For the automotive industry having the ability to predict how your latest product will behave once it is on the road is important. Understanding consumer needs, and then running predictive software over possible solutions to these needs, can save manufacturers a significant amount of time and money.
The EUREKA CHASING initiative, a €4.61 million collaborative research project involved Belgian and Polish partners. This project primarily sought to develop software for a specific sector of the automotive industry – buses. Polish manufacturer Solaris Bus & Coach wanted to develop and simulate a new pneumatic chassis with air springs, the kind that enables a bus to lower its height when at a stop, making it easier for the elderly, the disabled and those with pushchairs to get on and off. The potential market for these buses is truly global.
“We saw a win-win situation in developing this simulation-based approach,” says project leader Dr Alessandro Toso, RTD Project Leader of Simulation at LMS International. “We brought our vehicle dynamics and multi-physics simulation software expertise, and in return, gained lots of insights into a market – buses - that we have not traditionally addressed.”
The CHASING consortium involved the bus company Solaris, AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Polish firm EC Engineering and Flanders-based Siemens business segment LMS. “The production of buses is completely different to cars,” explains Dr Toso. “A bus needs to run for millions of miles, often in harsh conditions. Our Polish project partner Solaris manufactures buses for the global market, not for just European roads.”
There is a general trend in the automotive industry towards greater complexity and increased electronic content. This means, of course, that more things can go wrong. “Cars and buses are no longer just mechanical – they are now essentially computers on wheels,” says Dr Toso. “And if an electronic system fails, this can have implications for other parts. If you have a problem with your car, there is a 40% chance that the problem is electronic.” Accurate simulation of prototype parts has never been more important.
IN OUR TRADE, REFERENCE CASES ARE HUGELY IMPORTANT FOR ATTRACTING FUTURE BUSINESS.
For Solaris’ needs, LMS solutions included the software, tools and support; Krakow University provided know-how in terms of optimising algorithms; and the engineering company, with links to the university, provided their expertise. The partnership proved to be hugely successful. “We have published over 40 scientific papers on the back of this project, and this has been a key success for us,” says Dr Toso. “We also gained exposure with early adaptors, who have tested the software and provided us with valuable feedback.”
Just as importantly, LMS solutions are in place at a major bus manufacturer. “In our trade, reference cases are hugely important for attracting future business. Participating in projects such as CHASING can really help to develop a business.” LMS is confident that the automotive industry is ready to absorb and deploy this technology across the board.