Provision of samples and pilot production parts – as flexible as the automotive on-board networks themselves

Missing samples can jeopardize development schedules

A day in the life of on-board network development: the “bill of materials” is ready for the next construction phase. All the suppliers are on schedule and have confirmed the delivery deadlines for the components required (those with B-sample status, for example). All trades are harmonized and coordinated. The vehicles can be constructed on time.

However, on Friday afternoon the smoothly running schedule faces disruption. Control unit XY is changed, a routing path is modified, an error has crept into the umpteenth revision loop. Conclusion: the schedule for setting up the test vehicles on time is looking shaky. The ordered pilot series parts or samples are obsolete and need to be re-ordered, manufactured and delivered by suppliers under extremely tight deadlines. Some of the tools that are only designed for producing a specific quantity are being used to produce the samples. Should these tools even still be used at all?  There’s a whole list of critical issues. The entire vehicle development schedule is at stake! And this always (also) has a knock-on effect for the onboard network. Does this sound familiar? Yes, very…

In the following article, find out more about the role that samples play in vehicle development, particularly in the area of onboard networks and how the associated challenges are dealt with.

Sample statuses in the automotive sector

“Manually produced samples”, “pilot series parts” and “prototypes” are common terms heard during vehicle development. The automotive industry categorizes sample statuses into A-, B-, C- and D-samples. The difference between them lies in the level of prototype maturity of the components to be developed. The level of maturity increases throughout the development process until the prototypes are ready to go into production. Prototypes from the respective sample statuses are built into test vehicles and then tested.

  • A-sample: usually functional samples that are fit for purpose with limitations and have a low degree of maturity (including manually produced samples)
  • B-sample: basic sample, fit for purpose, with a high degree of maturity (can be produced on auxiliary tools)
  • C-sample: fully functional samples from series tools
  • D-sample: like C-samples, are provided by the supplier for the purpose of type approval

Pilot series vehicles cannot be produced without samples – “reliability” is the keyword when it comes to suppliers

At MD ELEKTRONIK, we have been working successfully for around 30 years with all parties involved in the area of onboard networks and supplying data cables for vehicles generally as second-tier suppliers. We soon recognized the need for flexible processes and high delivery performance and optimized these areas for the benefit of our customers. MD has structured its processes in such a way that it supports everyday life in the development and production of the “onboard network” in the best possible way.

Various targeted measures make MD the world’s most flexible assembler of data cables for vehicles. We have rolled out our production processes in all regions and can therefore offer short delivery channels. We have defined flexible processes on our series production lines for urgent pilot series, small-series and sample requirements. Manual or semi-automated production lines also help us to react at lightning speed to support our customers in meeting deadlines in the best possible way.

At MD, for customer- and project-specific pilot test volumes with up to 100 parts, the standard lead times are 4 weeks from the date of order. These volumes are manufactured on series production equipment, fully tested, and meet the customer’s specific technical requirements.

Last-minute changes – everyday life in the development of onboard networks

The development of onboard networks will continue to demand a high degree of flexibility from all parties involved. OEMs are seeking standardization through zone architecture, etc. However, it is likely that “amorphous” onboard networks will remain the most flexible part of the entire vehicle and will therefore continue to be the most frequently affected by changes. Increasingly shorter product running times also result in tighter development schedules. So it is all the more important to have reliable partners who respond quickly to new situations and ensure adherence to the specified time frame.

MD ELEKTRONIK: short standard lead times and flexibility in special cases

MD’s sample catalog reduces these standard lead times to 2-3 weeks. Our sample catalog offers 1,500 standardized items with specified lengths and configurations that are already provided for in our systems. You simply select the cable you need from our sample catalog. We deliver within 2 to 3 weeks as long as the necessary raw materials are in stock.

Of course, there are also situations where lead times of 2 to 3 weeks are too long. In these exceptional cases, everyone involved needs to be extremely flexible, and the required primary materials must be made available quickly. If all the necessary raw materials are in stock and the customer gives its immediate approval, components can actually be delivered much faster. At MD, the record delivery time is 48 hours from the date of order, and this even included logistics from Europe to North America. Our customer’s schedule was saved!

Do you urgently require coaxial cables, Ethernet cables or HSD cables to achieve your next stage of production? Better call MD! 

Do you urgently require coaxial cables, Ethernet cables or HSD cables to achieve your next stage of production?
Better call MD!


Wolfgang Reitsamer

Wolfgang Reitsamer is Global Vice President of Sales International at MD. His role is to acquire new customers for MD and to continuously expand business with them. Over the past 6 years, he has created the organizational and technical conditions to ensure this, especially in cooperation with his colleagues in North America and Asia. He has over 20 years of sales experience, including 14 in the automotive industry. In addition to close contact with international customers and working in a global team, he is inspired every day to continue to strategically and operationally expand MD’s customer base.