The holistic approach: bringing stakeholders together in the development of electric powertrains – 23/12/2020
FluxSys was founded in 2013 by electric drives expert, Dr John Reeve. Having initially formed the company as a consultancy, he identified the need for a software package to manage the development of electrified powertrains and set about bringing this to market as a commercial product.
“There’s a common theme across all sectors that powertrains are electrifying, but the current design and engineering tools at the conceptual levels don’t work for everyone within the supply chain,” he comments. “There are lots of specialist stakeholders – motor engineers, power electronics engineers, transmission engineers and so on – and it’s generally acknowledged that systems engineering is the way to manage that.”
Known as Concept EV, the company’s software is designed to help engineers and managers across these different disciplines to collaborate more effectively. It provides a holistic framework for specifying, evaluating and refining electrified powertrains from the concept stage through to validation.
FluxSys applied to the APC’s Technology Developer Accelerator Programme (TDAP) to help commercialise the package, securing over £100,000 of grant funding, along with access to specialist support from industry experts. This has enabled the company to take Concept EV from a spreadsheet-based prototype to a fully validated software package, with its own brand and a well-defined marketing plan.
“TDAP has taken us a quantum leap forwards,” comments Reeve. “The matched funding is an enormous help for a small company. The process has helped us to set the right direction and independent verification gave us the confidence that we were doing the right thing. Also, the expertise that the APC brought to bear has been hugely useful – some of the experts in the gateway reviews were people we wouldn’t have got access to on our own.”
As part of its support, the TDAP process provided advice on how the company could protect its intellectual property for a software product where traditional patents don’t apply. The programme helped FluxSys to establish a name, logo and trademark for the software package, as well as working on strategic management of the project.
“We put together several different Business Model Canvases that really helped us to understand our market,” comments Reeve. “These showed us that the market is actually rather bigger than we first thought and it’s made up of a lot of much smaller occasional users, for whom powertrain engineering is not necessarily a core task.”
The software product, now created in concept form, provides an intuitive software package with a straightforward interface that could be used without specialist knowledge. It’s designed to allow quicker, more efficient product development, with reduced requirements for physical testing and less risk of re-design. The end goal is to help engineers push ahead with new concepts that will improve the performance, efficiency and cost effectiveness of electrified powertrains.