Today, “electromobility” is one of its keywords. We are talking about GROB, a top player who broadened its product range significantly by moving into this area. As a turnkey supplier in the system business, GROB already has an excellent reputation in the market, but with its technology, electromobility is calling for a new way of working and thus for changes in approach. And the company is ready.
Electromobility is gaining importance at an increasingly fast pace and transformations in vehicle drive technology have already begun. The markets have responded to these changes in various ways. GROB, with its inherent strength and experience of making highly productive manufacturing and assembly lines, has already squared up to this new challenge.
After several years in installation and development, this new line of GROB’s business is now well established. Indeed, four years ago, in response to the increasingly progressive pace of technological change with vehicle powertrains, GROB established a Research and Development team that focuses solely on electromobility. In collaboration with the automotive industry, engineering processes and methods for the series production of high-efficiency electric motors and extremely compact battery modules with a high power density are being developed and trialed on over 2,500 m² of space.
The choice to win
To accelerate the set-up and development phase, GROB consolidated its knowledge of winding and inserting technology and, in early 2017, acquired a renowned mechanical engineering partner for the production of electric motors – DMG meccanica. To complete its integration and optimize its structure, DMG meccanica has undergone the final step of the acquisition and been renamed GROB Italy Srl in January 2018.
The cooperation between GROB and DMG meccanica was a win-win situation for both companies. GROB took this step in order to strengthen its many years of research and development work in the field of electromobility and DMG meccanica has found in GROB a strong, globally-oriented partner for series production.
A place to design and manufacture
To expand these technologies further investments are planned, like the new plant in Pianezza in Italy which is currently under construction. The transfer of the GROB Italy plant from Buttigliera Alta to Pianezza is part of a long-term development plan which intends to make Pianezza a place of reference regarding the design and manufacturing of special machines and automation solutions for the production of electric motors. To support this important technological development, GROB has set up the new plant in Pianezza as a highly functional center, with an area of 24,000 m², of which 4,800 m² are dedicated to production and 3,300 m² to offices and services. It is intended to pool the whole production cycle from conceiving an idea to its practical implementation and with its expertise as a turn-key supplier, recognized by the automotive industry on many occasions, GROB has already mastered all the processes and technologies required to offer system concepts for reliable and cost-efficient series production.
One of the core processes in the production of an electric motor is the process of guiding the copper wires into the stator. GROB covers all known processes here, including wave winding technology, the hairpin process and fan-coil technology. GROB Italy Srl also covers the winding/inserting technology as well as the needle winding. The design of electric motors is aimed at a high power density and good efficiency. This requires very precise machines and systems. The challenge lies in the manufacture of process-stable and precisely timed systems, since very tight tolerances are specified to achieve performance. For battery cells currently round, prism and pouch cells are used. These are assembled to form a module. Planning parameters such as degree of automation, cycle time and output quantities are individually adapted to customer requirements. New processes, materials and technologies are researched and tested with regard to their suitability for use in the automotive industry. A very varied mechanical engineering is required for module assembly (cell assembly, module assembly, packing assembly). This means that GROB can market and operate all the production processes required in the automotive industry.
Vattenfall and the City of Amsterdam, together with grid owner Liander, the infrastructure competence center Elaad and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, launched Flexpower, the largest public smart charging network for electric vehicles in Amsterdam.
This innovative solution enables faster charging, maximal use of renewable electricity and more efficient use of the electric grid in Holland’s capital.
Operated by Vattenfall, a total of 456 charging stations with 912 charging points – a third of all charging stations for electric cars in the city – have been upgraded and connected in the Flexpower smart charging network.
«Flexpower Amsterdam is a smart network of charging stations that enables faster charging of electric cars when the sun is shining, primarily using locally generated renewable electricity from households in the neighbourhood. This lowers the need for investments in the electric grid and thus makes the solution a role model for many large cities in Europe» – says Tomas Björnsson, Head of e-mobility at Vattenfall.
Flexpower has been developed to make optimal use of the available grid capacity, by tailoring charging speeds to the electricity consumption and renewable energy production. The charging stations provide slightly less electricity during the hours that households demand a lot of energy, typically between 18.00 to 21.00 hours, and catch up by charging more at night when energy consumption is low or during the day when a lot of local solar power is being produced.
As most electric cars are charged outside peak hours, electric car drivers will benefit from quicker charging.
Electric mobility is a promise and an unknown for the European market and West nations in general. For various reasons, the e-mobility is a need and an opportunity for a Country with a broad area of potential customers like China where Atop, now controlled by IMA, intends to play a protagonist role.
Chaired by that outstanding Amedeo Felisa who until 2016 was Chief Executive Officer of Ferrari Spa and Ferrari Nv, Atop was established in 1993 and, since then, it has manufactured machines and lines for the production of wound stators and rotors of electric motors. Controlled by Charme private equity fund since dal 2017, at the end of last May the company was taken over by the Emilia Group IMA that acquired 84% of stakes and is going to make the enterprise the pillar of its diversification and control strategies in the e-mobility sector. Headquarters at Barberino Val d’Elsa, in Florence province, Atop has made research one of the feathers in the cap of its activity and develops innovative technological solutions for electric traction in strict collaboration with its customers, analysing their products to optimize inherent manufacturing. Their incidence on the corporate turnover (89 million Euros foreseen by the end of the year, +50% versus 2018) is expected to reach the 50% peak in 2019; lower is clearly the weight of supplies to traditional automotive, white goods, power-tools and industrial applications. In the course of its two last financial years, as also the financial press reported, as many as 50 workers have joined its human resources and now the company relies on 250 employees. It is not a secondary aspect, as Tuscan manufacturer’s force precisely resides in knowledge and human factor, as Amedeo Felisa in person has confirmed to Electric Motor Engineering.
Four-wheeled China: numbers
To outline the sizes of the Chinese automotive market, we should just think that, despite the 14.6% downturn versus 2018, in the only April month 1.98 million vehicles were delivered there. They have calculated sales of hybrid electric or battery models amounted to 1.3 million units in 2018, rising by 67% compared to the previous year. The local Government finances the start-ups operating in the e-mobility sector and in 2018 allocated budgets reached three billion dollars. Still institutional programmes impose the introduction of at least 30% electric models into the respective ranges to manufacturers; and 533 were the car lines withdrawn from the market owing to environmental reasons, and among them some Audi, Chevrolet and Mercedes.
The course is traced
«The investment in human resources will go on», Felisa stated in an interview, «also because some operations, despite the automation boost, are still entrusted to specialized operators. I personally try to bring as a dowry that precious capability of perceiving customers’ requirements, gained as automotive’s child». On the other hand, according to the manufacturer who in his experience heritage naturally encompasses on-board electronics and electric motors not intended for the vehicle ambit, know-how is an added-value appreciated by IMA to the ends of the takeover. «It was foreseeable that IMA’s share might grow and land in other high-potential segments», Felisa underlined, «considering the Bolognese brand’s presence in Charme operation. We have provided our partner with competences and professionalism, manufacturing lines and a branched and structured distribution channel. Last but not least, components upon design that are worth 60% of the business». The current evolution phase is completed by an enlargement of operational spaces, while the growth of activity and turnover will depend on the automotive industry’s trend, too.
In transition phase
The clarity of the industrial policy in the mobility matter is the reason why the People’s Republic of China is the main target of Atop and, consequently, of IMA. «Currently», the manager commented «we are living a transition phase on a global scale. The horizon is full electric but at present reality is dominated by hybrid and plug-in. The evolutionary course towards the full electrification has undoubtedly its sound reason for existence, especially abroad and, to an even bigger extent, in China, in the light of a variety of different motivations». Environment first, because Beijing is strenuously struggling against the atmospheric pollution, considering that, according to some estimates, its production of carbon dioxide would amount to 13 gigatons, 30% more than those emitted by Europe and USA together. Not only. The socialist State neither owns oil resources nor does it intend to depend on others to provision the necessary requirements to sustain its immense circulating fleet. «In the e-mobility ambit», Felisa commented, «Chinese players can proceed according to their own rates and rules, they own rare earths that represent a precious raw material for the production of batteries; they operate in joint venture with big western companies».
Head in Europe, volumes elsewhere
Precisely, because if on one hand the vast majority of commercial negotiations is likely to concentrate in Asia, on the other hand Europe still constitutes the adoptive country of the most innovative and advanced R&D. Therefore, «Atop aims at preserving a strong focus» on the old continent that plays a crucial role for the «technological progress», but at the same time it stakes on the Dragon to go on increasing its sale volumes. From China to Italy, the gap is not small at all. «Italy suffers from the indecisions of Fiat Chrysler», Amedeo Felisa ended, «for which electric motors have been anything but the core business for a long time. Currently, FCA seems to show more propensity for the issue, although the missed agreement with Renault has been stunning. Apart from this, the matter is convincing users to shift to electric: for instance, making available the necessary infrastructures, of complex implementation. Elsewhere, in Europe, the road is already traced, also due to incentives allocated by various national Executives. The paradox is that, astride limitations to diesel and the strong debate about electrification, customers finally remain doubtful and uncertain. And they do not buy at all. In such a complex scenario, Atop confirms to be partner of the major world players, facing ever-changing challenges with customized solutions for state-of-the-art electric motors».
The new added-value service by FAET aims at evolving its interaction with customers, mainly OEM. It is the new laboratory set up inside its Milanese headquarters, which takes part in UL DAP Program, able to execute the Sealed Tube Test for the UL Electrical Insulation System Modify
FAET’s strategic investment for the establishment of this new forefront laboratory and the participation in the Third Party Test Data Program actually offer an added-value service, in addition to core business ones. Targets are essentially two: in-house providing for the quality control of incoming materials, to achieve higher reliability certainty, and playing a protagonist role for the UL certification.
UL Third Party Test Data Program
When it comes to UL, Underwriters Laboratories Inc, the independent American organization for safety certifications that develops standards and tests for products, materials and components, often it is not clear how to operate and there is a lot of confusion on this side of the ocean. The American market is ruled by very severe regulations and any accident connected with insulation systems has a high cost for companies. In the United States, due to a matter of protection and safety, but also to stress safety in all markets worldwide, the UL certification is called to certify the compliance with strict rules.
Today FAET’s mission is simplifying the daily routine of OEM, including the manufacturers of electric motors or of other plants that need a certified Electrical insulation system in their inside: «After a certification course lasted one year, now we are a third party test Data program participant. – explained us Dario Ferrigato, Marketing Manager of FAET – It is a programme that allows us to carry out the Sealed Tube Chemical Compatibility Test per UL 1446 Standard for Systems of Insulating Materials”.
The participation in such programme allows FAET to execute tests on customers’ behalf and results are accepted by UL as if UL itself had directly obtained them, certifying the conformity to the UL 1446 standard. The successive step is the certification that UL will issue after test results. «This laboratory – added Ferrigato – joins the very few other structures in the world not owned by UL able to perform the test. It is a precious opportunity for FAET, today able to provide the market with a very high added-value service allowing the company to become a reference reality in Europe and to rise exponentially the brand recognisability».
Whoever needs to interface with UL to modify an insulation system and to test it according to their standards, can then exploit the competences, the specific know-how of FAET, its rapidity and its laboratory, yearly subjected to a re-certification audit.
Why executing the test at faet’s? Here are the advantages
The laboratory headquartered at Rozzano is unique of its kind in the SEMEA area, then the relative proximity to the structure, especially for the South area of Europe, is a logistic plus that allows avoiding travels overseas. Highlights include the possibility of interfacing with a single partner in the process of modification and adoption of the insulation system, with specific advisor skills in design choices. Besides, the availability of the materials to be tested or their easier provisioning are benefits that add to the others, permitting a saving of the time needed for the test execution.
The soup metaphor
Insulation systems inside a motor are safety systems that prevent the risk of electric shock and fire during the normal operation of the motor itself. To comply with determinate severe safety standards, the various components in its inside must have determinate chemical, physical and electric characteristics and conform to different parameters depending on the used materials.
Silvio Cattinzoli, engineer and Quality System & Technical Manager of FAET, explained us the insulation system with a metaphor that compares it to a “soup”, then a recipe that contains a multiplicity of ingredients “mixed” one another and expected to have some determinate features, both individually and in combination. The manufacturers that need to change and to add ingredients to such dish must previously carry out a test that certifies the new mix of components.
It is called precisely Sealed Tube Chemical Compatibility Test per UL 1446 Standard for Systems of Insulating Materials and consists in the comparison between an original insulation system called “Reference” and one or more systems customized by the customer and called “Candidate”, carried out in compliance with the provisions of the Standard UL 1446 seventh edition. «It is a comparison between something existing and something new or modified and it aims at assessing whether a determinate material added to the material already tested is compatible or not at chemical level. Actually, it is an electric test that ascertains the chemical compatibility». The test provides for the insertion of all components into two glass tubes, one containing the components of the original system and one with the components of the new system. The inserted elements concern the primary insulation, which divides the copper conductor with all other live electric parts, and all those components that are not specifically needed for the insulation but are present for the motor implementation. Those auxiliary components that do not constitute the real insulation must be tested to conform to determinate parameters, too. «Components –Mr Cattinzoli explained us in detail – are introduced into tubes together with copper twisted pairs that are manufactured according to specific standards and can be both coated or not coated with electro-insulating resins or varnishes. Afterwards, tubes are closed with specific flanges and stored in a oven for 14 days, at a temperature exceeding by 25° the one of the system under testing. After opening them, the electric discharge test is executed on twisted pairs, at least 10 per tube. Therefore, 10 results per tube are achieved and averaged out, the average value of the “candidate” tube is compared with the average value of the “Reference” tube. If the average calculated for the modified system is within 50% of the original one’s value, the test is passed and then that new “recipe” can be used for manufacturing the electrical insulation system under construction». It is a propaedeutic test to achieve the certification of the final product. Recalling our metaphor, the single vegetables composing it must be certified, the soup in its whole must be certified and then the entire laid table, too. What is brewing …
If with the Sealed Tube Chemical Compatibility Test per UL 1446 Standard for Systems of Insulating Materials we “modify the soup recipe cooked by uncle Tom in America”, to start instead from scratch and to create a new insulation system ex-novo, it is necessary to carry out other tests, like the full thermal aging. To create this new original recipe, the test is much more challenging, also in terms of investment, and it can last even one year and a half. «We are evaluating – the Marketing Manager ended – a further growth in next years and the unceasing innovation and evolution that will involve the new FAET laboratory, likely to result in the introduction of other tests».
«The possibility of executing the Sealed Tube Chemical Compatibility Test per UL 1446 Standard for Systems of Insulating Materials inside FAET is very advantageous because the company can rely on a very broad availability of insulation products and it is much easier to find the ideal solution for each manufacturer. Continuing the metaphor, we can compare FAET to the biggest vegetable garden in Europe to cook the perfect soup».
Established in 1965, today FAET is one of the leader European realities in the electro-mechanical market, with the primary core business consisting of insulation systems for electric motors. The company can supply any processing on insulating materials, needed for the manufacturing of windings for electric motors, pumps, generators and transformers in all insulation classes and proposes also a broad range of electromechanical components for their repair and finishing. Currently, the Group’s turnover exceeds 20 million Euros, the company exports in over 50 Countries, manages about 10,000 stocked references and in-house performs all production processes, to assure the highest quality of its products.
However, advantages go far beyond thanks to such a wide warehouse and the privileged ranking held by FAET today in Europe and in the world. «The thousands of contacts we entertain with manufacturers on a world scale – stated the technical manager of FAET – allow our customers to simplify the research of the products to be inserted, often mandatorily used in the reference insulation system, for instance because it was manufactured in the Sixties in the United States with now unavailable products in Europe and hardly found even in the United States. Relying on a partner like us, able to interface on their behalf, is then an advantageous key factor».
It is electric the motor that has shared in the building of Morgan Stanley’s Chelsea Flower Show Garden, designed by Chris Beardshaw, park situated at the core of London, winner of the Best Show Garden. ECR25 Electric vehicle by Volvo CE, electric compact excavator, shared in fact in the construction of this futuristic experiment of urban gardening, able to host about 157,000 visitors.
The machine was used to excavate the ground and to position the foundations for the main structure and the trench for tree pits and to house the central fountain. The recharge was carried out at the end of each working day, at night, using a standard domestic outlet. When fast recharges during the day were asked, the operator used the recharger on board.
«Zero emissions and the lower noise level are an absolute turning point – affirms Ahcène Nedjimi, Electromobility Specialist by Volvo CE. – Now the challenge is understanding the best way to optimize them at best for each application. The question is no longer when, or if, the shift to electromobility will occur but how quickly it will happen. We are really at the point of no return. We must reduce emissions, pollute less and build the world where we want to live».
With the introduction of thenew European security guideline according to ECE level (UNECE WP29; valid in the EU and partly in Asia), in future vehicle manufacturers will be required to verify the cybersecurity of their vehicle systems before their products can obtain type approval.
From now on, manufacturers must prove every three years that they have applied a certified cybersecurity management system which covers all stages ranging from vehicle engineering through to documentation. Using the cybersecurity management system, manufacturers must test the cybersecurity of all vehicle types, identify and document potential threats, address security-critical problems and suggest solutions, and finally demonstrably verify that these problems have been solved.
In this context, comes the launch of an Austrian product, ThreatGet, jointly developed by the AIT Austrian Instituteof Technologyand Sparx Services CE. It helps developers identify threats at an early stage, allowing them to quickly assess the associated.
This cybersecurity verification requires a modern tool which, for the first time, allows manufacturers to test their systems for ECE compliance. Peter Lieber, the founder of Sparx Services CE: «We have been working with AIT on this solution for two years and are proud that we can launch it on the market so quickly. ThreatGet offers IT system designers effective support for security procedures designed to prevent potential cyberattacks, or threats».
Set against the background of a strongly growing security engineering industry, ThreatGet is targeted at vehicle manufacturers, as well as all companies involved in analysing vehicle architectures and systems in order to issue certification.
Bosch and Daimler have reached a milestone on the way to automated driving: the two companies have obtained approval from the relevant authorities in Baden-Württemberg for their automated parking system in the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage in Stuttgart.
The two companies started developing fully automated driverless parking in 2015, and in the summer of 2017, their pilot solution in the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage in Stuttgart reached an important result: automated valet parking in real conditions, with and without drivers at the wheel, was presented to the public for the first time. This premiere was followed by an intensive testing and start-up phase. Starting in 2018, museum visitors could use the parking service live, accompanied by trained safety personnel, and share their experience. One aspect of the pilot project involved testing lighting concepts on the vehicles. Turquoise lighting indicates that a vehicle is in automated driving mode and informs passers-by and other road users that the vehicle is driving itself. The insights from these tests are reflected in the recently issued SAE standard 3134. Obtaining final approval from the the Baden-Württemberg authorities is a further major milestone for Bosch and Daimler and sets a precedent for obtaining approval in the future for the parking service in parking garages around the world.
Interested parties will be able to experience the innovative valet parking service live in daily operation in the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage without additional supervision from a safety driver.
The automated valet parking service is accessed via a smartphone app and requires no safety driver. This makes it the world’s first fully automated driverless SAE Level 4 parking function to be officially approved for everyday use.
Safety & technology From the very beginning, Bosch and Daimler’s top priority for the driverless parking service was safety. Since there is as yet no official approval process for automated driving functions that do not require a driver, the local authorities – the Stuttgart regional administrative authority and the state of Baden-Württemberg’s transportation ministry – oversaw the project along with experts from the German technical inspection service TÜV Rheinland from the outset. Their aim was to assess the operating safety of the automotive and parking-garage technology. The result is a comprehensive safety concept with appropriate testing and approval criteria that can be applied beyond this pilot project. In the concept, the developers defined how the driverless vehicle detects pedestrians and other cars in its path and reliably comes to a halt when it encounters an obstacle. They also set up secure communications between all system components and took steps to ensure the reliable activation of the parking maneuver.
The technology behind driverless parking Drive in to the parking garage, get out, and send the car to a parking space just by tapping on a smartphone screen – automated valet parking has no need for a driver. Once the driver has left the parking garage to go about their business, the car drives itself to an assigned space and parks. Later, the car returns to the drop-off point in exactly the same way. This process relies on the interplay between the intelligent parking garage infrastructure supplied by Bosch and Mercedes-Benz automotive technology. Bosch sensors in the parking garage monitor the driving corridor and its surroundings and provide the information needed to guide the vehicle. The technology in the car converts the commands from the infrastructure into driving maneuvers. This way, cars can even drive themselves up and down ramps to move between stories in the parking garage. If the infrastructure sensors detect an obstacle, the vehicle stops immediately.
The technology that allows cars to store and return energy for the net stabilization is called Vehicle to Grid (V2G). The first experimentation in Italy is in starting phase by Enel X,Nissan and RSE.
The project provides for the use of two bi-directional recharge infrastructures by Enel X, installed in the experimental micro-net by RSE, which through a special control platform allow using Nissan Leaf for the net stabilization.
The project target is testing the functions of V2G according to the habits of private users and of those who use corporate fleet vehicles. During recharge times, batteries will be used as energy accumulation systems connected to the net, able to assure advantages for the electric system and car owners.
In particular, V2G technology will allow maximising the self-consumption of renewable energy by domestic plants, optimizing the flows of energy produced and consumed locally and granting the continuity of the energy supply in case of interruptions.
The possibility of exploiting batteries for more purposes through Vehicle to Grid on one hand will permit to make use, without additional costs, of a domestic or business accumulation system and, on the other hand, to give an important contribution to the stability and the efficiency of the electric system; an instrument able to further favour the diffusion of electric vehicles in Italy.
Elemaster announces to have finalized the acquisition of 100% of GDM Electronic’s shares. This investment represents another strategic step for the realization of Elemaster’s globalization plan, according to the business plan “Vision 2020”: now the Elemaster Group’s plants are located in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Romania, USA, China, India and Tunisia.
Mr. Gabriele Cogliati, Elemaster’s President & CEO states: “I’m really proud to evidence that, in the same year when Elemaster celebrates its 40th anniversary since its constitution, we have achieved another important goal for the strategic global development of Elemaster Group. Our Company is strengthening its presence in the world and this year we will complete three additional projects: the inauguration in May 2018 of a new and larger facility in China, the opening in July 2018 of a new and state of the art plant in the USA (Duluth, Georgia) and the expansion of our German subsidiary, CAD UL GmbH, where we would like to create an European center for electronic engineering and fast prototyping”.
Mrs. Valentina Cogliati, Elemaster’s Managing Director, concludes : “This investment opens our Group to new opportunities and enables us to be identified as the ideal partner for the strategic growth and competitiveness of our Customers: we will get closer to our Clients in the Centre of Europe, achieving also new opportunities in northern Europe”.