When it comes to EVs, it’s easy to think a lot about how efficient they are after the vehicle leaves the factory. That’s obviously very important, but a super clean vehicle that comes from a dirty and inefficient manufacturing process isn’t a great way to get started. Perhaps more importantly, inefficient manufacturing can drive up costs, while improving the way vehicles are built can make the costs lower.
A recent press release from Stellantis shows us that the company has a really neat program in place to move things in the right direction while supporting new talent in the industry. A few weeks ago, the Company’s manufacturing and technical experts spent time working with 64 suppliers from around the globe, with some of them being startups. The overall objective was to explore and potentially embrace innovative solutions that could effectively curtail CO2 emissions, enhance product quality, lower expenses, and deliver an unparalleled customer experience in the end.
“In an automotive industry where disruption and opportunities are unlike any other time, we are building a strong community of actors that will bring innovative technologies and smart solutions to our facilities,” said Arnaud Deboeuf, Stellantis Chief Manufacturing Officer. “This great annual event allows us, together, to improve our efficiency and competitiveness, with our customers being the ultimate winner. I want to thank each of our business partners who brought us innovations across all fronts.”
This isn’t a new thing, either. The annual event is now in its eighth year and it’s called Factory Booster Day. Stellantis’ global manufacturing facilities initiated a bottom-up approach, identifying 35 challenges that align with the company’s strategic goals and the Dare Forward 2030 plan. In a distinctive process, these factory challenges were shared with current and potential suppliers, including startups and universities, through an “open call,” inviting everyone to bring their best ideas.
This all came together during the 2023 Factory Booster Day event in Betim, Brazil. At this event, a carefully curated selection of companies had a chance to pitch 99 of the most promising solutions to the challenges facing vehicle manufacturing today.
Some of the challenges for 2023 Factory Booster Day included:
- Improving process performance with AI
- Modeling, measuring, and managing energy use
- Detecting loose material or contamination in a BEV battery
Startups didn’t have to listen to the meme and go to Brazil to participate, because the Stellantis manufacturing team members from all corners of the globe were able to virtually participate in presentations and demonstrations through a metaverse platform. Plant managers, who firmly believe in the potential of a specific solution to address a challenge, are empowered to initiate pilot tests. The results of these tests are meticulously evaluated and shared by an Innovation Committee, led by engineering and plant leadership.
Promising solutions that emerge at the end of this process are then implemented across Stellantis plants globally, ensuring their widespread success and better, more efficient manufacturing at the company.
Innovations from past years include:
- High-tech welding of short flanges on vehicle doors, which delivered improvements in quality and stability of the welded part and less cost, compared with laser welding.
- Advanced computer vision tool that can assemble parts on a moving assembly line. Computer algorithms enable tools to track any object. The system is easily integrated into an assembly line at minimal cost.
- Real-time energy use measurement and management with cloud-based analytics. The system proactively manages energy usage to meet targets and detects anomalies.
Featured image provided by Stellantis.