Merging Real & Virtual Worlds In The Automotive Industry

  • Monday, 04 September 2017 02:30

In recent years, automobile manufacturers, large or small, have begun to realise the benefits of digital technologies, and how to leverage them. By Bisheng Liu, vice president, digital factory services, Siemens

Southeast Asia is the fifth largest automotive market in the world, behind China, United States, Europe and Japan. Over the last two years, total sales and production of motor vehicles within the region have been on the rise, and it is set to outpace all other regions of the world this year. According to BMI Research, total vehicle sales in ASEAN will grow 8.1 percent in 2017, which is more than double the sales growth rate of 3.7 per cent projected for Asia.

Efficient Processes

The region’s combined gross domestic product of US$2.4 trillion, population of over 600 million and growing middle class are some of the key aspects contributing to the growth of the automotive industry. Countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines are projected to experience rapid increase in car sales, and this will in turn drive higher demand for faster and more efficient car production processes among manufacturers.

With improvement of economies, customers can afford to demand for products that would suit their personalised needs. This is no different for cars, as car owners now look for more customisation options for their engines, upholstery, colours, and more.

Hence, it is becoming even more important for today’s factories to leverage on technologies that would enable them to enhance production processes while saving on costs. In recent years, automobile manufacturers, large or small, have begun to realise the importance and benefits of digital technologies, and have started exploring the benefits of integrating the virtual and real worlds.

Digitalisation In Automobile Manufacturing

Digitalisation is a major trend and innovation driver, creating completely new business and growth opportunities for companies. It is about the interaction of the virtual and real world, and is the key to increasing productivity, efficiency, and flexibility.

By adopting the right digitalisation technology into their current processes, manufacturers can achieve faster and more flexible results. This in turn would enable them to cater more specifically to individual customer needs, respond far more rapidly to new market demands, and even develop complete new business models to enhance productivity.

Take for example, automotive manufacturer Volvo Cars. It was able to halve its engineering costs by using a software solution to plan and simulate its production lines.

Separately, Maserati equipped its factory with technologies that integrated product design to services. As a result of this integration, development time was shortened by 30 percent, while the overall time-to-market was reduced from 30 to 16 months. And the output of cars has been increased threefold , despite up to 70,000 possible combinations of versions, colours and other configuration options. These examples demonstrate how today’s manufacturers are combining the virtual and real worlds in their production lines to enhance efficiency.

The Digital Enterprise

To draw on all the benefits of digitalisation, businesses must first achieve an end-to-end integration of their data across the entire value chain. This requires the integration of industrial software and automation, the expansion of communications networks, security in the area of automation and the use of business-specific industrial services.

Software such as the Digital Enterprise Suite enables companies to shift towards digitalisation. From product design, production planning, production engineering, production execution to services, integration and digitalisation of the complete value chain is possible.

The result is a digital copy of the value chain, known as the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimisation in a completely virtual world—before committing any resources in the real world. The connection of the virtual and real worlds leads to shorter time-to-market as well as greater flexibility, quality, and efficiency.

Partnerships As An Enabler Of Growth

Digitalisation is a concept that has grown widely popular in recent years, not just for the automotive industry, but for many companies across diverse industries including printing, machine tool and metalworking. However, while many manufacturers across Southeast Asia are keen to understand more about digitalisation and how to implement the technologies into their existing production setup, many of them lack the knowledge and expertise required to do so.

To meet this need, a digital factory manufacturing design engagement model supports companies in their digitalisation journey through comprehensive planning. One such example, called ZerOne.DesIgn, launched in Southeast Asia last year. The model includes assessing the company’s current manufacturing setup, identifying their existing challenges or pain points, then proposing technology solutions that would help optimise manufacturing processes and better manage operations on a facility-wide level.

Opportunities Abound With Digitalisation

Southeast Asia’s automotive industry is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, it is getting more competitive with the world becoming more global. That is why it is important for manufacturers to leverage on digital technologies to overcome challenges such as stiffening global competition and consumer demand for individualisation.

With digitalisation, the highly complex nature of automobile production processes can be significantly more manageable. And with the right direction aided with the right support, manufacturers today have all they need to work towards their digitalisation goals.

Rate this item
(0 votes)
  • Last modified on Monday, 04 September 2017 02:37
  • font size

APMEN

 

 

As Asia's number one English metalworking magazine, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN) is a must-read for professionals in the automotive, aerospace, die & mould, oil & gas, electrical & electronics and medical engineering industries.

Connect with us: