Hyundai Motor Group (the Group) is opening a $400 million Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center in Singapore (HMGICS) set to be completed by the end of 2022. Located at the Jurong Innovation District, the 28,000 m2 center will act as an open innovation lab for the Group’s future mobility research and development, with the aim of revolutionising the future mobility value chain.
“HMGICS is a major step forward for Hyundai Motor. The facility is the first of its kind in the world. It will pave the way for more Korean companies to invest here, partner with local suppliers and SMEs, and collaborate with our universities and research institutes,” said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
“Singapore’s goal is to have all our vehicles run on cleaner energy by 2040, in line with our Paris Agreement commitments. We hope this will open up new growth areas for our economy, and create exciting jobs for Singaporeans,” he continued.
“Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center in Singapore will strive for ‘Human-Centered Value Chain Innovation for a Mobility Paradigm Shift.’ We will offer products and services tailored to customers’ needs,” said Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Euisun Chung. “I am confident the innovations that spring from HMGICS will shape our future global society for the better and contribute to the progress of humanity.”
In future, customers will be able to customise and purchase vehicles online using a smartphone, which will immediately start production using Hyundai’s on-demand technology. The customers can then watch their car being manufactured at HMGICS. Once the car is ready for delivery, it will be transferred to the 620-meter-long Sky Track where customer can test drive the vehicle.
The center will also act as a test bed for a human-centered intelligent manufacturing platform with small scale EV production facility on site. The facility will utilise the latest ‘Industry 4.0’ smart technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. The logistics and assembly lines within HMGICS will be highly automated to establish a safe and efficient work environment. The Group will also test versatile systems that produce multiple models, to respond efficiently to fast changing market environments.
The collaboration will go beyond the Group and into the Singaporean innovation ecosystem. Singaporean universities, startups and research institutes, including Nanyang Technological University, Singapore – the first local academic research partner – will be able to collaborate through the open innovation lab.
“Hyundai is a strategic partner in our effort to address future mobility needs through innovation and advanced manufacturing technologies. The Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre will introduce important new capabilities in areas such as electric vehicles and urban air mobility, and create new opportunities for Singaporeans. This will complement the vibrant base of companies that are involved in the development of autonomous driving and electrification technologies,” said Dr. Beh Swan Gin, Chairman, Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).
Dr. Mark Cross of Ultraseal International explores the role of vacuum impregnation when implementing zero waste, zero defect and continuous improvements in hybrid and electric vehicle manufacturing.
Fast-cycle times increase throughput for both single and multi-part processing.
With the world focused on finding sustainable, low-carbon solutions for travel, the move to hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and battery electric vehicle (BEV) adoption is well underway.
According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, EV sales (mild hybrid, full hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full battery-electric vehicles) are expected to surpass internal-combustion-engine (ICE) vehicle sales by 2030, taking 51 percent of the market, with BEV and PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) categories accounting for 25 percent of total vehicle sales. However, 82 percent of cars will still contain an ICE powertrain, with PHEVs, HEVs and mild hybrids all using internal combustion engines alongside their electric powertrain.
Automotive manufacturers are under pressures from many sides. On the consumer side, there is a sharp drop in confidence in diesel due to the introduction of clean air zones, some of which are already in force, and a ban on internal combustion engine vehicles in the UK by 2035.
Meanwhile, governments around the world are tightening up on automotive emission legislation. In Europe, there are increasingly stringent CO2-emission regulations. In China, efficiency is paramount, with their ever-stricter Corporate Average Fuel Consumption (CAFC) and New-Energy Vehicle (NEV) regulations testament to that.
To meet these regulations and consumer needs, car makers are gearing up to launch a wave of new electric vehicle (EV) models during 2020. Many EVs on the market in recent years have been targeted at high-end markets with a price tag to match. However, 2020 will see the launch of EVs which are much more familiar and accessible to the average driver, including the MINI, the Vauxhall Corsa, the Fiat 500 and the Volkswagen ID.3 and e-Up! being just a few to mention.
There’s no doubt that significant advances have already been achieved in hybrid and BEV manufacturing in recent years. However, while these vehicles offer a greener alternative during operation, it is increasingly important that the engineering and manufacturing process behind them is also environmentally sustainable.
The Role of Vacuum Impregnation in Automotive Manufacturing
With vehicle weight having an adverse effect on battery usage, hybrid and BEV manufacturers are increasingly looking at ways to reduce overall vehicle mass. The use of structural die cast components can help – especially if manufacturers opt to substitute materials, such as steel, with lightweight materials like aluminium. By manufacturing drive and powertrain components, such as electric motors, from die cast aluminium, car makers can further reduce vehicle weight. In turn, battery range can be extended for BEVs and HEVs, while reducing vehicle emissions for the latter as well.
Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, (MTM), the new joint-venture between Mazda Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation, has announced an additional $830 million investment to incorporate more cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to its production lines and provide enhanced training to its workforce of up to 4,000 employees.
Total funding contributed to the development of the state-of-the-art facility in US is now $2.311 billion, up from the $1.6 billion originally announced in 2018. The investment reaffirms Mazda and Toyota’s commitment to produce the highest-quality products at the facility. It also accommodates production line enhancements made to improve manufacturing processes supporting the Mazda vehicle and design changes to the yet to be announced Toyota SUV that will both be produced at the plant.
The new facility will have the capacity to produce up to 150,000 units of a future Mazda crossover vehicle and up to 150,000 units of the Toyota SUV each year. MTM continues to target up to 4,000 new jobs and has hired approximately 600 employees to date, with plans to resume accepting applications for production positions later in 2020.
German multinational conglomerate ThyssenKrupp recently renewed its partnership with Changzhou National Hi-Tech District (CND), in Changzhou, representing its fifth investment in the Chinese city in five years.
ThyssenKrupp decided to move forward with an additional investment of US$200 million to build a global automotive electronic power steering (EPS) system facility in the district. As one of the world’s top 500 firms, ThyssenKrupp is the result of the merger of Thyssen and Krupp and has established its leadership in the steel refining sector, as well as the automotive parts and elevator manufacturing sectors.
With a focus on the high-tech manufacturing of automotive parts, the German conglomerate invested 25 million euros five years ago to set up ThyssenKrupp Steering System (Changzhou) Co., Ltd.
The conglomerate’s fifth investment in Changzhou will focus on the R&D and production of the world’s most advanced automotive EPS systems, which will vastly reduce the energy consumption of electric vehicles, giving drivers and passengers a better experience, while empowering unmanned driving technologies. Despite the negative effect that the current international economic situation and the COVID-19 pandemic are having on international economic cooperation, ThyssenKrupp remains upbeat about the prospects in China.
ThyssenKrupp’s manufacturing facilities in Changzhou have delivered increasingly exciting results, evidenced by sales from the Changzhou facilities growing 48.9 percent year on year in 2017, followed by a growth rate that advanced 85.9 percent in 2018 and 36 percent in 2019. ThyssenKrupp Presta Steering Asia Pacific Chief Operating Officer Chen Min commented after the signing ceremony that thanks to CND’s favorable business environment and the five investments in Changzhou over a five-year period, China promises a brighter future for the company.
The registered capital of ThyssenKrupp’s manufacturing facilities in Changzhou has reached approximately 900 million yuan. Chen Min said: “Looking forward, Changzhou’s facilities will become our largest steering system manufacturing base around the world and their combined annual sales are expected to double to some 5 billion yuan in three to five years.”
IHS Markit has downwardly revised its forecasts for global light vehicle sales and production as the impact COVID-19 impact has depressed demand.
According the new analysis, global light vehicle sales are now forecast to be 69.6 million units this year in the wake of the pandemic. IHS Markit forecasts a similar decline for global light vehicle production, falling to 69.3 million units.
Auto sales forecast to drop 22.0 percent, with risk for further deterioration
Impacts to global auto demand in the wake of COVID-19 have rapidly progressed to severity levels higher than the 2008-2009 recession, and significant uncertainty around prospects for a meaningful recovery remain. Global light vehicle sales in 2020 are now forecast to drop to 69.6 million units, 22.0 percent lower than in 2019, with risks to the forecast still skewed to the downside.
“The pandemic remains a clear and present danger to the autos sector, with months of uncertainty expected to cloud hopes for global recovery prospects,” said Colin Couchman, executive director, global autos demand forecasting at IHS Markit. “The expected cycle of decline, stabilisation and recovery for autos varies by market, reflecting variations in containment strategies and policy responsiveness,” he said.
In recent weeks, Mainland China is seeing green shoots of recovery, while much of the rest of the world remains in lockdown. The IHS Markit forecast for Greater China sales in 2020 sees volume at 21.4 million units, a drop of 15 percent from 2019 levels. Though government incentives could help underpin a more orderly recovery profile, these are not yet indicated. Nearly all dealers are back to work and there are signals of an uptick in showroom traffic, but consumer confidence remains fragile. We may see a first-in, first-out phenomenon in China, and auto demand could bottom out midway through 2020 and begin to recover in the second half of the year. In 2021, volume could recover to 23.2 million units, based on current forecasts.
In Europe, COVID-19 lockdowns remain firmly in place for Italy, Spain, France and the UK, though show signs of easing in Germany. Prior to the pandemic, Europe had already faced uncertainty on the CO2 fleet target timetable and UK and European Union trade talks. Europe will see mixed recovery cycles, as a result of local restrictions and varied economic support and stimulus. Planning is further plagued by varied containment restrictions across the region, and recovery strategies are a work in progress. The forecast is for Europe to see sales fall 24.6 percent to 15.5 million units.
North America is forecast to see sales drop 26.7 percent y/y in 2020. In the U.S. a consumer-led recession looks inevitable for 2020 and autos face a bleak demand slump. There is no national consistency on rules relative to sales activity or duration for stay-at-home orders; there remains risk of another increase in infections, which could result in another wave of state or local-level restrictions, changing the dynamic again. IHS Markit expects that the known monetary and fiscal measures are not enough to prevent a collapse in auto sales, and in 2020, the U.S. market sales forecast is 12.5 million units.
Production expected to reflect demand levels
Affected first by stay-at-home orders in effort to contain the virus and then by expected weak demand, global light vehicle production is now expected to drop to 69.3 million units in 2020 – a 19.6-million-unit decline from 2019, according to the latest IHS Markit forecast.
Though production remains essentially shuttered in Europe, North America and South America, China has resumed. For shuttered regions, automakers are developing production re-start plans, factoring in production/capacity implications relative to instituting social distancing, various virus testing options and providing personal protective equipment (PPE). Global automakers can take best practices and lessons learned from re-starting in China to other markets, though are still restricted by local economic restrictions and consumer demand.
The primary driver of the latest outlook for Greater China includes delayed and sluggish resumption of operations in the Hubei province. Output is forecast to drop to 20.9 million units in 2020, compared with 24.7 million in 2019. Further, for many European OEMs in China, the comprehensive spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe may create shortage of key components and bottlenecks in China production. Similar risks for Japanese OEMs in China exist as well, as facilities for semiconductors and other components have been shut down in the ASEAN region in recent weeks. Despite modest improvement in the pace of production in the summer, demand is expected to remain low given the broader global macroeconomic conditions.
In Europe, expectations for declines in production are broad-based, impacting essentially all OEMs in the region as plants have been shuttered to comply with mandated lockdown measures. With regard to restarting production, a mixed picture is emerging with some plants resuming production in late April and others extended to early May – all under a fairly slow, methodical ramp-up scenario. The deterioration in the macroeconomic outlook and the broad COVID-19 containment measures have resulted in material reductions in the demand outlook. Production is forecast to drop to 15.9 million units, compared with 21.1 million in 2019.
In North America, IHS Markit forecasts further deterioration relating to the COVID-19 crisis and its impacts on U.S. auto sales. The 2020 forecast reflects a nine-week shutdown across the region with production for most plants expected to resume beginning the week of May 18. April production is projected at roughly 4,300 units, marking the lowest monthly production level since 1945, following the end of World War II. Production is expected to return at a gradual pace with reduced shifts and continue to ramp-up through the second quarter of 2020. Further, the forecast reflects manufacturers utilising summer shutdowns to assess inventory and demand, making additional plant adjustments to ensure worker safety and resuming maintenance and retooling efforts where needed. The latest IHS Markit forecast sees North American production dropping to 12.2 million units, from 16.3 million in 2019.
UMW Holdings Berhad has contributed essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be distributed to several Malaysian hospitals tasked with the screening and treatment of COVID-19 patients.
A total of 15,000 disposable headscarves, 10,000 gowns and 3,000 boot covers, all of which were produced internally at the Toyota Boshoku UMW manufacturing plant in Bukit Raja, Klang, will be distributed to hospitals, where PPE are essential in keeping healthcare workers safe. In order to distribute the PPE effectively, 7,000 disposable headscarves, 7,000 gowns and all boot covers will be delivered directly to the Ministry of Health, while the remaining 8,000 disposable headscarves and 3,000 gowns will be disbursed via NGOs such as the St John Ambulance of Malaysia.
Previously, on 15 April 2020, UMW Holdings had distributed 3,000 face shields to the Pusat Perubatan Universiti Malaya, Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz UKM and Jabatan Kesihatan Kuantan, Pahang. The Group’s staff continues to produce the face shields internally in Shah Alam, targeting a total of 10,000 pieces.
UMW Holdings have also contributed blood pressure monitors, oximeters and stethoscopes to Hospital Sungai Buloh, besides previously collaborating with various reputable NGOs, such as MERCY Malaysia and Yayasan Food Bank Malaysia, to provide financial and livelihood support to various communities directly affected by the pandemic. Furthermore, UMW Holdings is part of the GLC Disaster Response Network, contributing ventilators and other vital medical equipment. In total, UMW Holdings Berhad has contributed RM1.3 million in aid to help fight the effects of COVID-19 on Malaysians.
Amid the global economic slowdown in 2019, and the current COVID-19 pandemic, global vehicle sales forecast 2.5 percent fall in 2020 instead of the previously predicted 0.9 percent drop compared to 2019 (Moody’s Investor Service).
Here’s a roundup of the latest developments happening in the automotive manufacturing industry in Southeast Asia.
Predicts that sale of domestic vehicles will drop 6.7 percent to 940,000 units in 2020
Extending of closure: Temporary suspensions of Thailand production operation in Samrong, Ban Pho, and Gateway facilities will continue until the end of April
Honda Automobile Thailand announced the suspension of completely built-up (CBU) operations in its vehicle production plants in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya and Prachinburi provinces from March 27 until April 30.
Halted production at three automobile and engine plants in Chonburi province temporarily from April 1.
BOI has approved Mitsubishi’s 5.48 billion baht ($167 million) electric and hybrid vehicle production plan project to renovate existing production lines at a plant in Laem Chabang Industrial Estate
Auto Alliance Thailand which makes vehicles for Ford and Mazda, and Ford Thailand Manufacturing has also announced they will be shuttering the factory for the time being.
Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade has forecast that most automakers will experience partial shortages during this time of crisis and sourcing from other markets would be difficult due to familiarity of technical standards of Chinese parts
Vietnam’s industrial production growth could drop 2.3 percent due to reduced imports of parts from China (VinaCapital)
According to Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA), sales of members decreased 26 percent to 31,908 in end of February due to the impact of Covid19.
Vietnamese government has issued several incentives in the form of tax breaks, delayed tax payments, and land-use fees for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Fitch Solutions forecasted the country’s automotive industry to grow by 0.4 percent this year to 371,345 units, lower from its previous projection of 7.4 percent, due to negative impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak.
According to figures collected by the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID), sales across all segments—passenger cars, light commercial vehicles (LCV), and commercial vehicles—are down by 31 percent in January 2020 compared to the prior year. Overall, vehicle sales have fallen by 16.2 percent compared to the same period in 2019.
The Covid-19 crisis has delayed the rollout of the government’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernisation Program, which aims to replace aging PUVs with more environmentally friendly Euro 4-compliant light commercial vehicles.
Honda Cars Philippines Inc. has shut down its production plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna province. But, automobile sales and after-sales services will continue through Honda’s regional network.
Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its five dealers to roll out a next-generation Showroom, DENDO DRIVE STATION which features solar power system and vehicle to home (V2H) equipment.
Malaysia has more than 20 manufacturing and assembly plants that produce passenger and commercial vehicles, as well as two-wheelers.
National Automotive Policy (NAP) 2020: incorporates three new advanced technology elements—Next Generation Vehicle, Mobility as a Service and Industry Revolution 4.0 and focuses on three strategies—for value chain development, human capital development as well as safety, environment and consumerism.
The following are the biggest beneficiaries of the NAP:
Perodua has purchased a total of RM43.5 billion worth of components from local suppliers, including RM5.4 billion in 2019, and targeted to spend RM6 billion for 2020.
UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd’s Bukit Raja plant is equipped with automation, skilled manpower and the capacity to align with the government’s vision, with further investment to introduce more completely-knocked-down hybrid cars in the future.
Car sales have come to a stop since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was imposed by the government on March 18 and vehicle sales are expected to plummet in March and April. The automotive industry has been grounded to a halt with “nothing really moving”, according to Datuk Aishah Ahmad, Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president
Car production plants and after-sales services have also been shuttered during the 28-day MCO.
Total industry volume (TIV), which covers the sales of passenger and commercial vehicles, fell 5.3 percent or 2,249 units to 40,403 in February against the previous month due to delays in new model launches and the negative impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on consumers’ sentiments.
Sales volume for March 2020 is expected to be lower than February 2020 following restrictions due to the MCO, according to MAA.
The country is also bracing for a possible recession and dented consumer sentiments.
Covid-19 is pushing Indonesia’s automotive total industry volume in 2020 to 2008 levels (Globaldata)
According to Indonesian Automotive Industry Association (GAIKINDO), domestic vehicle sales volume in March 2020 declined by 20 percent as compared to February 2020: revised 2020 vehicle sales projection to 600,000 units
Honda Prospect Motor (HPM) will suspend car production at its factory in Karawang, West Java for two weeks starting from April 13, 2020
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Indonesia (HMMI) has pledged to donate 50,000 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and coveralls, worth Rp 8.2 billion in stages for medical workers.
PT Suzuki Indomobil Motor halted its car production in Indonesia for two weeks (April 13 to 24) at three factories in Cakung, East Jakarta, Cikarang in Bekasi and Tambun in West Java, in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Toyota Motor temporarily shut down production in Indonesia (from April 13 to 17), while subsidiary Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd suspended work from April 10 to 18.
Nissan Motor Corp. will shut down manufacturing operations in Indonesia amid declining vehicle sales in the country.
Hyundai Motor Company is establishing a Mobility Global Innovation Center in Singapore (HMGICs) to accelerate its innovation efforts and transformation into a smart mobility solution provider. The new 28,000 sqm innovative lab will be located in Singapore’s Jurong Innovation District and is set to be completed in the second half of 2022.
Suzuki Motor Corp.recently announced that its subsidiary in Myanmar, Suzuki Thilawa Motor Co. Ltd, will construct a new car plant in Myanmar. Scheduled to start operations from September 2021, the new plant will conduct welding, painting, and assembly of automobiles, and will be located at an industrial park located in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone.
Nikkei Asian Review has reported that several Chinese brands such as Soueast Motor and GAC will accelerate local production targets in Myanmar.
WE NEED YOUR INSIGHTS!
We would love to hear from you, our readers. We will use these insights in our series of articles on the impact of COVID-19 in the manufacturing industry.
When do you expect the lockdowns to end in your countries/regions?
What automotive manufacturing challenges are you currently facing?
During this period of lockdowns and regional quarantines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what manufacturing strategies are you planning to implement when we come out of this outbreak?
Do you know of any other developments we might have missed here?
Alex Teo of Siemens Digital Industries Software talks about the current automotive manufacturing trends; their collaboration with VinFast; and the impact of COVID-19. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
Alex Teo is the Managing Director for Southeast Asia at Siemens Digital Industries Software. In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, he discussed the trends happening in the automotive manufacturing industry right now, how these trends have changed the requirements from manufacturers, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, and their collaboration with VinFast.
WHAT TRENDS ARE HAPPENING IN THE AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING SPACE RIGHT NOW?
Alex Teo (AT): Overall, the automotive manufacturing sector is expected to continue its rapid journey of transformation. Global competitive intensity will also rise, as manufacturers in China and Vietnam expand their attention beyond domestic markets. Technological advances—including interactive safety systems, vehicle connectivity, and self-driving vehicle technology, among others—will continue to drive development.
In particular, two trends are leading the way in automotive manufacturing. On the one hand, autonomous vehicles are expected to become mainstream soon, with some estimates projecting that up to 15 percent of all vehicles sold worldwide will be autonomous by 2030. For automotive manufacturers, the rise of autonomy also comes with a new premium on agile development cycles, shorter production runs of a wider array of vehicle types, and new partnerships and collaboration across the supply chain. The new autonomous vehicle ecosystem includes new chip, software, sensor, and systems-oriented technology companies, in addition to the traditional manufacturers and their upstream partners. Meanwhile, automakers must still maximise revenue from existing product lines and appropriately balance R&D spending to refresh these lines today while investing for a likely radically different future.
On the other hand, growing efforts to fight climate change in the region are also likely to drive an increase in demand for electrification in vehicles. Government regulations, such as Singapore’s recently announced plans to incentivise electric vehicle adoption, will drive significant shifts in consumer demand. To capitalise on this demand, car-makers must be able to develop and produce electric vehicles with adequate range, fast-charge capabilities, and multiple design variants in each vehicle segment. Achieving all this with the same (or lower) cost of ownership as conventional vehicles requires bringing innovations and engineering efficiency that has been unheard of in the automotive industry – without risking safety, reliability, and quality.
HOW HAVE REQUIREMENTS FROM AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURERS CHANGED?
AT: Across the region, trends in automotive manufacturing are largely being driven by governments, through policy and regulatory initiatives, as well as end-consumers, whose preferences continue to shape the market. Automotive manufacturers will have to tap on digital technology and software-driven solutions to balance these needs while maintaining profitability.
Regulations arising from the need to go green will likely require manufacturers to better understand both the performance of their final products, as well as the sustainability of their supply chain. Aside from emissions data of the finished vehicle, manufacturers also need to assess the environmental impact of their operations throughout the value chain. At the same time, evolving regulations relating to autonomous vehicle development will require that automotive manufacturers are able to ensure the safety of passengers, pedestrians and property.
A lot of this can be addressed with digital twin technology, which will allow automotive manufacturers to simulate and test at much greater scale, and lower cost. This will allow them to uncover in greater detail the performance of their products, as well as gain visibility into their product lifecycle.
HOW DOES INDUSTRY 4.0 IMPACT AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING? WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES?
AT: The car of the future will be connected, working seamlessly as part of a larger, intelligent mobility network. It will be able to communicate with other vehicles, devices and smart roadway infrastructure. As every vehicle becomes a source for receiving and transmitting bits of information, key concerns for consumers, governments and manufacturers alike will include factors such as cybersecurity and energy efficiency. As interconnectivity between vehicles and systems grow, automotive manufacturers will have to work with a large range of other technology partners to provide a seamless customer experience for their products.
Similarly, Industry 4.0 brings unprecedented connectivity to the product lifecycle, while allowing manufacturers to innovate at lower cost, step up efficiency across the supply chain, and reduce their impact to the environment.
However, manufacturers—especially in various parts of developing Asia—should also focus on upskilling their workforce to fully realise the benefits of a digital factory. While new technologies possess great autonomy, humans must provide direction and control—and apart from overseeing technology, they are needed to gather, compare, analyse and apply data. Implementing Industry 4.0 technologies without knowing how to interpret, manage, and act on the insights leaves businesses with just a buzzword that has no real applicable value. There is a need for organisations to develop talent strategies, as well as build up staffing and training plans to meet the changing needs in terms of skills, job description and organisational models of the companies.
Siemens Digital Industries Software addresses this issue through initiatives such as its Technical Competency Hubs, one of which was launched in Penang in 2019, the only such facility in Southeast Asia. It is part of Siemens’ efforts to support Industry 4.0 development efforts with countries in the region. The hub will also serve as a platform for Siemens to help companies, especially SMEs, begin their digitalisation journey in order to meet the needs of the new economy.
HOW WILL THE TREND TOWARDS ELECTRIC VEHICLES IMPACT THE AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY IN ASEAN?
AT: Undoubtedly, automotive manufacturers in the region will need to adapt their production capabilities to accommodate these changes and trends. As the ASEAN region grows in importance as an automotive manufacturing hub for the world, businesses here will have to cater to these changing trends.
More importantly, however, businesses need to recognise that the shift towards electric vehicles is just one trend in a long line of many. Consumer demand is always shifting—and at an ever-increasing pace. Instead of concentrating on one trend, automotive manufacturers in ASEAN should focus on becoming more nimble and agile, which will allow them to capitalise on the pace of change in consumer preferences, especially amidst growing uncertainty in global markets.
For carmakers, the ability to analyse real-time road data should improve the efficacy of sales and marketing, while digital design and manufacturing can raise productivity in a dramatic way: big data simulations and virtual modelling can lower development costs and speed up time to market. That should resonate with customers conditioned to the innovation clock speed of consumer electronics, such as smartphones or laptops.
COVID-19 PANDEMIC: WHAT HAS BEEN THE IMPACT IN THE AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY, AND WHAT LESSONS CAN BE LEARNED FROM THIS?
AT: It is difficult to assess definitively the impact of COVID-19 on the automotive manufacturing, or any other, industry in Asia at the moment, given that the situation is still developing, and is expected to persist for quite a while more.
What we do know is that there is now a pressing need for manufacturers to pivot their operations to become more innovative and agile, so that they are able to quickly capitalise on new trends, or leverage technology to become more efficient. For example, capabilities such as additive manufacturing may allow manufacturers to minimise the impact of supply chain disruption, as it allows for a much larger range of complex parts to be built onsite, while also reducing the need for tooling. Manufacturers need to take this period of downtime to upgrade their capabilities, so that they can fully realise the positive effects from when the economy recovers.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR COLLABORATION WITH VINFAST. WHAT WERE THE COMPANY’S CHALLENGES AND GOALS, AND WHERE DID SIEMENS COME IN TO HELP ADDRESS THEIR ISSUES?
AT: VinFast had big goals. Before its 335-hectare plant in Hai Phong was established, there was no Vietnamese brand for passenger cars. It wanted to be competitive both domestically in Vietnam and globally right from the beginning, and relied on Siemens’ expertise to utilise the latest technology. This resulted in a closed-loop manufacturing system which uses digital twins of the products, the production, and the performance of production and product. The fully digital factory was built in 21 months—50 percent faster than usual—and is designed to be easily scalable for future expansions.
VinFast uses the comprehensive offerings from Siemens that combines Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software such as the Tecnomatix portfolio with Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM), through the new harmonised, holistic portfolio Siemens Opcenter, to realise lean manufacturing across all phases, and with Totally Integrated Automation for all automation, including robots, conveyors, presses and milling machines.
This holistic approach has increased the speed and flexibility in development, ensured high global standards in production, optimised the manufacturing process, and made the entire plant future-proof for further expansions and new business models.
VinFast also works closely with Siemens Digital Industries Software to implement a fully functional digital twin. Developing new cars and scooters, planning the new plant, and finally producing with the help of digital tools creates a detailed virtual image, the digital twin. The digital twin creates new insights, thanks to the combination of physics-based simulations with data analytics in a fully virtual environment. This makes it possible to realise innovations faster and more reliable, while also requiring significantly fewer real prototypes. Even more data are created when the product is being produced or a plant begins operation.
These performance data of the real production and of the real product can be collected, analysed, and fed back into the development cycle. Here, they help VinFast to improve and optimise new products and processes at an early stage.
The automotive sector is facing its biggest existential crisis since the 2007-2009 financial crisis with 97 percent of light vehicle (LV) manufacturing plants in Europe and North America temporarily shut down, says GlobalData.
Calum MacRae, Automotive Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “In Europe and North America, GlobalData’s latest estimates show that some 2.5 million LVs have been removed from production schedules at a cost of $77.7bn in lost potential revenue – if it is assumed the stoppages last at least up until the end of April.
“This time, the threats are not the one-dimensional threat to demand precipitated by the financial crisis. Supply chains are affected and workforces are affected. It is challenging to manufacture vehicles and components without endangering a workforce. Safe manufacture, if possible, can only be achieved at a reduced capacity.”
Efforts to suppress the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), with social lockdowns widely implemented affecting 20 percent of the global population, have decimated vehicle demand overnight.
MacRae added: “In response, 168 out of 173 LV manufacturing plants in Europe and North America have called a halt to operations for varying amounts of time during March and into April. Additionally, production stoppages are not limited to North America and Europe, the virus is roiling the industry from Detroit, to Dusseldorf to Durban.
“What’s more, the shocks will ripple through the supply chain with supplier plants also being furloughed. It really is an unprecedented crisis, the in terms of its speed and scale. The auto sector faces its biggest existential crisis since the financial crash and subsequent recession of 2007-09.”
Here’s how 5-axis machines are providing manufacturers the necessary flexibility that is indispensable to customers today. Article by Heller.
The manufacturing industry has continually grappled with the notion of creating products faster, better and cheaper. But the advancement of manufacturing technologies come with its own set of challenges that manufacturers have to deal with in their quest towards more-efficient and cost-effective manufacturing of high-quality products.
For example, the aerospace manufacturing industry has to continually evolve to ensure cost and weight savings, while dealing with the use of fibre composites and difficult materials, including titanium alloys or Inconel. The developments in aerospace designs are resulting to aero-engine parts with the highest demands on dimensional, shape and position tolerances.
In the automotive manufacturing industry, chief among the challenges now are the increasingly shorter innovation cycles, growing model diversity, and intense cost pressure. Automotive and parts manufacturers dealing with systems such as small, two-cylinder engines to the V12; from the light-duty passenger cars to heavy duty trucks; all the way to components for powertrains, drivelines and chassis; and engine blocks, cylinder heads, transmission housings, crankshafts, camshafts, etc.—are struggling to ensure minimal part costs, reduce idle times, maximize productivity and flexibility of their manufacturing systems, and maintain high machine availability and reliability.
Meanwhile, flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to manufacturing parts for the energy industry, where small batch sizes, high part diversity, and manufacturing on demand are the norm. Manufacturers catering to this sector need to have a high degree of standardisation, increased efficiency, high precision, high availability, and shorter setting times when it comes to their machines.
Scalability, Efficiency and Easy Integration
Now more than ever, machine tools should empower users with scalability and efficiency, and enable easy integration into flexible manufacturing systems. Sturdy machine engineering, profound process experience, comprehensive milling expertise—these are the basic characteristics of Heller machine tools. Since the 1980s, the company has expanded its machine portfolio of proven 4-axis machining centres with 5-axis machines. Despite their varied and versatile applications, all machines share the typical Heller genes of quality, productivity and reliability in day-to-day production.
With the introduction of the F series in 2009, Heller opened a new chapter in terms of the process-secure 5-sided and simultaneous 5-axis machining. The fifth axis of the F series is provided by the tool and the machines can either be equipped with swivel-head or fork-head kinematics. The series has been designed especially with those users in mind who need to accomplish a wide range of tasks on a single machine.
Meanwhile, the premise with the C series of machining centres is combined processing, since these machines do not only provide powerful milling but also turning capabilities. This machine provides economically efficient cutting data with workpiece rotations of up to 1,000 RPM for performance-oriented pre-machining and finishing true to the final contour. The swivel head or fork head and the high-speed rotary table enable hassle-free horizontal and vertical turning operations of outer and inner contours.
The modular MC 20 machining centres are ideally suited for integration into flexible manufacturing systems and for highly productive series production of light-duty automotive components, and are also available with direct loading. In standard design, they feature four axes, but they can also be equipped with a fifth axis provided by the workpiece as an option. The compact machines in modular design are scalable and can be linked to an automated manufacturing system at any time.
The latest machine development, the HF series, is the logical expansion of Heller’s product portfolio in the 5-axis range of machines. These highly productive and flexibly applicable machines provide great ease of use and are available with pallet changer or in table design. Contrary to the C and F series, the fifth axis of the HF series is provided by the workpiece. Rigidity is guaranteed due to the robust cast machine bed combined with a weight-optimised steel machine column.
At the core of the dynamic drive concept are the ball-screw driven linear axes equipped with anti-friction guideways. The NC swivel rotary table equipped with two direct driven rotary axes maintains its rigidity even under high loads due to a counter bearing combined with a YRT bearing. In short, the HF is optimally equipped for the exacting requirements of modern production processes and therefore the ideal machining centre for the manufacture of complex components.
In addition to the specific light-duty applications of the 4-axis and 5-axis machining centres and the possibility of integrating them into flexible manufacturing systems, the three series—F, C and HF—can be combined with workpiece or pallet automation without any problem, offering a wide range of options in terms of workpiece and tool management. As a result, all Heller 5-axis machining centres can be perfectly integrated into any specific manufacturing environment, thus offering the necessary flexibility that is indispensable to customers today.