Hexagon Studios - Technology Based Innovative Engineering Services in Mobility and Defense Industries, launching Domestic Designs and National Products

In an exclusive Defence Turkey interview, Hexagon Studio Managing Director Mr. Tolga Kaan Doğancıoğlu discusses Hexagon Studio’s collaboration in projects of various sizes and scope with nearly all public and private sectors for both OEMs and Suppliers in local and international platforms, as well as the company’s ambition to assume responsibility in the indigenous product design and development projects that will minimize Turkey’s foreign dependency

Issue 74

Defence Turkey: Dear Mr. Doğancıoğlu, first of all we would like to thank you for your time. Hexagon Studio has been providing engineering and design services to a wide variety of industries, from the defense industry to automotive industry, at home and abroad. Could you please tell us more about Hexagon Studio? 

Hexagon Studio was established in 2006 in order to provide engineering and design services in local as well as international markets. Our company, which aspires to become one of the leading R&D centers of Europe within the next decade, is one of the significant research and development centers in Turkey with hundred percent domestic capital.

We are focusing on delivering unique products with added value in the automotive, defense industry, composite boat and agricultural machinery sectors. Within this context, with our 260 skilled personnel and our technological infrastructure, we provide turnkey solutions for our clients throughout the entire product development process; starting with conceptual design and proceeding with engineering design and development, prototype manufacturing, design verification and technical assistance in product launch.

Our in-house model and prototype workshop enables us to manufacture full vehicle prototypes to be used in on-road performance tests and functional tests. We are also capable of conducting fatigue durability tests in subsystem and component levels. 

Thanks to our know-how and past experiences that we gained in the projects, which we completed in the past, we have the opportunity to create synergy in the industrial sectors we serve. Additionally, projects with different scopes help us leverage our technical capabilities. 

Defence Turkey: Hexagon Studio stands out with impressive R&D investments and projects. Within this context, what would you like to say on investments and R&D projects conducted thus far and also what are your strategies for the upcoming period? 

As Hexagon Studio, we are performing engineering R&D activities focused on commercial products. Our product development process is shaped by our design and engineering activities based on R&D and scientific basis. The verification of an engineering design through computer aided simulations and analyses prior to the prototype product stage is an undeniable interim process where the importance of investment in R&D infrastructure becomes evident. 

The infrastructure should not be limited merely to the machinery, equipment, hardware and software. We believe that it is essential to consider indigenous product development projects based on R&D within the overall program. Hence, we tend to execute small scale R&D projects that would boost up the technological infrastructure of the complete program through our equity capital.

Concept V1 vehicle that we developed from scratch for the New York Taxi Tender in 2010; bus family ranging from 6 meter minibus and 8 meter bus providing access for the physically disabled, which we designed for a domestic customer of ours in accordance with related laws and regulations; 12 meter solo buses and 18 meter articulated buses that we developed for city transportation are some examples of the indigenous products realized by Hexagon Studio in the automotive sector 

In the near future, we aim to focus on vehicle electric power systems, vehicle control and power control electronics and embedded software. We are reviewing and shaping our human resources and infrastructure accordingly in order to design the future today.

Defence Turkey: Hexagon is involved in international programs abroad with innovative and indigenous projects based on R&D. Could you please inform us about these projects and the cooperation activities that are being conducted abroad? 

Since its establishment in 2006, Hexagon Studio has assumed responsibilities in significant projects in the automotive sector abroad as well as at home. Our journey, started with the design of the interior and exterior trimming on behalf of Italian companies considered to be the masters of the European automotive industry, continued with the conceptual design of a vehicle that we designed specifically for the European and Indian markets, featuring IEC engine and electric power package options.

The previously mentioned bus projects led to vehicles which successfully operate in Turkey and Europe today. Our experience in public transport vehicles sector has provided us with an advantageous position in a bus development project that we are performing again for the Indian market. We are glad to see that we are in a preferred position as we combine our high-quality design approach with our affordable engineering costs, compared to those in Europe.

Defence Turkey: In order to unveil R&D based, indigenous and innovative products, without a doubt necessitates skilled human resources, individuals who are experienced in their fields.  Within this context, what would you like to say on the structure of your personnel and the infrastructure of your facilities? What are your selection criteria within your HR screening and recruiting process?

Mr. İnan Kıraç and Mr. Jan Nahum, esteemed experts in the automotive industry, are the founding partners of Hexagon Studio. Their notability is recognized not merely within the limits of Turkey but also internationally, considering the knowledge, experience and the contributions they have made in the sector. Mr. Nahum’s contributions to the defense industry are of great significance and shall be valued as well.

Our qualified manpower is our most significant resource as we shape our activities in various sectors in line with the vision of our founders. No matter how advanced the software, the hardware and the benches that we have been utilizing are, the way to derive the maximum benefit out of them is through existence of the knowledge and the staff making use of this knowledge in a proper way. Knowledge is not an easily gained value. In our contemporary world based on competition, no one provides the other with the required information fully, even if it is paid for. Therefore, you shall generate, advance and protect the knowledge by your own resources. We shall keep in mind that human factor is the primary equity capital here.

We endeavor to identify the most suitable candidates with the qualities required by the position during our recruitment process. The challenging part starts after the employment of the appropriate staff. We equip our staff with the responsibilities to challenge themselves in the projects to which they are assigned. We take care of training the team members to be proactive so that they are capable of foreseeing problems, and also taking measures and creating solutions in the event that a problem arises.

We perform all our activities with the R&D principle based on innovation. We have a corporate process that collects our staff’s ideas containing innovation and invention. In this process the ideas are evaluated by examining their indigenousness by comparing them with IP databases at national and international levels. We award every idea that is qualified for registration. In this way, we not only motivate our personnel to generate indigenous ideas but also expand our patent and design patent portfolio.

Defence Turkey: At the model and prototype workshop on your premises, you are capable of manufacturing 1:1 scaled and/or small scale models, and static/functional prototypes. What are your comments on the advantages that this significant capability brings to you in the market? 

In order to evaluate and understand what the final product would look like after completion of the conceptual design phase, we manufacture small scale and/or 1:1 scale models to have feedback from the end users and customers. In this way, we are able to finalize the interior and exterior designs of the vehicles based on the comments we received for these samples.

Verifying a product design with the help of computer aided engineering simulations during the development phase is of great importance as it enables the designer to foresee possible problems that may arise after prototype build and act accordingly to improve the design. However, one should keep in mind that this process is just a simulation of the real world. The design needs to be verified through observation of the impact of various user profiles under actual operational conditions. We find the opportunity to correlate and correct our mathematical models by comparing simulation results with the data set collected on the functional prototypes. In this way, we gain the opportunity to proceed merely with virtual verification without requiring prototype tests for a similar product in the next project. 

Building the prototype in-house ensures confidentiality of the project and end product at both commercial and national levels. Moreover, managing the entire product development cycle is an advantage in terms of achieving the integrity of business processes.

Thanks to our in-house model production infrastructure, we are capable of manufacturing composite boat mold models up to 26 meters. This type of manufacturing process is particularly preferred since the molds utilized in mass production conditions need to be long lasting and dimensionally stable.

Defence Turkey: Hexagon was awarded the best R&D center in engineering and design areas by the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology. What is the importance of this award for your company? 

R&D activities constitute a high percentage of our annual expenditures. In order to render our innovative design approach sustainable in the services and solutions that we provide and to be one step ahead in the market, we periodically review our R&D based investments through innovation perspective. We are aware of the positive outcomes of this approach, as we have become an exporter of engineering design services to the main leading contractors in the world specific to vehicle design and development. 

The “Most Successful R&D Center in Engineering and Design Award” that we received in 2015 indicates that all our efforts and achievement are recognized and approved by the government as well. In this sense, we are pleased to observe the positive consequences of the incentive policies, which are implemented by our government to extend R&D over the industry base especially within the last fifteen years, on our business results accordingly.

Defence Turkey: Hexagon Studio has many patents and useful model applications. Could you please elaborate on your activities regarding these? 

In our opinion, innovation is based upon indigenous product design. This is possible through promotion of creativity and innovative thinking only. We established an Idea and Invention Management System in our company. We collect our employees’ ideas having characteristics of innovation and invention, that they put forth throughout the product design process and we survey whether they are indigenous or not by using national and international databases. We award the owners of the inventions that are qualified for patent registration application and initiate the registration process in turn. We also present an additional award after the patent application is approved. In this way, we now have a portfolio of over thirty-five intellectual property rights. We continue to motivate our employees to increase this number rises each year. Another advantage enabled by this system is the execution of our design process without violating of any existing intellectual property rights. 

Defence Turkey: What would you like to say on the companies you cooperate with for local defense industry projects and any details you can share about these projects? 

Hexagon Studio collaborated in projects of various sizes and scope with nearly all public and private sector defense industry main contractors so far, most of them being Turkish Armed Forces Foundation companies. The conceptual design of a bridge console for a naval ship, weight and durability optimization for armored tactical vehicles, transfer mechanisms for ammunition in various calibers, turrets for different purposes, shock dampener systems for surface combatant platforms, test and simulation platform design and production, engineering design of a new generation CBRN gas mask are the main projects that were accomplished by Hexagon Studio as the mechanic design subcontractor. The majority of these projects have completed field performance tests successfully and have entered the inventory of our Armed Forces.

The main point we would like to emphasize primarily is our trust in our government, who exhibits a firm willpower in promoting national end products based on domestic design. We believe that we will make our mark in major future projects and realize our government’s determination in this direction by synthesizing the know-how and experience of main contractor companies with our technical background.

Defence Turkey: It seems that under the leadership of the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology the electric commercial and passenger car development projects have been gaining momentum and in parallel this market in Turkey has been growing every day. We know that your company has indigenous solutions in this area as well. Could you briefly evaluate Turkey’s breakthrough and the capabilities of your company in this area? 

We are closely monitoring our government’s steadfast efforts in creating an indigenous product in the automobile segment with a national brand that can compete in international markets. Focusing on an electrical drive system is a indeed a proper approach As we all know, the market for passenger cars and commercial vehicles running on ICE is dominated by major brands in the automotive industry. Therefore, aiming at the electric vehicle market with a continuous growth trend is a real opportunity for countries like us who are a little bit late in the market entry. Today, we experience no deficiencies in developing a vehicle that would perform on the roads. We have the necessary infrastructure for implementing self-proven sub-systems.

When it comes to electric vehicles we shall admit that there is a long way ahead of us en route to develop critical sub-systems such as electric motor, battery, inverter, power control system and battery control system. We believe it would be unfair to expect a single company to accomplish it all by itself due to limited resources. In our opinion, the collaboration of companies specialized in sub-systems would create synergy through a proper strategy.

As Hexagon Studio we have been working on electric vehicle projects with our own engineering resources. The individual work packages of these projects are financed through TÜBİTAK R&D incentives. At present, we are currently running on-road tests on our prototype vehicles. We are ready to serve in developing embedded software for vehicle control system and power control system where we believe we have strength.

Further to that, thanks to our company’s independently owned structure we believe that Hexagon Studio is a proper candidate to assume tasks to be assigned by our government in the design, development and sub-system integration with regard to the national electric vehicle.

Defence Turkey: Where do you see the position of Hexagon Studios in the defense industry in the next decades? 

Since 1980s, Turkish Defense Industry had made its mark on major projects with its willpower to increase local content ratio and manufacture indigenous products through national resources. Many new product development projects in various platforms were launched in line with the requirements of our country. In this aspect, we, as Hexagon Studio were assigned as the engineering design subcontractor within our capabilities in some of these projects, and gained experience accordingly.

We would like to emphasize that we are ready to assume responsibility in the indigenous product design and development projects that will minimize Turkey’s foreign dependency in the future. We have the determination to be diversified without losing our focus on R&D. We are committed not only for performing mechanical or electromechanical design, but also producing a sub-system that we developed and maintaining its sustainability in the field. It is worth noting that our Facility Security Clearance Certificate and Production Permit reveal our infrastructural readiness in this context.

 Defence Turkey: Finally, is there any message you would like to convey to the readers of Defence Turkey? 

Once again, we would like to underline our determination in providing engineering assistance to national prime contractor companies through indigenous products with a focus on unique design and thus reducing foreign dependency. We believe it to be the only way by which we can increase our export of technology based innovative products. It would be most appropriate to assess this process as a total engineering mobilization based on innovation. As Hexagon Studio, we are always ready to do our part in this mobilization