interview | Berghof Process Management

Six questions to Philipp Miska

October 15, 2018

Most people have the impression that the topic of electromobility has only been gaining momentum for a short time. For Philipp Miska, on the other hand, it feels very different: For years, he has been working intensively and exclusively on the subject of quality assurance for charging technology. No wonder that this very special competence of the department manager for the Berghof systems HVSP and MCB at  Berghof Process Management in Mühlhausen (Thuringia) makes him a highly sought after contact for the automotive industry and speaker* at specialist events.

1. Today, Berghof is a trusted partner of many well-known automobile manufacturers when it comes to quality assurance for charging technology. And you are so well known as a contact person for the topic that you are now a sought-after speaker* at events. How did you acquire this special competence?

There are several reasons for this. I studied electrical engineering and already dealt with this topic in my diploma thesis about six years ago, which was also my start at Berghof. Specifically, this involved the question of how high-voltage accumulators – as experts refer to the more colloquial term batteries – can be stored over a longer period of time without any loss in quality. This was a hot top at that time, because this earlier storage generation had a very high self-discharge. Berghof was therefore already involved intensively with high-voltage traction batteries for electric vehicles when this topic was not yet on everyone's lips. In doing so, we have always – in keeping with the "innovation hub" concept that characterises the entire Berghof Group – been working very closely with our clients, the major automobile manufacturers. In recent years, we have developed and continuously refined high-performance systems. As a result, not only Berghof as a company, but also our systems and our employees in this area have made a very good name for themselves in the industry. 

2. What makes the topic of quality assurance for charging technology so challenging?

For safety reasons, the high-voltage accumulators are designed in such a way that they immediately switch to standby mode when the slightest irregularity occurs. Otherwise, in the event of an accident, the accumulator could naturally endanger the vehicle occupants. In order to test the memory, our test bench must therefore put it exactly in the condition it has during normal operation in the vehicle – the technical term for this is residual bus simulation. The parameters for this simulation vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer and from vehicle to vehicle. Our HVSP test system is therefore a modular system that we always tailor to the specific project. And it is designed in such a way that we can react very quickly to changed test specimens. Our wealth of experience in this field also enables us to keep the development times for systems adapted to the specific requirements of our partners very short.     

3. What are the other differences between Berghof's high-voltage storage test systems and other systems on the market?

Of course, quality assurance, as the name implies, is primarily about quality. But in the automotive industry there is still a second very decisive parameter in the area of quality assurance – and that is the time factor. Errors can always occur. But it is crucial to find and locate them quickly so as to keep downtimes as low as possible. Therefore, our software is programmed in such a way that our customers receive a very detailed error management. And our residual bus simulation also works with very short cycle times. This saves time – and therefore money.  

4. Speaking of time: At present, the topic of electromobility is really gaining momentum, also due to the diesel scandal. Of course, no car manufacturer wants to lose valuable time. Has this increased the time pressure for you and your team?

Timetables in the automotive industry are traditionally very ambitious and adherence to delivery dates is always high on the agenda of our customers. This daily challenge has, of course, gained even more urgency due to the current strong upswing. However, we have already reacted to this and are typically developing successful strategies in a current internal project to further optimise our assembly and commissioning times. After all, we want to deliver important added value to our customers not only with our products, but also with our services. 

5. Ambitious schedules, absolute adherence to schedules – sounds as if your everyday working life is quite busy. Nevertheless, you seem very balanced and calm. What is your opposite pole, how do you recharge your batteries in order to try to find a suitable picture?

I'm not afraid of difficult challenges – quite the opposite. Successfully solving seemingly unsolvable tasks was already fascinating and drove me during my studies. And here at Berghof, with our very special culture that promotes innovation, we have the best prerequisites to solve these daily challenges quickly, efficiently and convincingly. My counterbalance to it: Privately I appreciate peace and quiet very much and enjoy life to the full. We – and this even includes our little daughter – love to cook and of course we like to taste it just as much. As an absolute family man, I also greatly appreciate the fact that Berghof gives me a lot of flexibility as a modern employer, for example through the opportunity to work regularly in my home office.

6. You have already mentioned that some of you have been maintaining very close research partnerships with your customers, prominent automobile manufacturers, for years. Are there also corresponding partnerships with science?

Yes, there are. Above all, there is a very lively exchange with the Technical University (TU) of Dresden. I am also personally in close contact with the TU Dresden: I am currently writing my doctoral thesis here – of course also in the area of charging technology.