At present, Europe’s carmakers can produce 22 million cars a year but there is only demand for 15 million. The same is true around the world: car manufacturers have the capacity to make far more cars than people want to buy and industry insiders are asking whether the mass production of huge numbers of near-identical vehicles is the best model for the 21st century.
Mass production achieves economies of scale, of course, but is there another way? Rather than churn out vast numbers of cars to keep in stock in the hope that people will buy them, what if each car could be custom-made to order? After all, the personal computer industry does exactly that.
That is the thinking behind the European Union’s “Five-day car” initiative which seeks to explore how the industry can move towards meeting the needs of customers more directly by building a car to order in less than a week.An end to mass production?
Some argue that it must be done. “The only way to ensure the economic survival of organisations, establishments and employees in the European automotive industry is to escape, in the long run, the competitive pressure from cheap labour countries,” says Rene Esser of ThyssenKrupp Automotive, the project coordinator. “ILIPT tackles both the conceptual and the practical aspects of the automotive industry’s radical new concept: the delivery to the customer of a bespoke vehicle only several days after placing the order.”
ILIPT is a four-year project running until June 2008. Its €16m budget includes a €9 million injection from the European Commission. Its 27 partners include big names, such as Daimler, BMW, Siemens and TRW, as well as SMEs and universities. They are based in nine EU countries plus Switzerland, Russia and Brazil.
ILIPT has tackled the challenge on three fronts.Modular car
Of course, making a car in five days requires more than a modular design. The automotive industry is a complex network of independent but often poorly coordinated suppliers and assemblers. Component makers down the supply chain may know little of the demand at the top and it is currently very difficult to coordinate production and stocks right down the chain.
To tackle this, ILIPT is developing collaborative processes for planning demand, capacity and replenishment among all the members of a supply chain and also for ordering and supplying components. The partners are creating standard data models and system interfaces to ease the free flow of information up and down the chain.
The third theme is to develop methods to pull all this together and assess and validate innovative concepts in product and process design, as well as order processing. The “ILIPT Demonstrator” is a software package that shows how ILIPT could be applied in practice and includes several case studies arising out of the project.No need to keep stock
Suppliers will need to keep little or no stock, so dramatically cutting inventory costs, and production costs will be lower as component makers will be better informed of demand and can plan accordingly to optimise their production. And customers will be able to get exactly the car they want only a few days after ordering it.
“The initiative’s true breakthrough is the realisation of a stockless vehicle supply system in Europe to supply a customer-ordered vehicle within five days,” Mr Esser says. “It goes beyond the industry’s usual response of shutting down assembly plants or increasing production capacity to capitalise on orders for popular models.”
He argues that the lessons learned in ILIPT will be applicable not just within the automotive industry but to any of the manufacturing and transport sectors that are subject to similar pressures of time and cost.
Christian Nielsen | alfa
New players, standardization and digitalization for more rail freight transport
16.07.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
A helping (Sens)Hand
11.04.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences