As consortium leader with 17 partners, automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler has launched the AgiloDrive2 research project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The aim of the three-year project is to develop an agile and digitalized production system complete with modular product concept for innovative electric motors. The AgiloDrive2 project will also focus on ways of making electric motor production more flexible, sustainable, and financially compelling on the basis of data-based production technologies, agile process chains, and intelligent control architectures. “Schaeffler is a technology leader in the field of e-mobility and is characterized by a high level of production experience,” says Dr. Jochen Schröder, Head of the E-Mobility Division at Schaeffler AG. “As consortium leader, we bring our long-standing expertise as a pioneer in e-mobility to the table and are driving the project forward decisively with strong partners.
Digitalization and automation are key to the sustainable factory of the future and generate opportunities for us and our customers along the entire value chain.” The aim, on completion of the project, is a seamless and fast transfer of the findings from AgiloDrive2 to electric motor production at the Bühl location – the headquarters of the Automotive Technologies Division – where a state-of-the-art, world-leading primary plant is currently under construction for electric motor production. The project was preceded by an 18-month collaboration with the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT), which was funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics, Labor, and Tourism.
Agile production for Schaeffler electric motors
In terms of technical features and depending on the type of electrified powertrain used, electric motors can vary considerably in their topology, for example with regard to winding type, installation space, torque, continuous output, and operating behavior. Schaeffler offers electric motors across all degrees of electrification for hybrid modules, hybrid transmissions, and all-electric axle drives with a wide output range extending from 20 to over 300 kW. “We are responding to the variety of versions and inconstancy in quantities with an agile production method, which we intend to develop and validate mutually in the AgiloDrive2 project,” says Thomas Pfund, President of the E-Motors Business Unit at Schaeffler.
The aim is thus to develop a versatile production system, which follows a product/production co-design principle and will promote a close cooperation between product system and production system development. “Instead of rigid production lines, we will be looking to highly flexible, digitalized, and efficient technology modules, which are easily scalable, permit flexible configurations and interlinking, and can be established on a software basis.” Standardized machine connections, hardware and software interfaces, and cross-manufacturer communication standards should assist in accommodating the rising complexity and permit the rapid integration of systems in accordance with the “plug and produce” approach. A modular machine structure permits the reuse of production equipment in an efficient and sustainable way. Digital twins will permit efficient production planning and accelerated commissioning, while AI solutions further increase product quality, and digital qualification methods facilitate and expedite employee instruction.
AgiloDrive2: Strong partners from industry and research
The AgiloDrive2 research project, with a three-year duration and total finance package of 33.7 million euros, is being funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), within the framework of the funding guideline “Digitalization of vehicle manufacturers and supplier industry,” and is supported by the project sponsor VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH. Schaeffler is guiding the project as consortium leader and has overall responsibility for the research activities. 17 other partners operating in industry and research are participating alongside Schaeffler: 4D GmbH, Braun Sondermaschinen GmbH, Carl Zeiss Industrielle Messtechnik GmbH, e-mobil BW GmbH, FormiKa GmbH, Gehring Technologies GmbH + Co. KG, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Koob Testsystems GmbH, KUKA AG, LTB Bachofer GmbH, Magnet-Physik Dr. Steingroever GmbH, pro-beam systems GmbH, SCHUNK GmbH & Co. KG, Siemens AG, STAHL GmbH & Co. KG, TRUMPF Laser GmbH, WAFIOS AG.