INDUSTRY FOCUS Automotive Supply Chain

Convergence of technologies in the

automotive industry By Dominique Scheider, Industry Manager Auto & Tire EMEA at Rockwell Automation


or years urban citizens have been unhappy with their mobility experience: too much traffi c causing long transportation times, too much noise, poor air quality and limited parking options, to name but a few problems. Then, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the order to stay at home completely reshaped cities, forcing us to reconsider the way we live and do business. We’ve seen a growing enthusiasm for car sharing, cycling and light e-mobility. We’ve seen a vote for zero emissions, a growing market for EV-PHEV cars and a preference to work from home regularly. The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the EU’s CO2

-reduction obligations

and the rapid shift to e-mobility, poses a real concern for major car companies and Auto-T1 ecosystems. To survive, these manufacturers need adaptability and fl exibility provided by new technologies.

Disruptive technologies In research and development, with people working from remote locations, there are fewer opportunities to get together for proper collaborative innovation. Luckily, Virtual Reality (VR) and Digital Twin simulations can help, and by using real-time 3D models multiple users can access their designs and work together, sharing ideas and testing concepts. Equally, implementing a new idea in a virtual model is less risky than trialling it directly in the real world. Many businesses are already well along this road, and the advantages they’re seeing are causing them to completely revise their return-on-investment calculations for such strategic investments. In production control for a long time now car plants have operated using the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) control system architecture. But as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) becomes more pervasive, there’re real-time scanning and data collection processes in place. This constant stream of data not only enables predictive maintenance, but it helps operators make critical decisions more quickly and more accurately. Even in remote assistance, Augmented Reality (AR) helps employees share real-time instructions and guidance without having

28 June 2021 | Automation

to be physically present. When a remote specialist can see exactly what the fi eld engineer is seeing, they can off er precise, step- by-step advice, and adapt to any peculiarities specifi c to the job in hand. Rockwell Automation partnered with PTC to provide access to its FactoryTalk InnovationSuite Vuforia Chalk – a collaborative AR remote assistance tool that off ers virtual training.

A look into the future Ten years from now, disruptive technologies like these will have re-shaped the automotive industry, and we expect four major trends: 1. New vehicle architectures Recently, Tesla began producing the rear chassis of the Tesla Model Y using Giga Press at its factory in Fremont, US. Growing trends towards electric vehicles and autonomous driving are changing the requirements of vehicle interiors. New materials, including composites and complex alloys, are becoming available, opening new manufacturing opportunities.

2. Mobility as a service Leading manufacturers will soon be developing and producing vehicles on a large scale but with a minimum of platforms, sometimes even sharing a platform with competitors. These platforms will be designed to support low-emission technologies (ZEM/ PHEV) and provide advanced electronics and software for an autonomous driving experience. This demands many sensors in and around the car as well as connectivity. Our ICT MagneMotion conveyor, for example, is a perfect fi t for electronic assembly.

3. New regional brands Smaller manufacturers specifi c to certain countries or regions will be developing vehicles for their markets. In some cases, these will employ the platforms of the larger companies. In some other cases, much smaller plants will be used, while importing all the necessary parts. These automotive micro plants will be a continuation of today’s globalisation trends, relocating jobs and being promoted by local governments. Whether using a micro or a giga factory, our Connected Enterprise approach off ers scaleable IT solutions to help you grow your business. 4. Full traceability of battery and car components

When it comes to lifecycle issues and for the security of passengers, traceability is critical. It is essential that you can prove that the battery pack in your EV has eco certifi cation and that it respects corporate social responsibility (CSR) requirements – from the mine to the car. To this end, Rockwell Automation is collaborating with partners on the European Green Deal set up by the European Parliament.

Digitalisation will also make supply chains

more adaptable and robust. And imagine city vehicles that transport both passengers and provide last-mile delivery for goods? That’s the eff ect of big data, connectivity and the IIoT creating a total convergence of technologies.


Rockwell Automation

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