StreetScooter 客戶案例

StreetScooter 客戶案例

擁抱電能,挑戰繁複,搶進電動車市場

Achim Kampker

汽車業似乎還想再挑戰更複雜的產品研發流程,現在「電動化」挑戰正式登場。

StreetScooter,一輛劃時代的電動車逐漸成形,這輛車不僅為電動化概念注入新時代技術動力,而且在設計上採群體智慧(Crowdsourced) 模式,集結了將近 30 家供應商齊力貢獻專業和創意打造而成的。

要是問汽車業高階主管哪件事讓他們徹夜難眠,以下這句簡單有力的回答應該不會讓您感到驚訝:

「它很複雜。」

基本上,幾年前在德國阿亨工業大學所進行的一項調查中,汽車業 OEM 廠商和供應商決策者即是如此表示。該調查結果公佈在 2007 年發表的《管理汽車工程的複雜性》(Managing Complexity in Automotive Engineering) 報告中。這篇報告的前言指出:「對於 OEM 廠商和第一線供應商來說,若想在多樣化管理、技術管理和流程管理領域中保持成功優勢,就要採用卓越的複雜性管理制度。」

根據該研究的定義,「多樣化管理」是指,因應不斷擴增的產品線、更快速的模型變更、更多因地制宜的車款改款,所衍生的競爭需求。快速成長正是汽車技術複雜化的主因。《管理複雜性》報告主要執筆人、阿亨工業大學教授 Guenther Schuh 表示:「今日的汽車既是電子工程和軟體工程的結合成果,也是一種機械設計。這三個技術領域必須有效整合。」

技術革新瞬息萬變,使汽車業者無論在公司內部的研發流程,還是在 OEM 廠商和供應商之間的流程等方面,均感到壓力倍增。汽車業領導大廠不斷對產品生命管理 (PLM) 解決方案投入更多經費,並不令人意外。

Schuh 教授說:「實際上,PLM 是促成複雜性管理的關鍵技術。」因此,阿亨工業大學請來全球 PLM 軟體大廠 PTC 擔任《管理複雜性》調查的顧問。

Schuh 教授又表示:「如今,汽車業似乎還想再挑戰更複雜的研發流程,業者不妨在錯綜複雜的運作中再丟入電動化挑戰。」


供應商主導的研發模式

在這場全球競相研發價格親民又容易操控的電動車卡位賽中,任何汽車製造大國都不想落於人後。或許沒有哪個國家會像德國對此感到如此急迫,畢竟在德國,汽車研發、製造和供應工業貢獻了 20% 的 GDP。

同樣來自阿亨工業大學的 Achim Kampker 教授說:「這不只是為了研發環保車款以減少對石化燃料的依賴,同時也是單純的經濟利益問題。電動車將牽動我們國家的未來經濟發展。」

Professor Kampker 又表示:「隨著運輸工具動能由內燃引擎日趨轉向電能,德國汽車製造商和供應商有責任保持競爭領先地位。這將影響到上百萬個汽車業工作。」

電動化不但使車款變得多元、技術變得複雜,也意味著整個汽車製程可能徹底革新。如今全新電動車逐漸成形,過去階層式流程,也就是,OEM 廠商從定義概念、明定專案,到監督委派給供應商的工作,已漸趨式微,取而代之的是一種可貼切稱之為群體智慧的研發模式。

Kampker 教授解釋:「這種模式是由供應商自己來推動車款的設計和製造。他們彼此合作,就像是在同一個虛擬企業工作的夥伴。」

StreetScooter 就是在這個概念下成立的實驗中心,由阿亨工業大學負責帶領這個大膽的新計畫。一開始,有 19 家德國汽車供應商參與這項計畫,其中 10 家組成一家合資企業,另外 10 家供應商則聘為策略夥伴,以借重其各自不同專業。整個團隊採用 PTC 的 PLM 工具來管理此計畫。

StreetScooter GmbH 這個商業實體的功能為協調供應商在這項電動車計畫中的分工。Kampker 教授擔任該公司的執行長。他表示:「StreetScooter 成立的目的,就是徹底改革電動車和相關研發模式。」


無包袱概念

StreetScooter 計畫的目標是要在不需要政府長期資助前提下,有效透過供應鏈合作夥伴所組成的協作網路,生產一系列穿梭都會的電動車。

Kampker 教授說:「雖然我們的計畫有很大程度受德國政府政策方向影響,不過政府並不會直接介入。『全國電動化發展計畫』(National Development Plan for Electromobility) 的目標是在 2020 年底前,讓一百萬部電動車在德國上路。我們希望能助政府一臂之力,達成這個目標。」

StreetScooter 屬於地區性的計畫,以德國和相鄰的中歐國家為主。參與這項計畫的合作夥伴大多是中小企業,而非 OEM 廠商或供應大廠。Kampker 教授指出:「這與德國以小型家族企業為重的傳統不謀而合。」

StreetScooter 將這群新生力軍放在電動車研發中最重要位置;這是一種前所未見的電動車策略。一如 Kampker 教授所說,已經推出電動車的汽車大廠始終拘泥於調整傳統內燃引擎車的設計。他表示:「將這類車輛改造成電動車的問題在於,會造成多數消費者吃不消的成本負擔,因為每部車大約要價 10,000 歐元。」

更何況,在這些早期電動車中,行駛效能和乘坐舒適性仍免不了有所遷就。光是空調系統,就對電動車電池造成極大的額外負擔。

Schuh 教授說:「我們顯然必須採行全新的無包袱電動化概念,但是到目前為止,許多概念電動車款不是強調極致行駛效能,就是專注在新奇設計上,而忽略了大眾化汽車的基本需求。」

但 StreetScooter 全然不同。這個研發團隊的目標,就是要打造能在效能、舒適性、安全性、可靠性等方面,與傳統小型車競爭的經濟實惠電動車,並透過連續生產模式帶來獲利。

實現這個概念的關鍵,正是 StreetScooter 的模組產品架構。模組與模組之間的銜接讓供應商能夠不斷改善設計,注入各自專業領域的最新創意;各供應商則按部就班地加入功能。

Schuh 教授說:「透過這項學習方式,StreetScooter 團隊不只能夠應用各種最新的技術,同時還可找到更有利的技術整合方式。」他接著說:「學習的基礎,是來自動態、跨領域地學習。目前我們正在測試一種全新形態的協同合作模式,以期訂出新的汽車研發標準。」


產品與流程的整合

這個計畫的早期目標,是要證明這種與眾不同的研發模式的價值。StreetScooter 第一款可行駛的原型車款可望在 2011 年 9 月德國法蘭克福國際車展 (International Motor Show,IAA) 中亮相。其他十款原型車款也預計於今年底正式在德國上路。

然而,儘管 StreetScooter 計畫證明了受市場青睞的潛力,不過其核心所在、並有著重大影響力的供應商協同合作模式,卻對研發流程帶來前所未見的複雜性。Kampker 教授說:「比起其他解決之道 (如果有的話),有效的 PLM 更是我們成功的關鍵。」

領先業界的 PTC Windchill 軟體提供了我們在協調、簡化 StreetScooter 參與者工作上所需的 PLM 資源。

為讓 PLM 平台上線,阿亨工業大學與 PTC 汽車業頂尖中心 (隸屬於該公司 iCenter 支援團隊) 的顧問攜手合作,共同探索該車款的使用案例,並為 StreetScooter 的設計建置基本資料模型。這包括套用和調整立即可用的車款資料結構。StreetScooter 概念的完整數位原型於焉成形,從內裝到外型,還包括汽車引擎、傳動系統、懸吊系統和輪胎。

StreetScooter 團隊在以 PTC Windchill 技術為架構基礎的 PLM 平台中,定義並追蹤供應商的存取權和在設計計畫中的角色。PLM 應用程式主要處理 BOM 和變更管理。只要一提出變更請求,所有參與人員隨即可看到設計中受影響之處。而在某一環節中的創新設計也會立即其他環節產生關聯。供應商運用 PTC Creo View MCAD 軟體便能透過視覺圖形瞭解這些效果。

所有產品資料都能在 PTC Windchill 平台中處理,無論供應商使用哪種 CAD 軟體。Kampker 教授表示:「這才是真正的多 CAD 資料管理環境,讓我們得以突破機械、電子和軟體設計之間的隔閡。目前我們正將這三個領域順暢地整合起來,以建構一部完整的車輛。」

也許更具企圖心的是,StreetScooter 研發團隊希望藉由 PLM 讓產品設計和生產決策之間緊密地整合,以期創造電動車的重大新潛力。

Kampker 教授解釋說:「在傳統上,許多汽車設計決策習慣根據批量大小來決定,換句話說,某些技術只能在達到一定程度的生產數量時運用;但是 PLM 卻能讓我們嘗試每種替代方案。」

Kampker 教授舉例證明:「我們藉助 PLM 工具證明了管狀空間架構元件的可行性。相較於沖壓鑄模零件,這種元件所需的製造成本較低。不過,到目前為止,這項技術看起來還只能用在小批量的機車製造上。」

至於這項技術對 StreetScooter 的影響,Kampker 教授表示:「運用空間架構技術應可讓這款車的價格維持在合理範圍內。」

獨一無二的研發模式

無論就哪個實際面向來看 (亦即產品、生產和流程),StreetScooter 都是獨一無二的全新車款研發模式。由於協同合作範圍極為龐大,尤其加劇其複雜性。儘管如此,參與的合作夥伴似乎都能超越這項挑戰。這份自信來自於他們明智運用了 PLM。

對此,Kampker 教授總結說:「我們已經為這項計畫紮穩根基,納入邁向長遠成功之途所需的設計和流程智慧。PLM 提供單一資料來源架構的知識庫,讓所有推動 StreetScooter 概念問世的人員都能共享資訊。」


Achim KampkerAs if the automotive product development process needed to get any more complex, now add the "electromobility" factor.

StreetScooter – a revolutionary electric vehicle rapidly taking shape – not only puts a new technological charge into the electromobility concept, its crowdsourced design blends the expertise and innovations of nearly 30 collaborating suppliers.

Ask automotive executives what keeps them up at night and you shouldn't be surprised to hear this brief, but very telling reply:

"It's complicated."

That, in essence, is what decision-makers from automotive OEMs and suppliers told researchers at RWTH University in Aachen, Germany when surveyed a few years ago. Findings were published in the 2007 report "Managing Complexity in Automotive Engineering." The executive summary puts it this way: "Superior complexity management in the disciplines of variety management, technology management, and process management is a key to ensure sustained success for OEMs and tier-one suppliers."

Per the study, variety management refers to the competitive demand to keep up with ever-expanding product lines, faster model changes, and more vehicle variations by region. Growing just as quickly is the technological complexity of the cars. "The automobile today," says RWTH Aachen Professor Guenther Schuh, a lead author of the "Managing Complexity" study, "is as much the result of electronic and software engineering as it is a mechanical design. All three areas of technology must be efficiently integrated."

In the face of such rapid varietal and technological change, the stresses on automakers" development processes – both within companies and among OEMs and suppliers – have similarly multiplied. It can be little surprise, then, that the automotive industry's leaders continue to up their investments in product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions.

"PLM is, in fact, a critical enabling technology for complexity management," says Professor Schuh. The sure evidence: RWTH Aachen enlisted PTC, the global provider of PLM software, to advise on the "Managing Complexity" survey.

"And now," Professor Schuh adds, "as if the vehicle development process needed to get any more complicated, automakers can toss 'electromobility' into the mix."


Supplier-driven development

In the race to bring fleets of affordable, consumer-friendly electric cars to the world's roads, no automotive industry-dependent country wants to fall behind. And perhaps no single nation feels this urgency more than Germany, where over 20% of GDP directly traces to automobile development, production, and supply.

"It is not just the desire to have environmentally friendly cars and reduce dependency on fossil fuels," says Professor Achim Kampker, also of RWTH Aachen. "It is a matter of pure economic interest. Our future prosperity will depend upon electric vehicles."

Professor Kampker continues: "As transportation power increasingly shifts from internal combustion to electricity, it will be incumbent upon German automakers and suppliers to stay ahead competitively. There are literally millions of automotive jobs at stake here."

Electromobility not only adds to vehicle variety and technological complexity, it also shows the potential to transform automaking processes fundamentally. For a new electric car now taking shape, the traditional hierarchical approach – in which the OEM defines the concept, specifies the project, and oversees the work assigned to suppliers – has given way to what may best be described as a crowd-sourced development.

Professor Kampker explains, "It is the suppliers themselves who are driving the vehicle's design and production. They are collaborating as peers in a virtual enterprise."

The experimental laboratory for this concept is StreetScooter, a bold new EV initiative led by RWTH Aachen. From the start, 19 Germany-based automotive suppliers have been stockholders in the project –10 of them combined as a single stockholder in a joint venture. Ten other suppliers have since signed on as strategic partners, lending their own specialized expertise. The team manages the project using PLM tools from PTC.

A commercial entity, StreetScooter GmbH, has been formed to coordinate the suppliers' work on the vehicle. Professor Kampker is the company's CEO. He says, "StreetScooter sets out for nothing less than to revolutionize the electric car and its development."


Clean-sheet concepts

The StreetScooter project's goal is to create a family of electric vehicles for urban traffic that can be effectively produced by a network of supplychain partners without the need for sustained government funding.

"The German government is not directly involved," Professor Kampker says, "though our project has been highly influenced by government direction. The National Development Plan for Electromobility aims to put one million electric vehicles on Germany's roads by the end of this decade. It is a goal we hope to help the country meet."

StreetScooter is a regional initiative, mainly focused in Germany and surrounding Central European nations. The project's partners are mostly SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses), rather than OEMs or major suppliers. "This," says Professor Kampker, "is in keeping with German industry's historical reliance on small family-owned enterprises."

StreetScooter thus brings new forces to the front lines of EV development; it also offers a fresh EV strategy. As Professor Kampker notes, major automakers already offering electric cars have to date focused on adapting the designs of conventional combustion-engine vehicles. "The problem," he says, "is that converting these vehicles to electric drive trains has demanded cost premiums unacceptably high to most consumers – about €10,000 per car."

Plus, driving performance and passenger comfort remain compromised in these early EVs. Air conditioning alone places heavy additional load on the cars' batteries.

"New clean-sheet electromobility concepts are clearly required," says Professor Schuh. "But many of the concept EVs we have seen to date focus on extreme driving performance or eccentric designs. They have ignored the basic requirements for a mass-market car."

Not so with StreetScooter. Its development team seeks to introduce an affordable electric vehicle that can compete with conventional compact cars in every area of performance, comfort, safety, and reliability – and that can be serially produced at a profit.

StreetScooter's modular product architecture is key to making the concept work. Interfaces between modules let suppliers continually enhance the car's design with the newest innovations in their areas of specialty. They add features in building-block style.

Through this "learning approach," says Professor Schuh, the StreetScooter team "not only leverages the latest technologies, but also discovers how to better integrate them." He adds, "Learning builds upon learning in a dynamic, interdisciplinary way. We are testing new forms of collaboration and setting new standards for automotive development."


Product & process integration

The project's early momentum appears to bear out the value of this distinctive development style. StreetScooter is on target to unveil its first functional prototype at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany in September 2011. Ten more prototype vehicles should be on German roads by the year's end.

Yet, as promising as the StreetScooter initiative is proving to be, the widereaching supplier collaboration at its heart has added new complexity to the development process. "If anything," says Professor Kampker, "effective PLM is even more central to our success."

Industry-leading PTC Windchill software provides the PLM resources for coordinating and streamlining the work of the StreetScooter's contributors.

To put the PLM platform in place, RWTH Aachen worked with consultants in PTC's Automotive Center of Excellence – part of the company's iCenter support team– to explore use cases for the vehicle and build the basic data model for the StreetScooter's design. This involved applying and adapting out-of-the-box vehicle data structures. What has resulted is a complete digital prototype of the StreetScooter concept, from interior to exterior and including the car's engine, powertrain, suspension, and tires.

The StreetScooter team uses a PLM platform powered by PTC Windchill technology to define and keep track of suppliers' access rights and roles in the design project. PLM applications center on BOM and change management. When there is a change request, all involved can immediately see the impact, wherever it is felt in the design. Innovations in one area instantly relate to others. Suppliers use PTC Creo View MCAD software to visualize these effects.

The PTC Windchill platform handles all product data, regardless of what CAD software the suppliers use. "It is a true multi-CAD data management environment," says Professor Kampker. "This lets us break down the silos between mechanical, electronic, and software designs. We are developing the full vehicle with smooth integration of all three disciplines."

Perhaps even more ambitiously, the StreetScooter development team has looked to PLM to help tighten their integration of product design and production decisions. This is creating significant new possibilities for the vehicle.

Professor Kampker explains: "Traditionally, many automotive designdecisions have been based on batch sizes. That is, some technologies could apply only if particular levels of production quantity were reached. But PLM lets us explore every alternative."

As evidence, Professor Kampker cites this example: "We are using the PLM tools to help prove out our use of tubular space-frame components. These are less expensive to produce than traditional stamped and molded parts. However, until now, the technology seemed limited to small-batch motorcycle manufacturing."

The impact on StreetScooter: "Using space-frames should help us keep the car's price affordable," says Professor Kampker.

A development like no other

From practically every perspective – product, production, and process – StreetScooter is a new vehicle development like no other. Its exceptionally wide field of collaboration brings an especially high level of complexity. Yet the contributing partners seem more than up to the challenge. Confidence stems from their smart use of PLM.

Professor Kampker sums it up: "We have built the foundation of design and process intelligence essential to our project's long-term success. PLM provides the knowledge base – a single source of truth – for all who share in bringing the StreetScooter vision to life."