A digital Development and Production Chain accelerates the way to build a Prototype enormously
The team of Emm! solutions GmbH managed to develop their own car in a period of just four months and to build their prototype of the “ILO 1”. The trick in the process: using web-based software, the production and development of parts for the conceptual lightweight vehicle was controlled and the design tasks were distributed across a network of suppliers. Thanks to unified digital communication across the entire process chain, numerous parts could be developed simultaneously and optimized with regard to their weight.
The State Agency for Lightweighting Baden-Wuerttemberg presents this innovation as its ThinKing for January 2018. Leichtbau BW GmbH awards this label each month to promote innovative products and services in the lightweighting sector from Baden-Wuerttemberg.
What does the mobility of tomorrow look like? The start-up Emm! solutions GmbH is tackling this difficult problem. Armin Müller, who was the project manager of the ESP system at Daimler and was most recently in a management position at Porsche, founded the company in Weil der Stadt, a city near Stuttgart. “The topic of mobility is a question of solving the transportation problem”, says Müller. Together with his team, he has worked on a new mobility concept for individual transportation: the “ILO 1” is a compact lightweight vehicle – a few centimeters smaller than the current Smart ForTwo. The prototype has space for one person. In a later version, two people will be able to be transported.
Reduced Development Time thanks to a digital Development and Production Chain
In order to implement the “ILO 1”, the main challenge for the small start-up consisted in keeping the project management and production control as lean and efficient as possible. “We wanted to grow our capabilities and know-how, but not to grow at the same”, says Müller. Here is where the Product Lifecycle Management System of the also young company Cassini Systems Europe GmbH comes into play: the entire communication with the suppliers ran over the web-based software. In the system from Cassini, individual parts or assemblies can be shared for a specific supplier, who then gets access to all of the documents stored there that are relevant for manufacturing, such as for example CAD files or exact specifications pertaining to quality, durability or the “allowed” total weight of the part. “With this data, the manufacturer can proceed directly with designing the part. Many of the intermediate steps, especially when it comes to communication, are rendered superfluous in the process. “We applied this approach in our ‘ILO 1’”, says Müller, because for him the question of how collaboration in this project could be done most leanly and efficiently was a part of the overall concept.
After the work is completed, the supplier uploads his files back into the online system and produces the part. This means that a digital documentation of the development work occurs automatically through this interface. “What is special about this system is that we could distribute many of the classical detail tasks in the design work among the suppliers, so they did not have to be shouldered by a single company and could take place in parallel.” “Through the digitalization of the process chain and development as well as production in a network of several companies, you have the ability to reduce the time-to-market. That provides an enormous value leverage,” explains Dr. Wolfgang Seeliger, managing director of Leichtbau BW GmbH. However, in order to reach the full potential, the entire process chain must be digitalized and the exchange of data must be standardized. “This opens up entirely new possibilities for lightweight construction, because in this way production and development can work more closely together in the future,” says Seeliger.
No “ILO 1” without Lightweight Construction
The design of the “ILO 1” is a great example of top-down conceptual lightweight construction. “We went into the project with a conceptual approach and asked ourselves what would be necessary in order to fulfil the challenges of mobility. Our car needed additionally to be as light as possible in order to be on the road in an energy-efficient and resource-saving way”, says Armin Müller. The topic of weight is anyway a fundamental question for the “ILO 1”, because it can only reach a maximum weight of 450 kilograms in order to get its permission to go onto the street. “We had to optimize every part with regard to functionality and make it lighter, otherwise the complete system would not have worked and we would not have been able to get under the 450 kilogram limit,” Müller explains.
„The ‚ILO 1’ is a good example of how lightweight construction in particular can be a central enabler in terms of building a car, or to rethink a vehicle or, in the case of the ‘ILO 1’, to make it practicable at all through weight reduction,” says Dr. Wolfgang Seeliger. The outer skin of the “ILO 1” consists entirely of a thin CFRP laminate. “In the ‘ILO 1’ there are many parts that we produced from CAD with metal or plastic 3D printing“, explains Müller. Since the “ILO 1” has an electric engine, the weight of the battery was also a topic. However, through efficient energy management on the software level, the developers could reduce the weight of the battery. With one battery charge, the “ILO 1” can drive up to 80 kilometers. The developers also made sure to have short distances and as little material usage as possible during the routing of the wire harnesses to reduce weight.
50 Percent less Traffic
“The ‘ILO 1’ is currently the smallest, most compact mobility concept,” says Müller. With a width of only 1.3 meters and a length of 2.3 meters, it occupies an area of only about three square meters when parking. In comparison, a normal passenger car uses an area of eight to ten square meters. “If there were only ILOs on the road, in numerous cities you would immediately free up areas. With our car there would be no more parking problems because you could use a normal passenger car parking spot to park two ILOs there – the traffic volume would be cut by half,” says Müller. The question of the vehicle weight, for example how many kilograms need to be moved in order to transport a person, plays a decisive role for the topic of mobility. With four or five transported passengers, a car is rarely fully utilized. “For example, on average, 1.1 people sit in a vehicle during rush hour. Using a normal passenger vehicle, about 1.5 tons of vehicle weight must be moved in order to transport a single person, but with the ‘ILO 1’ it is only 450 kilograms,” explains Müller. The concept vehicle would do even better if it could carry two people as passengers. The small weight of the vehicle ensures a small fuel consumption and fewer CO2 emissions.
Technology for autonomous Driving is already on Board
Right now, there are three prototypes of the “ILO 1” that all have road service approval. One of those stands in the office of Emm! solutions in the company headquarters in Weil der Stadt, and the developers continue to work on small improvements. With the corresponding programming, the “ILO 1” can also drive with a high level of automation because it already has various systems installed that help it to be aware of its environment and to move in it autonomously. For example, radar or ultrasound, cameras and a Lidar system for object recognition as well as distance and speed measurement are already integrated into the “ILO 1”.
However, the vision of Armin Müller and his team for the “ILO 1” and mobility goes much further: the vehicle should communicate and interact with its environment by means of implanted sensors and a direction system so that it can be navigated intelligently and autonomously through the city based on the current traffic flow. The developers of Emm! solutions have already made the first step in this direction with their road-ready “ILO 1.”
About Emm! solutions GmbH
The start-up Emm! solutions GmbH, based in Weil der Stadt, was founded by Armin Müller in 2015. In the beginning of the 1990s, Müller was the project manager of the ESP system at Daimler, and later had management responsibility at ZF Friedrichshafen AG and at Dr. Ing. H.c. F. Porsche AG. Currently, the team at Emm! solutions consists of nine employees that are using new mobility concepts to implement solutions for current traffic problems.
Cassini Systems Europe GmbH will be represented as an exhibitor at the Hannover Messe from 23th to 27th April on the joint stand of “Lightweight from Baden-Württemberg” (Hall 5, D46). Lightweight BW GmbH is organizing the joint stand together with Baden-Württemberg International.