Nearly two years ago, at the International Bus Exhibition “Busworld” in Brussels, we established our first contact with the Turkish company Karsan – a manufacturer of a wide range of commercial vehicles. The outbreak of the pandemic, against all fears, did not stop our cooperation, on the contrary – it took it to a completely new, previously unknown path. The impossibility of personal meetings due to the introduced lockdown forced our companies to take up new challenges and new forms of cooperation.

Such a challenge was the remote development and implementation of programming solutions based on the wide capabilities of KIBES 5 and comprehensive training of a team of engineers from the Karsan company – and what we want to emphasize, we managed to achieve it in just few months.

Of course, the experience and competences of both companies were of importance here. Our new partner has been present on the automotive market for 55 years. During its existence, the company has been producing for the world’s automotive giants and developing products sold under its own brand, which are distinguished by originality in the field of public transport. Thanks to business partnership and innovative solutions, Karsan is presently active in 20 different countries around the world.

The company produces commercial vehicles at state-of-the-art production facilities in Bursa, Turkey and provides marketing, sales and after-sales services through its extensive network of representatives in domestic and export markets.

Since 1981, Karsan has been producing commercial vehicles. Launched in October 1999, the Hasanağa plant is now able to produce 18,200 vehicles per year in just one shift. The company’s focus on achieving the satisfaction of enterprises and societies was its driving force, allowing the brand to develop  innovative projects, the implementation of which was
now the 100% electric bus.

Currently, Karsan manufactures H350 LCV for Hyundai Motor Company (HMC), 12-18m buses for Menarinibus, while also producing Karsan minibus JEST, market leader of Europe in its segment, in 2020. Karsan also offers solutions to the changing needs of the cities in public transport systems with its 8m accessible Karsan branded ATAK and STAR buses.

In addition to the production of vehicles, it also provides industrial services at its factory in Bursa. With an innovative brand DNA and a mission to provide sustainable solutions, Karsan is moving forward on a full scale and is constantly expanding its product offering by implementing innovations in electric vehicle technology that is shaping the future.

With such a business approach, Karsan was looking for an experienced partner who would help them implement these innovations. Our company was chosen.

Nurettin Özekmekci Karsan - Drabpol R&DWe asked Mr. Nurettin Özekmekci – manager and administrator of the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Department at Karsan about how the mutual cooperation was established, as well as about the company’s functioning in the pandemic era. DN: What challenges has Karsan faced in connection with this project by the pandemic?
NÖ: Working during the coronavirus pandemic was a great challenge for us. At the beginning of the pandemic, Turkey applied a long-term lockdown, and the precautionary measures have changed over time. Employees who could work remotely, worked from their home, and we provided social distance, of course supported by  decontamination of the areas periodically. The most serious problems we encountered during homeoffice working period was the necessity to work on vehicle prototypes. At one stage of the project, I even had to take one vehicle prototype to my home garage, in order to continue working.
DN: How would you rate the cooperation with Drabpol in these unusual conditions?
NÖ: Karsan and Drabpol have created a communication environment together. We quickly determined the method of cooperation and mutual obligations, and then we started working. At this stage, Drabpol’s tips were very important, and the team assigned to us turned out to be very helpful and willing to cooperate. In such an environment, cooperation was very healthy, even in conditions caused by COVID.
DN: Does the current market situation have a negative impact on the company?
NÖ: The impact of COVID-19 on the market is obvious, but the growing trend of electric utility vehicles is optimistic. Many investments have been postponed due to the uncertain economic situation, this also applies to the city bus market. However, we have high expectations for 2022 and see many opportunities in the near future.
DN: What is your opinion on the Research and Development Department (R&D) of Drabpol?
NÖ: Drabpol has extensive experience in research and development, especially for the automotive sector. Drabpol’s engineers successfully used their experience in developing the software they are responsible for in the Karsan project. The involvement in the project on the part of the Drabpol team was on an amazing level. We could always count on their support.
DN: What are your prospects for further cooperation?
NÖ: Karsan is a continuously developing company with high demands in a fast pace. Our determination also carries our suppliers further with new challenges. Cooperation with Drabpol can play a key role in the journey which we are just embarking on, and thanks to comprehensive preparation by the R&D team, we can focus on partial independence.

–How did it look like in practice?

To bring our joint project with Karsan company closer to our Readers, we  asked a representative of our  company, Mr Michał Sitek, to tell us more about it. Mr Sitek is Head of the R&D Department and Managing  Director of Drabpol Headquarters with a wide experience in the field of the implementation of management systems and vehicle logic, HV and LV in public transport vehicles, and industrial solutions.

DN: Knowing the conditions that force us to mobile work, could you please tell us about the realities and operations carried out for Karsan?

MS:To meet the expectations of its  customer, Drabpol did the impossible. We remotely led Karsan R&D  department and together we developed the vehicle logic in KIBES5. Most of function modes has been prepared in accordance with the Functional Safety, and we have managed to do that in just a few months!

The display has been equipped with an extensive vehicle diagnostics that was based not only on DM1 frames, but also on many proprietary algorithms. From the menu level one can change not only the basic functions, but also a lot of traction settings.

DN:How did the remote training for Karsan look like?

MS:During the process, our team was training Karsan engineers on the logi.CAD environment and HMI- CGI Studio. In the course of the project, we were able to explain and demonstrate on a “living organism” how the individual function blocks work, based – for example – on an online. TEST that was specially modified for the customer. The program created by the Drabpol team has been very carefully prepared with precise comments, and the entire work has been provided in OpenSource Code, which Karsan engineers will be able to develop, under our supervision, in the next project. Thanks to our involvement, Karsan engineers have gained experience and confidence in topology design on the KIBES5 platform. We have appointed several teams so that project like Karsan can be carried out concurrently. Each task group is responsible for a different area:
  • One team creates topology of low- and high-voltage circuits, creates documentation, advises on the selection of components, designs the harnesses, commissions and supervises the order, the first ssembly and future adaptation of changes depending on customer requirements,
  • The second team is responsible for the central computer and logic based on KIBES5, with keeping the Functional Safety,
  • The third team deals with dashboard project and connection between the logic and HMI environment. It is also responsible for the entire driver’s workplace.

All these activities are divided into individual work stages related to the entire process of adapting our solutions, having regard to a very precisely planned schedule. As we can perform
them at the same time, the full adaptation is shortened to an absolute minimum.

DN:Thank you for that comprehensive answer. Can you tell us something more about projects planned in the near future?

MS:There are new, large projects, where we provide comprehensive
services. Additionally, by designing electrical diagrams and full documentation, we enter the world of electromobility – by designing our own EV Template on the NEURO controller from DANA / TM4, but we will tell you about it soon …

DN:Thank you for the conversation.

The joint project with Karsan has shown that regardless of the prevailing global situation, geographical location and many other aspects, the team of our engineers is able to bring every project to the end.

Moreover, our team is able to leave behind a well-functioning group of trained employees who can cope with the further demands of the market.

We would like to say thank you to Karsan company for fruitful cooperation in the frames of joint project, and we wish further success.