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€33.7m project will develop digital motor production methods

20 December, 2021

A consortium of 17 German companies and research organisations has embarked on a €33.7m Government-backed project to develop a digitalised system for producing innovative electric motors. The AgiloDrive2 project is being led by Schaeffler, with other participants including Siemens, Kuka, Schunk and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

After the three-year project ends, the aim is to transfer its findings to Schaeffler’s site in Bühl, Germany – the headquarters of its Automotive Technologies Division – where it is building a state-of-the-art plant to produce electric motors.

“Instead of rigid production lines, we will be looking to highly flexible, digitalised, and efficient technology modules, which are easily scalable, permit flexible configurations and interlinking, and can be established on a software basis,” explains Thomas Pfund, president of Schaeffler’s E-Motors business.

The project will 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. It will also work on new ways to assemble magnets, and to create and insert hairpin coils made of flat copper wire.

Standardised machine connections, hardware and software interfaces, and cross-manufacturer communications standards should help to simplify the production facilities and allow systems to be integrated rapidly using a “plug-and-produce” approach. The modular machine structure will allow equipment to be re-used in an efficient and sustainable way, while digital twins will make production planning more efficient, as well as accelerating commissioning. AI will be harnessed to boost product quality.

A motor stator with hairpin windings built during the pilot phase of the AgiloDrive project
Photo: Markus Breig, KIT

The AgiloDrive2 project follows an 18-month pilot phase in which digital twins were used to develop modular structures for motors and their production, and included two proof-of-concept demonstrators.

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