December 9, 2023

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Magna International has lately showcased the pilot of the much-anticipated Fisker Ocean SUV electric vehicle (EV) and pizza delivery robot at the trade show.

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But you will not see the company’s brand anywhere in any vehicle. The Aurora, Ontario- and Troy, Mich.-based company, founded 60 years ago in Detroit as an automobile supplier for the Big 3, does it all for auto dealers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

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The advanced automotive multinational — which describes itself as a mobility technology company — made its humble debut for Sun Visor in GM vehicles. Today, Magna employs 170,000 and generates approximately $37 billion annually by providing contract assembly services and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), automatic seating, bogs and chassis, powertrain systems, as well as mechatronics, digital imaging. Radars and sensors make up the body. Exterior, and yes, advanced lighting and mirrors too.

For example, Magna has built 3.7 million vehicles for OEMs, including the ePace for Jaguar, and is finalizing the Fisker Ocean SUV EV, which is based on a modified version of the EV platform developed by Magna, famous for Fisker Powers the FM29 platform. Automobile designer Henrik Fisker.

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But one thing is clear: Magna has no intention of entering the automobile industry. The contractile assembly is part of its DNA. “In terms of automotive, it’s sometimes easier to describe what we don’t,” said Boris Shulkin, Magna’s senior vice president and chief digital and information officer. -Year tenure, including EVP of Technology & Investment, SVP of Technology & Development, and VP of R&D.

“What makes us unique is that we are able to design and build vehicles for our customers, but we are not just that,” he says.

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Information technology plays an important role here. The company’s ongoing digital journey in close partnership with OEMs and multiple cloud providers has been expanding and transforming every aspect of Magna’s business and manufacturing processes for many years.

Accelerating Innovation in the Cloud

“Today we are heavily cloud-native across the enterprise,” says Shulkin, emphasizing that data collection and analysis are core business processes for the company’s complex systems development, prototyping and manufacturing lines.

Magna ignited its migration to a hybrid, multicloud infrastructure based on partnerships with AWS, Microsoft, and Google nearly six years ago.

“We manage that part of the cloud infrastructure with our suppliers and our partners in a very hybrid approach,” says Shulkin, noting that some data is stored in the private cloud and some in the public cloud.

Whether it’s developing advanced driver assistance systems, powertrain or chassis systems, energy storage systems, or LIDAR sensors and radars, the millions of miles driven by prototype and production vehicles in all-weather require massive amounts of data collection, testing, and validation. Is. conditions and terrain.

There’s so much data, it typically comes in petabytes – and that means an old-school approach to data transfer.

“As we’re collecting data, we’re sending data [to our cloud providers] by FedEx,” says Shulkin, who oversees 500 employees in Magna’s global IT workforce and 1,400 technology contractors spread across six business units globally. “Believe it or not, with the amount of data we’re collecting every day, it’s easier and faster to move a hard drive from a data location to a private cloud than to a dedicated connection to the cloud. The throughput of the most capable modern networks is considerable. Not big.”

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Magna has developed its data pipeline and tool chain in-house and in concert with its cloud partners. “It’s digital plumbing,” he says. “It’s an enabler for operational efficiency.”

Using a data design and analytics platform, Magna engineers build prototypes of subsystems, parts and vehicles not physically but electronically. “It’s about creating digital twins,” Shulkin says. “The ability to proactively use data as opposed to reactively. That’s where business value comes in.”

As for Magna, the cloud has been a key enabler of innovation for a wide range of companies, says Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey.

“The cloud helps companies access and run analytics and advanced engineering techniques that take advantage of large data centers rather than taxing on-site computers more,” he says. “It also helps them collaborate around the world, accelerate innovation and allow for 24/7 growth. The ability to rapidly grow for collaboration and huge computational requirements is an enormous value for the cloud.”

Data lakes as fuel for innovation

Magna is in the process of building out its enterprise digital platform – a data lake to address its big data problem. Together with its cloud partners, the company will use commercial products and tools like Snowflake to establish a vast, universal data pool that can be used by all of its enterprise employees.

But most important, Shulkin says, is building and managing standardized interfaces that allow all business units globally to deploy the data they need.

“What we are in the process of doing is creating the standard interface between all of this so that people can have seamless access to it,” he says. “Building the interface allows multiple employees to create a digital twin overnight without changing 50 ERP systems.”

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Data governance is another important aspect of Magna’s enterprise digital platform, which is used globally and is subject to different rules and regulations by providers and authorities in each country. Streamlining which is important for efficiency.

“If I had to summarize enterprise digital platforms, it is about enabling operational efficiency, improving the bottom line, and putting reliable data at the fingertips of decision makers as quickly as possible so that they can make proactive decisions, Shulkin says.

The Magna is enjoying the fruits of its technical mastery in a myriad of ways, from production capacity to its position as the No. 1 in sales in North America and a stellar reputation, which led the company to produce its Ocean SUV to Henrik Fisker. Inspired to choose month.

The company is reluctant to elaborate on the upcoming contract combination agreement with Fisker. But Shukhin is eager to discuss the comprehensive management of data, digital tools and digital processes Magna employs to build the digital twin and prototype of the next generation of EV and mobile systems.

“Since we are dealing with the size of clouds where it starts in petabytes, and some of it in private clouds and some of it in public clouds, Magna is the one who manages it through both development, testing and validation. Enterprise CIOs with similar big data challenges should take the driver’s wheel to ensure that all technical and governance requirements related to their complex hybrid and multicloud enterprises are properly handled.

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