A Future in System Integration

28 February 2024

Power Progress International met the Fétis Group at the Agritechnica 2023 show. Here are some bits about the company’s activity and goals for the future.

The Fétis Group is a privately-owned international engineering group focused on the heavy mobility, energy, and marine industries; headquartered in Nantes, France, the group has international operations from 33 sites in nine countries.

Fétis Group’s Chief Marketing Officer, Oliver Lythgoe, said the focus of the company is currently set on two major fields: expanding its international presence and being an active player in the decarbonization of machines. This latter activity is led by group’s Dintec brand.

The company recently opened a new facility for the manufacturing of wiring harnesses for off-highway and specialised machinery in Canada; it is also developing its international operations in France, Germany and Spain.

Fétis Group at Agritechnica Fétis Group exhibited at Agritechnica 2023

The North American market is important for the Fétis Group, as explained by its President, Damien Fétis: “We have been developing our North America strategy following positive discussions with potential partners and customers.

“Our first facility in North America meets an immediate need in our industry. Wiring harnesses are becoming more complex with increasing numbers of sensors to support automation, and the addition of high voltage circuits to support the move to vehicle electrification.”

He added: “Our customers tell us that it is difficult to find partners who can produce these systems to the required quality and in the volumes that are typical in our market. We have existing expertise both in the local Canada team and in our established facilities in Europe which have been experiencing high growth. This is a great way for us to build presence in North America with a service that we know well and where we are highly competitive.”

Besides the expansion in North America and in other markets in Europe, Lythgoe explained that the segment of machines electrification is a key one for the Fétis Group: “Electrification of vehicles is not new for The Fétis Group; It is more than 10 years since we implemented our first electrification project.”

According to Lythgoe, the market is entering a new phase: when it comes to transitioning to lower carbon-emission machines, many OEMs in the market have already successfully completed and tested their first proof-of-concept electric machines and are now moving on to more serious machine development projects with an intention for series production and commercial sale.

This approach is very demanding for OEMs in terms of engineering, supply chain, quality processes, validation and planning for field supportability, so the Fétis Group is gearing up in order to be able to support OEM product development teams through this period of change.

At the Agritechnica show, the Fétis Group and Dintec, showed a sample of its system integration capabilities with an electrically powered agricultural robot used as demonstration vehicle. “Besides our own wiring harnesses that deal with high-voltage distribution (up to 400 V), all the components and technology on board is brought together and managed by our group, such as the li-ion batteries, inverter, hub motors, hydraulics system, power distribution, and all software including precision farming tools.” Lythgoe said.

He explained that in the area of decarbonization, the Fétis Group is mainly concentrated on four macro technology areas:

Supply and integration of power sources

According to Lythgoe these will be in many cases batteries and the company is working with different manufacturers to identify the best for each project. But the company expects that also hydrogen fuel cell or hydrogen combustion engines will be in demand due to faster refuelling and ability to operate in areas without grid connection.

Electrical Integration

Power needs to be efficiently and safely managed. The Fétis Group is developing and producing in-house power distribution units (PDUs), power management software, and wiring harnesses.

Facilities in Germany and Spain are critical to this new capability, and these are being further strengthened with the opening of the new facility in Canada.

Software and Controls

The Fétis Group has doubled the number of software developers in the past two years and is now producing in house hardware and software for robotics applications and for functionalities related to precision farming.

Traction and Control

The group is focused on the integration of electric and hydraulic traction and actuation components to turn power into motion and useful work; Lythgoe explained that hydraulics will continue to be important in future machines, particularly for their efficiency with linear actuation, but the next generation of hydraulics will need a much tighter integration with the electrical power systems and the electronic control architecture.

Fétis Group at Agitechnica 2003

The company is also working at concepts to retrofit trucks to battery-electric operation, an activity carried out mainly in the German operations located in Kaufbeuren. “Retrofitting is meant especially for machines not travelling long distances, such as specialty and utility vehicles,” said Lythgoe. “Our aim is to design the complete powertrain replacement, keeping the same interfaces and auxiliaries, like the cooling pack, and to guarantee the same performances in terms of speed and torque.”

Already in 2004 a team was formed within The Fétis Group to serve off-highway industries such as construction, agriculture, materials handling and airport ground support.

Although these applications are still focus areas which are experiencing sustained growth, Lythgoe added: “Our activities have now expanded into adjacent sectors which are a great fit for our technical capabilities and where we are experiencing strong customer demand.

“Specialist on-highway trucks such as cranes, refuse vehicles, fire engines and similar have complex power requirements which we are well placed to serve. We will also be providing solutions for lower carbon power generation in the range 50 to 500 kW.”

Read more about exhibitors and new products at Agritechnica 2023 in the 1Q issue of Power Progress International, HERE


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