the pace here and are not afraid to make bold decisions and move forward.  

In specific terms, this means that at Rolls-Royce Power Systems we didn't just nod in the general direction of net zero, and I'm genuinely impressed by the seriousness with which our people are working on ways to reduce our own carbon emissions and those of our products – from production to product management, and from R&D to finance. That really is “walking the talk”.

Why is sustainability also important to you personally?  

We have an obligation. Period. We all have an obligation to preserve our environment. At Rolls-Royce Power Systems, we have the capabilities, and therefore the mission, to do more than others. For me personally, that means my position comes with a certain responsibility and in particular the obligation to make the greatest possible contribution in the areas of mobility and energy supplies.  

And by the way, my 14-year-old daughter regularly challenges me about cutting waste, avoiding garbage and reducing carbon emissions. She doesn't beat around the bush when she demands that we adults have an obligation to do our best here – just as she and her friends adopt sustainable behaviors in their everyday lives consistently and naturally.    

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