Spicer S172 series single drive axles for Class 7 and 8 vehicles are 60 lb lighter than S170 axles yet retain the component’s strength. Designed for 4x2, 6x2, and 8x2 applications up to 25,000 lb (11,340kg) GAWR, it offers gear ratios from 3.07 to
The single-drive axle can also be paired with the Dana tag axle as part of the Spicer EconoTrek tandem axle, a lightweight 6x2 configuration that offers increased fuel economy, improved performance, and reduced maintenance for heavy-duty linehaul tractors. This system is up to 3% more efficient and up to 380 lb lighter than typical 6x4 offerings.Dana Inc.
Computer vision processor
The R-Car V3H system-on-chip (SoC) offers high computer vision performance and artificial intelligence (AI) processing, targeting automotive front cameras for mass-produced Level 3 (conditional automation) and Level 4 (high automation) autonomous vehicles. The SoC is optimized for use in stereo front cameras and achieves 5x the computer vision performance of its predecessor, the R-Car V3M SoC targeting NCAP front cameras.
The R-Car V3H SoC focuses on architecture optimization for computer vision processing, enabling advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) functions from conditional to highly automated driving. It uses Dense Optical Flow, Dense Stereo Disparity, and Object Classification algorithms.
The R-Car V3H includes a dual image signal processor (ISP) that converts camera sensor signals for image creation and recognition processing. It requires a single LPDDR4 memory chip.Renesas Electronics Corp.
Excelon ferroelectric random-access memory (F-RAM) delivers high-speed nonvolatile data logging, preventing data-loss in harsh automotive and industrial operating environments. The Excelon Auto series offers 2Mb to 4Mb automotive-grade densities, while the Excelon Ultra series offers 4Mb to 8Mb industrial-grade densities. Both families are available in low-pin-count, small-package options.
Excelon Auto memory is available with AEC-Q100 extended temperature options with functional safety (ISO 26262) compliance. The Excelon Ultra series offers 108MHz quad serial peripheral interface (SPI) performance. NoDelay instant
With a strong, stable manufacturing environment expected for 2018, many companies will consider ways to enhance efficiency and productivity, boosting the popularity of Industry 4.0 – the German initiative to connect equipment with data networks to better track and monitor processes – also known as the Industrial Internet of Things (
However, the new world of online monitoring, Big Data analytics, and process optimization can be daunting, especially for smaller manufacturers that don’t have huge information technology (IT) and data departments willing to tackle the changes. Today’s Motor Vehicles recently sat down with Sascha Fischer, business manager for Siemens Industry lnc.’s machine tool business, to discuss how companies can start to take advantage of the wave of connectivity products hitting the manufacturing world.
“Everybody needs to start
First step – Examine production processes
“Identify where you spend most of your time,” Fischer says. “Start
He adds that some companies spend the most time in pre-production planning, others in production itself, and others in maintenance or post-production service. Digital technologies can improve any of those portions of the manufacturing process, so identifying where waste is occurring will tell managers where the focus needs to be.
“The first step is asking how to get transparency into a process,” Fischer says. “Connect two or three machine tools, then look for what kind of data you already have in your production process that you’re not utilizing.”
Comparing detailed, digital production data directly from machines to post-production data from measurement inspection stations or productivity counts can tell manufacturers how close their long-standing estimates are to real-world production. Such early steps will give companies a clear idea of how production processes are working, and
“Start small with one project – understand what you’re getting out of it, and expand from there,” Fischer says.
Identify what you need to know
Early data sets coming from connected machines will give manufacturers transparent processes, but they will also likely have gaps. Measuring feeds, speeds, and cycle times may not offer enough information, and engineers may want to link data to inspection reports or other systems.
“Once you have some data, you can ask, ‘Is this the right data?’ Or, ‘Am I using the data that I have properly?’” Fischer says.
This is the stage where many companies seek outside help from data experts, system integrators, or software providers. Most companies have at least one person who likes to think strategically about how to use and analyze data, Fischer says, so identifying that person and identifying him or her to be the change agent within the organization can help. Making that person the main contact for outside contractors can ensure that companies are getting the services they need, not the products a vendor wants to sell.
Automotive manufacturers and suppliers using Six Sigma or Lean manufacturing can look to those productivity champions to identify strategic thinkers, Fischer says, as those manufacturing concepts dovetail nicely with the rich, detailed data coming from connected machines.
“You need to have some dedicated resources,” Fischer explains. “Someone has to be studying this information constantly. If you have the pressure on one side to get parts out the door, you’re not spending the year you need to really understand your processes and how to improve them.”
Connected machines can produce massive amounts of data, and it’s going to take time for experienced manufacturers to understand what they’re seeing and how to use that information. The one-year timeframe Fischer mentions is how long most businesses take to see the full potential of an Industry 4.0, data-rich environment.
“We have examples of companies
A few easy-to-fix issues will likely crop up right away – machines that are more productive on one shift than another, parts that have a higher scrap rate on one machine than another, parts that burn through consumable tools faster than nearly identical parts. Those insights are helpful, but they won’t produce the big productivity gains that most manufacturers want, Fischer says.
“Grow your knowledge base every day. Use the data to identify every limiting factor,” Fischer says. “If you have a failure, is it coming from the machine? Is it coming from the program? Is it coming from a flaw in the initial design? These are the sorts of insights that you get once you move past the initial learnings.”Siemens Industry Inc.
About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of TMV and can be reached at 216.393.0271 or email@example.com.
Long shifts spent standing in one space – lifting, stretching, and adjusting workpieces – can lead to fatigue, stressing employees and potentially lowering build quality toward the end of a shift. It’s a common problem for many industries and a particularly acute one for automakers.
At BMW’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, workers are using Levitate Technologies Inc.’s Airframe, a lightweight, backpack-like exoskeleton that supports workers arms when lifting or working over their heads.
“During the initial testing and review period at BMW, I received very positive feedback from the users,” says Joseph Zawaideh, vice president of marketing and business development at Levitate Technologies. “They embraced the Airframe quickly and mentioned they don’t want to go back to working without it. They liked that the Airframe was very low profile, lightweight, and did not restrict motion.”
BMW officials say the Airframe has outperformed other systems, giving workers relief in their factories. BMW manufacturing uses 66 airframes in the Spartanburg factory, where the automaker produces X-series sport utility vehicles (SUVs) for the U.S. and worldwide export. Four other BMW plants, including Munich, Germany, are testing the exoskeletons as are several competitors.
“We get follow-up orders – this is the best feedback industry can give us,” Airframe inventor Mark Doyle says. “We’re excited to make the workers happy with the wearable Airframe.”
The Airframe exoskeleton supports the arms of professionals and skilled trade workers who perform repetitive arm motions and/or stationary arm elevation (working at shoulder level or above the head). It transfers the weight of the user’s arms from the shoulders, neck, and upper and lower back to the core through pads that rest on the outside of the hips. Doyle developed the exoskeleton in his garage in 2011 and founded Levitate Technologies in 2013. In 2015, Levitate hired Pathway, a design company, for production optimization. The Airframe is now produced at D&K engineering.
“The Airframe relieves the muscles and supports the movement sequences,” Doyle explains. “This prevents tension in the neck, shoulder, and upper and lower back.”
Since the Airframe is designed like a backpack, it can be adjusted to almost any body size with adjustable straps.
Assistance systems cannot interfere with workflow, so wearable frames must be light, comfortable, and functional. Doyle collaborated with engineers at motion plastics company igus to minimize weight in the Airframe’s design, opting for 32 plastic bushings in the exoskeleton rather than metal ones.
“The igus products are practical, robust, configurable, and the material is appropriate,” Doyle says. “It’s really easy to work with igus, their support is great. The igus bushings are great quality, operate smoothly, and have a long service life.”
Another advantage of the plastic components is self-lubrication. Greases or oils aren’t acceptable in wearable applications because they could leak onto workers’ clothes. With the exoskeleton projected to last at least 1 million movement cycles, Doyle says he expects the igus bearings to support long product lifespans.
In 2015, when Pathway joined the project, designer Arthur Deptala and others improved the Airframe, overcoming force control and adaptability challenges.
“We tested various possibilities for the design of all the rotary mechanics and have found out that igus offers us the ideal bushing solution,” Deptala says.
Inspiration for wearbles
Although BMW and others in the auto industry have begun using Airframe to alleviate muscle fatigue and allow employees to continue working over their heads for longer shifts, automotive wasn’t Doyle’s intended market. The concept came from talks with surgeons who suffered from fatigue and pain during and after long surgeries. Doctors wanted a system to relieve the stress on arms and shoulders during long and repetitive movements, such as in endoscopic and laparoscopic operations.
Surgeons who used the wearable frame during testing confirmed its positive effect on their work. An Internal Review Board (IRB) approved study demonstrated 50% reductions in fatigue in operations after 12 minutes, and 25% reduction in pain rates.
Early interest came from doctors and automakers, but other industries have gained benefits as well. Insurance claims showed hairdressers who often work with their hands above shoulder level while tilted forward, experienced high numbers of musculoskeletal injuries. An international agricultural equipment manufacturer studied use of the Airframe for painters and welders. During the study, the number of painted parts increased by more than 50%, and the number of welded joints increased by as much as 86%. The quality and duration of the work also improved.
Made in California
Due to positive Airframe feedback, Levitate officials are anticipating an increase in orders. The exoskeletons are produced for Levitate at the D&K site in San Diego, California. Production levels, measured in systems per month, are in the hundreds and in the process of transitioning to the thousands. A group of employees assembles the individual parts.
To avoid long lead times, Levitate and D&K are testing systems to increase production by 5x. Based on initial demand, the planning department estimates that thousands may have to be produced every month to keep up. When large companies complete their tests, a wave of orders could potentially arrive all at once.
A BMW employee in Spartanburg, South Carolina, uses a Levitate Technologies' Airframe exoskeleton to install underbody components on an X-series sport utility vehicle. Using dozens of plastic bearings from German supplier igus, the Airframe supports arms and shoulders, allowing employees to comfortably work over their heads for long time periods.
In 2015, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) estimated that more than 350 exoskeletons were sold that year but expected more than 6,500 exoskeletons to be sold by 2019.D&K Engineering
Typically, early January in Detroit, Michigan, offers a preview of what will be on the road within a year or two, but the 2018 North American International Auto Show posted a rare disappointment. A few automakers skipped the event entirely, and others focused their attention on cool, far-in-the-future autonomous designs that were highlighted the week before at CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
At an event that in years past had been called Detroit’s car show, automakers showed off few cars. The market prefers trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) these days, a preference made evident at Cobo Hall (see Infographic, pg. 26). Following are highlights from the show.American Honda Motor Co.
About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of TMV and can be reached at 216.393.0271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2019 Jeep Cherokee
Far from a complete redesign, the 2019 Cherokee is a mid-cycle update of a popular
2019 Ram 1500
Unlike Ford’s F-150 which has an all-aluminum body and General Motors Chevy Silverado with a steel bed but aluminum doors, hoods, and liftgates, the Ram 1500 remains primarily steel – with a 98% high-strength steel frame. Still, strategic use of lightweight materials cut 225 lb out of the 2019 model, so it should have better tow, payload, and fuel economy performance.
Acura RDX Prototype
A version of the car that goes on sale in a few months, Honda hopes the RDX Prototype will generate excitement for the new vehicle. Small crossovers are selling extremely well these days, and the second-generation RDX is showing its age. Designers say they did everything they could to highlight the vehicle’s dynamic look, including slightly angling the exterior door handles to match the curves in the body panels.
2019 Ford Ranger
Though automakers shared most of their futuristic vehicles at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, General Motors’ Hydrotec subsidiary brought the minimalistic Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS) to Detroit. Effectively a giant skateboard, the SURUS can be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, batteries, or anything else that can generate enough electricity to drive its wheels. The company is pitching it as a solution for military applications and use in disaster zones where refueling can be a challenge. It can be run in autonomous mode, or users can drop a cab on the modular frame.
2019 Mercedes G-Class
2019 Toyota Avalon
One of the few new cars on display, Toyota’s large sedan is holding up better than some compacts, but the car market is not in favor. Never a top seller, it’s doubtful that adding minor styling flair will revive interest in the vehicle, as most people in Toyota showrooms are leaving with Rav4 sport utility vehicles (SUVs).