Digitalisation in the automotive industry

A blog post by Ileana Lupsa - 18/05/2020

Digitalisation is often associated with disruption and as the world rapidly and dramatically changes, an automotive revolution is imminent!

Businesses have perceived digitalisation as risky and have therefore been adamant to not adopt it fully without extensive information on how it can impact their cash flows and day-to-day processes. However, the benefits, in the long run, make a stronger case for its acceptance. By adopting advanced digital engineering capabilities, companies can focus on innovation and produce clean, efficient and safe vehicles.

Digitalisation transitions prototypes from the physical world to a completely digital environment – enabling fast and intuitive product creation as the market demands dictate. Is the physical testing of prototypes still a prerequisite for building a safe vehicle or will simulations be trustworthy enough? A model-based environment takes a multi-physics & multi-fidelity approach to analyse how product, services and infrastructure systems and sub-systems interlink. The simulation environment brings the models to life, acknowledging the boundary conditions in an operational context for determined use cases.

Understanding to what degree we can move to a fully digital environment and revolutionise the way we assure future products and services also means using Immersive and Visualisation Environments as having the advantage of driving early attribute validation and deeper co-creation across organisations and supply chains. This fundamentally helps to unlock new product engineering creativity and speed through synchronous communication across stakeholders. However, grasping how powerful the immersive technology truly is and identifying the key opportunities might be a game-changer for the automotive industry, if harnessed correctly. The question is if the UK is well-placed to lead the adoption of immersive technologies or are the barriers too challenging?

It’s imperative to create a fusion between the UK best-in-class product engineering capabilities and advanced digital tools to deliver future complex products. However, to do this successfully requires a holistic view on technology, process, assurance and skills to define and generate global-leading advantage.

Perhaps Artificial Intelligence holds a major key to a comprehensive digital future? Machine learning applied to engineering and operational data then used in early design stages for better product decisions would give the UK a competitive edge by improving the productivity of companies. The future might see a shift in how engineers use advanced complex algorithms to allow AI to make better decisions earlier in the product development process.

So how do we ensure that digitalisation is perceived through a positive yet realistic lens?

Today the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) and the Institute of Digital Engineering (IDE) kicked off Future of Technology Series -Digitalisation: The transformation of engineering. The IDE is an industry/academic organisation that aims to drive the of use digital innovation to accelerate the UK’s engineering capability;  positioning it as a global leader in this area. Industry strategic alignment is at the forefront of IDE’s activities by engaging with UK-based OEMs and their supply chain early and frequently to determine the best approach to improve the automotive product creation with the aid of advanced digital instruments. Using new digital engineering capabilities to inform, enterprise decision-making has the power of revolutionising the creation processes of products and services. The IDE also leads the delivery of the Automotive Council’s ‘Advancing Digitalisation’ Mission, with the objective of transforming the discipline of engineering to improve agility, fidelity and efficiency, resulting in improvements in productivity and global competitiveness for the UK. The Spokes community at APC brings together industry and academia to share best practice for the development of low emission propulsion technologies with IDE leading the Digital Engineering and Test Spoke.

This week-long series will comprise of daily 90 minute webinars containing a keynote presentation, three short presentations and a Q&A panel. This series aims to cover the new challenges the automotive sector faces, and explore the opportunities it can embrace to enhance their current capability.  It will also give some insight into other sectors who may face similar challenges and yet potentially be ahead of the game using these digital tools. The discussions will start with a cross-sector look at how different sectors are using digital tools to accelerate their productivity. Gaining a wider perspective from the challenges faced by other segments and how they use the technology to their advantage might help to determine if the automotive industry is in the slow lane or perhaps ahead of the curve.  This is followed by sessions on Modelling and Simulation, Artificial Intelligence and Immersive Technology. The series promises to pose thought-provoking questions each day and it will conclude with a final session on the view of digitalisation in the future and if its adoption means that UK can stay globally relevant in these radically changing times.

You can register for the Digitalisation week FOT series here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/advanced-propulsion-centre-8129003472