The Future of Automotive Manufacturing is Electric

The Future of Automotive Manufacturing is Electric

One in six new cars sold worldwide in 2025 is expected to be electric and by 2040, it’s estimated that half of all new vehicle sales worldwide will be electric

Electric vehicle sales in the United States last year reached nearly 200,000, a more than 25 percent jump from 2016. In China, 770,000 electric vehicles were sold, a more than 50 percent increase from the previous year.

The growing consumer demand for electric vehicles is pressuring brand owners and suppliers to shift processes and technology to serve these changing market needs. For automakers, the race is on to accelerate electric vehicle production with smart, flexible operations and integrated automation solutions.

Accelerate your Time to Market

To claim a share of the fast-growing electric vehicle (EV) market, you need to get to market as fast as possible. You need a comprehensive production strategy. One that helps you produce vehicles quickly, at the highest quality, with minimal risk.

An integrated automation architecture lays the foundation to bring Industry 4.0 concepts to life. It helps you access the right information at the right time to make important operational decisions. It also enables easy integration of equipment into your plant and swift reaction to market demands.

An integrated architecture uses control and information systems that share a common network, control platform, data structures and design environment. A single network, for example, can seamlessly connect your plant systems to each other and to the rest of your enterprise. While common, standardized data structures can help you more easily pull data from across your operations and turn it into actionable information for workers.

On this foundation you can deploy smart technologies and capabilities that can help your EV operations run faster and with more flexibility. Some solutions to consider include:

Scalable Infrastructure: These offerings can help converge your networks, connect your plant and business systems and give your workers access to information to make better decisions. Scalable infrastructure offerings can be especially valuable when your operations are starting small or if you have time, talent or budgetary constraints.

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), for example, can reduce the burden of designing, deploying and maintaining a network infrastructure. It also can shift your network’s costs from a capital expense to an operating expense. IaaS combines pre-engineered network solutions, on-site configuration and 24/7 remote monitoring into a single contract. It uses best-in-class technologies and architectures and can help optimize the performance, efficiency and uptime of your network architecture.

Independent Cart Technology (ICT): Systems build with this technology will be a game changer in electric-vehicle production. They offer the potential of higher line speeds and reduced downtime, which can help you get to market faster.

Independent cart technology allows a brand owner to move small components, or even full car bodies, around a plant faster and more precisely than conventional mechanical solutions. This can help you speed up production in a traditional body shop or in areas such as battery cell and pack production, where high-speed conveyance has proven to be a challenge.

You can change the functions of systems using ICT with the push of a button to achieve fast changeovers. These systems also have fewer moving parts, which can reduce maintenance needs and improving uptime.

Scalable Manufacturing Execution System (MES): Individual MES applications can help you understand and manage production, without investing in a full MES software package.

The applications address specific challenges, such as quality, machine performance, or genealogy and track and trace. You can start at the machine or work-area level with a single application and minimal infrastructure requirements. You can add other applications or scale up to an integrated-MES solution as you grow production and realize return on investment (ROI).

Join us at our new Electric Vehicle Innovation Center in California to learn how you can design an accelerated production strategy and build smart, flexible operations.

New EV Innovation Center

Rockwell Automation recently opened a new 8,000 square-foot Electric Vehicle (EV) Innovation Center in San Jose, California, within its Information Solutions development facility. The center will provide live manufacturing demonstrations, hands-on trials utilizing new technology and events showcasing collaboration with industry experts and Rockwell Automation partners.

Utilizing augmented and virtual reality modeling, the EV Innovation Center provides automotive start-ups and established manufacturers an environment to learn new technologies and standards, enabling them to deliver electric vehicles to market faster, with less risk and at lower cost.

The combination of Rockwell Automation technology with partner technology is what makes the center unique. Specifically, Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, is an unmatched integrated solution that combines software from PTC and Rockwell Automation. Similarly, Eagle Technologies provides the battery pack assembly machine, and FANUC furnishes robot technologies, both integrated with Rockwell Automation technology.

Hirata, a turnkey assembly line builder, provides an assembly cell that demonstrates electric drive unit assembly and testing. Emulate 3D, Rockwell Automation’s simulation software, helps to prototype and test machines before they’re built. teamtechnik performs functional testing to confirm performance before building the drive into the electric vehicle.

“With growing global consumer demand, electric vehicle companies are challenged to meet aggressive production timelines,” said John Kacsur, vice president, Automotive and Tire Industries, Rockwell Automation. “We established the Electric Vehicle Innovation Center to expand their possibilities and get their products to consumers quickly and at the lowest possible cost, while operating more efficiently.

“It’s an immersive experience that helps customers develop and realize The Connected Enterprise — our vision for smart manufacturing that enables customers to leverage data and achieve positive business outcomes,” said Kacsur. “With over 4,000 successfully designed, installed and commissioned automotive manufacturing projects, Rockwell Automation knows how to help EV manufacturers get to market faster and better manage enterprise risks.”

Meeting Consumer Demand

Bloomberg estimates that by 2040, 54 percent of new vehicle sales will be electric. And by 2030, we’re looking at 100 percent of passenger vehicles in China and India being electric. This means that meeting the demand for EVs and EV batteries requires manufacturers to scale-up their production at an unprecedented rate.

The challenge for EV and battery manufacturers is to accelerate production at a sufficient rate to meet demand in the short term. They also need to future-proof their production operations for further inevitable innovations

Automakers need to shift to data-driven manufacturing in a highly flexible and connected environment. Manufacturers need to connect the plant floor with business systems to deliver information to drive business analytics and better business decisions. They need seamless supply chain connectivity and operation to improve cost efficiency and product quality – together with built in flexibility and scalability, to leverage emerging technologies.

Right now, leading automakers are already using smart machines, analytics and augmented reality (AR) to gain a competitive edge. At Rockwell Automation, we are pushing the boundaries to arm you with today’s smartest technologies. With a comprehensive strategy for producing vehicles quickly, at the highest quality and within minimal risk, you too can stake your claim in the growing EV market.

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