In Germany, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has launched AgiloDrive, a project seeking to develop novel product kits and production technologies for electric motors for direct transfer to industry. The Baden-Württemberg State Ministry of Economics, Labor, and Housing is funding the pilot phase of the project with about €1 million.
Currently, electric motors mostly are produced in small numbers or with low productivity at partly automated workshops, where some processes are carried out manually, or on highly specialized but very inflexible transfer lines. Often, expert teams design and optimize certain steps of industrial development processes of electric motors, with hardly any transfer taking place to other areas, KIT said.
An electric motor for EVs, which is adapted to the installation space. (Photo: Schaeffler)
The AgiloDrive research project is aimed at developing a novel, agile production system based on modular product- and production-specific technologies.
In this way, we will enable future flexible, but still economically efficient production of various models and numbers of electric motors based on various technologies. This will allow cost-reducing scaling effects to be used for various product series and manufacturing technologies.—Professor Jürgen Fleischer, Head of the wbk Institute of Production Science of KIT
AgiloDrive is a cross-institute project of the KIT Mobility Systems Center. The project is managed by wbk, project partners are the Institute of Product Engineering and the Institute of Electrical Engineering of KIT. Industry partners are Schaeffler Automotive Buehl GmbH Co. KG and Gehring Technologies GmbH. The Baden-Württemberg State Agency for Electric Mobility (e-mobil BW GmbH) is an associated partner.
All partners will pool their know-how along the complete development process and supply and process chains.
Produced with the help of a new manufacturing technology: Prototype stator with a compact flat wire winding. (Photo: Gehring)
An agile production system based on an integrated product development process will be decisive for the economic success of our flexible approach.—Professor Fleischer
The system is capable of change and characterized by modular manufacturing elements, standardized interfaces, and scaling concepts. In this way, it can flexibly respond to changing market and technology requirements. This reduces the entrepreneurial risk, as investments can be adapted dynamically to the actual demand thanks to the modular structure and costs can be reduced over various product series and manufacturing technologies.
This will enable economically efficient integration of electric mobility in the energy and mobility transition in spite of volatile markets.—Professor Thomas Hirth, KIT Vice-President for Innovation and International Affairs
The AgiloDrive project team will work on three parallel partial projects:
An integrated product kit based on modular and robust structures and flexible development and design methods.
Necessary structures and technologies of the flexible systems.
Commercializing the production system using agile project management methods, such that findings of the research project can be transferred to the industrial scale.
In addition, partial solutions as well as the complete system for the agile product development and production process will be validated technically and economically.
Investments in production facilities must be economically efficient. For this purpose, a high utilization rate must be ensured in the long term, even if the volumes demanded by the customers for individual applications will remain volatile.—Thomas Pfund, President of the E-Systems Business Unit of Schaeffler Automotive
The results of the AgiloDrive project will be made available to industry. In this way, solution approaches will be transferred quickly to application in self-funded projects.
This agile production system will particularly enable medium-sized machine and plant engineers as well as suppliers to successfully manage the transformation process towards electric mobility and to participate in the new markets.—Dr. Sebastian Schöning, CEO of Gehring Technologies