Those are both flexible terms, which makes them hard to define. Many products that ZF develops and sells have the characteristics of systems: a vehicle’s brakes, steering, and transmission, for example, are all built from many different electronic and mechanical parts. So we could actually refer to them as individual systems – and we often do. For our customers, however – the automobile manufacturers – these are all components that are a part of the system that is the entire vehicle. So it always depends on your frame of reference. At ZF, we are also active at this system level – we support the integration of our products into the vehicle. And we combine our individual systems into a group that can do a whole lot more. Adding this level of functional value, like we have done with our Integral Chassis Control (
) software, is usually only possible at the system level.
In general terms, I would describe a current ZF OEM component as such: an electromechanical actuator that can be controlled digitally and therefore has a software interface. So specifically, an absorber whose damping force can be varied electronically or our
, which adjusts the steering at the rear axle. But it’s only this interface, this ability to be controlled electronically, that makes the components interesting for systems integrators – regardless of whether they work here or at the OEM.