Role of cloud based simulation tools in design and manufacture of electric vehicles

The rise of electric vehicles poses new engineering and business challenges for the automotive companies. Some of the major challenges faced by EV start-ups include timely validation of innovative vehicle concepts and arriving at the right battery pack design that meets the optimum trade-offs between weight, cost and battery performance. These technical problems are supplemented with the need for faster time to market and accelerated product development to beat competition.

This article explores how cloud based simulation tools can help EV companies adopt a collaborative simulation led approach towards product development.

How simulation tools help EV battery design

Battery pack design is THE most critical part of EV development, as the vehicle is designed around the battery pack. Multiple parameters like battery chemistry, cell selection, capacity, modularity, weight and placement of the battery pack(s) are central to the overall vehicle architecture, and companies need to make the optimum trade-offs between various factors to achieve desired performance.

In order to finalise battery parameters, multiple aspects of battery behaviour such as battery life (affected by cyclical and calendric aging), cost, external environmental factors as well as load cycle of the vehicle etc need to be carefully examined. The simulation tools provide readymade virtual test benches for companies to estimate battery performance and vehicle performance for set parameters against different driving cycles.  

Also Read: Additive Manufacturing for Product Development and Rapid Prototyping of electric powertrain

How simulation tools help during the EV design phase

Vehicle design requires efforts in creative design and engineering design.

Immersive visualisation capability offered by simulation tools help OEMs validate the creative design in a digital environment. Simulation also plays a critical role to virtually validate vehicle performance on the road. This is all the more important in the case of EV development as it requires solving multi-disciplinary challenges in mechanical, electronics and electrical engineering. EVs are high voltage systems that run on current drawn from a high energy density battery. The entire electrical system including cabling, wiring harness and connectors need to be designed to cater to a high voltage system. Additionally, electric motor running at high RPM in an EV makes its NVH requirements distinct from ICE vehicles. Simulation tools provide specific libraries to the help the EV OEMs analyse and estimate vehicle performance and safety parameters of multiple configurations virtually, thus cutting down the time as compared to a sequential approach.

Overall, the EV design approach has to be very comprehensive and collaborative. OEMs need to work with the powertrain component manufacturers and Battery pack supplier right from early design stage to come up a good and efficient vehicle, rather than putting together off the shelf components. Cloud based solutions enable easy collaboration and exchange of information between different stakeholders.

How simulation tools help during the EV manufacturing phase

Once the vehicle prototype is ready, EV start-ups take their designs to manufacturing stage. This requires planning the entire manufacturing set up including assembly lines, layouts, arranging stations, number of people required etc taking into consideration the future scale-up plans based on market assessment.

Simulation tools can help simulate the overall manufacturing layout, validate assembly process plans, help the OEMs assess multiple ‘what if’ scenarios and their impact on overall through put. Modelling the behaviour of manufacturing line in digital space also helps the OEMs identify potential bottlenecks in the manufacturing line, arrive at Make vs Buy decisions well before putting any physical plans in place.

Once the manufacturing setup is in running stage, ‘manufacturing operations management’ modules offered by simulation tools help control processes like scheduling, sales and operations planning, and ensure the productivity of the overall system.

Final Thoughts

Cloud based simulation tools are leveller technologies available for EV start-ups that can help them compete with legacy automakers and shorten the learning curve for new product development. Collaborative workflows and early validation allow the EV companies compress the overall product development time while meeting budget constraints.

Note – This article has been written based on the opinions expressed by Mr Rupesh Khopade (Dassault Systemes India) and Dr Deb Mukherji (Omega Seiki Mobility) during Dec 2020 webinar on ‘Accelerated EV Product Development with Simulation Technology’, organised by EVreporter in association with VIAS Corp India. To view the recording of the event, please visit our YouTube channel. VIAS team can be reached at msewak@viascorp.com

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