ISMR June 2022 - Page 18


Adaptable production systems for the automotive industry

Fluctuating demand ; supply bottlenecks ; customised products and the ability to produce economically , even in the face of dynamic changes , poses challenges for the automotive industry and its suppliers . The ‘ Software-defined Manufacturing for the Automotive and Supplier Industry ’ ( SDM4FZI ) project is developing solutions for fast , flexible and efficient production . Thirty companies have come together to pool their expertise , led by Bosch with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology ( KIT ) and the University of Stuttgart as scientific partners . The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs is funding the project with 35 million euros .
“ The goal of the SDM4FZI project is to decouple software and hardware to flexibly plan , control and change everything from individual elements of production systems to entire factories . This should enable automobile manufacturers to switch more quickly between models and products and to produce a wider range of alternatives ,” explained the University of Stuttgart .
The basis for maximum adaptability is the complete separation of production system hardware and the controlling software . Software-defined manufacturing ( SDM ) works with digital twins i . e . virtual images of the existing hardware , which can be used to automatically derive , test and distribute the appropriate software . This saves development time , resources , energy and costs .
The software-defined manufacturing method used in SDM4FZI was developed by the Institute for Control Engineering of Machine Tools and Manufacturing Units ( ISW ) at the University of Stuttgart , and Bosch . The project began with joint preliminary work and has now been initiated by the ISW and the wbk Institute of Production Science at KIT , within the umbrella framework of the Mobility of the Future Innovation Campus ( ICM ).
The University of Stuttgart , which is represented by a total of four institutes in the SDM4FZI project managed by the Institute for Control Engineering of Machine Tools and Manufacturing Units ( ISW ), focuses on the two SDM core technologies : the Reference Architecture Model and Production OT ( Operational Technology ). In particular , the scientists at KIT are focusing on the design of software and hardware in modern , digitised production .
“ In particular , we are investigating how production versatility can be increased by a targeted decoupling of software and hardware , i . e . how this can be adapted to changing framework conditions ,” explained Professor Gisela Lanza from the wbk Institute of Production Science at KIT . Central to this is the virtual mapping of components and systems in production using digital twins , and their interaction with digital images of products and technologies along the entire value chain .
The wbk team is also investigating the extent to which quality control for complex manufacturing processes can be supported by the separation of software and hardware and the integration of functional models . Researchers at KIT are also involved in robotics and handling at the Institute of Materials Handling and Logistics Systems , and at the Institute of Anthropomatics and Robotics - Intelligent Process Automation and Robotics , as well as with cloud integration and the connection to Gaia-X at the Institute of Applied Informatics and Formal Description Methods . n

Bumper weight savings with hot stamping

The hot stamping of high-strength aluminium alloys makes it possible to reduce the weight of vehicle parts by 40 % while maintaining their characteristics . This has been demonstrated in research work and subsequent industrial tests carried out jointly by Mondragon Unibertsitatea ( a knowledge supplier ), Fagor Arrasate S . Coop . ( a supplier of hot stamping lines ) and Batz S . Coop . ( a tool manufacturer ).
The research work was carried out on the bumper of a Mercedes Benz E-Class to show the application for the automotive industry of this innovative technology .
“ The replacement of parts and structures traditionally made of steel by others made of aluminium will reduce the weight of vehicles , which will cut down fuel consumption and the emissions of polluting gases or increase autonomy ( for electric vehicles ),” commented Spanish stamping specialist , Fagor Arrasate .
In this regard , 6xxx and 7xxx aluminum alloys are emerging due to their lightweighting potential and high specific strength . Forming consists of solution heat treatment ( SHT ), quenching and age hardening . Forming is usually combined with the quenching phase inside the forming die in one go , using cooled tooling .
“ To optimise the hot stamping line , a wide variety of process parameters were studied such as the effect of different SHT temperatures and times ; different transfer times ; pressing forces ; cooling times ; lubrication conditions and types of age hardening ,” added Fagor Arrasate .
“ Tests , in which more than 150 parts were hot-formed from AA7075 and AA6082 aluminium alloys to optimise a wide range of parameters and configurations , have shown that it is possible to reduce the weight of the bumper by 40 % without affecting its safety
WATCH characteristics by using these hot-stamped aluminium alloys ,” it concluded . n
The bumper is inset .
18 | sheetmetalplus . com | ISMR June 2022