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Lightweighting for the Electric Vehicles

Lightweighting stays relatively young concept of the automotive industry. Nevertheless, over the past decade it has been deploying over all the industry sectors, becoming an important subject for research and development.

With European commission setting more and more strict regulations for Driving Emissions in attempt to minimize carbon footprint, car manufacturers face an uneasy dilemma – to meet the requirements or to pay increasing penalties. One of the most ergonomic and environmental-friendly options – slowly but thoroughly increase the share of electric vehicles in production.

Despite numerous attempts to bring lightweighting into discredit doubting safety qualities of lightweight materials, it was scientifically proven that these materials are not only as good but at some point are even better than regular steel. At the same time concept designers don’t stop conducting the research on safety subject.

Lightweight materials are well known as expensive way to improve the design. However, experts are sharing the opinion that the gap in prices between steel and lightweight alternatives will shrink through upcoming years (especially on the background of rising penalties for the carbon footprint).

Electric vehicles can be considered as the ultimate aim for lightweighting. While lightweight materials can be used in regular vehicles design only on partial basis, in electric vehicles they obtain perfection in use – allowing flawless unibody design concepts.

Nowadays we observe increasing awareness among the consumers connected to their estimation of the environment impact humanity make. Remembering the world industry trends, moving towards the renewable energy sources and nature protection, electric vehicles seem to be an obvious future of the automotive industry.

Interested to learn more? Visit our Lightweight Vehicles and Materials Forum!

Corrosion of Offshore Wind Farm Monopile Foundations

Monopile foundations are considered to be most common solution for the offshore wind turbines installation nowadays despite the obvious industry motion towards deeper water. The deployment of these foundations is based on the ease of installation for medium water depths.

Due to the fact of partial underwater placement, foundations are exposed to both external and internal corrosion processes. External corrosion process is similar among any offshore projects and the mitigation experience of the Oil and Gas Industry can be applied to it. Cathodic protection (CP) with galvanic anodes is considered to be the most common and well-established solution.

Monopile foundations require constant monitoring and testing and due to the fact that many operators prohibit manual procedures, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) stay the main solution.  Common monitoring and inspection techniques include [1]:

  • Drop-cell measuring protection potential of the CP
  • Stabber mounted on ROV
  • Ultrasonic testing crawler measuring the thickness of walls

That’s what is applicable to the external corrosion processes.

Internal corrosion protection still requires thorough research and description in terms of the industry standards. Although CP technology is applicable for the internal corrosion mitigation as well as for external, for many existing monopile foundations internal surfaces stay uncoated and unprotected in belief corrosion rates would be negligible. Despite that fact all the Operations and Maintenance procedures are aimed to support uninterrupted and enlarged lifecycle which brings the need of further research in terms of corrosion mitigating tools and techniques and construction materials choice to the forefront.

References:[1] Monitoring and inspection operations for evaluating corrosion in the offshore wind farms – Troels Mathiesen, Anders Black, Frits Groenvold

For further information click here.

HVDC Converter Application

Offshore Wind Power Generation Industry is slowly but steadily moving towards deeper waters in order to obtain higher productivity and use wind power more effectively. As a result common HVAC transmission solutions are stepping back, giving space to HVDC ones. Offshore substations are traditionally designed as AC collecting and transmitting platforms and changing the paradigm to HVDC will obviously require additional and pricey the installation of the HVDC converter platform.

HVDC transmission has proven that although it’s a more expensive and complex solution in terms of HVDC converter installation and maintenance it provides more opportunities for deep water projects ensuring reduced power losses and sustainable power transmission over the great distances.

There is always a choice between AC transformer and DC converter installation. Research shows that while AC transformers are easier in maintenance and less expensive HVDC/AC converters become more preferable solution for the large distances and big scale projects. In order to maximize the performance and ensure reliability it’s advised to use both systems in thoroughly calculated balance between AC and DC.

The trend towards more remote offshore wind projects installation logically will cause the increase of HVDC transmission share on the solutions market through the upcoming years.

For further information click here.

Automotive Market – Trends 2016

Despite the increasing instability of the world’s economy, automotive industry keeps growing its production volumes.

According to European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), EU automotive market sales are still on the way to recovery from the 2008 financial crisis and for 2016 ACEA experts don’t expect any impressive swings – just the steady growth in a modest tempo (in comparison to 2014-2015 growth ratio).

Key trends in the industry stated by KPMG’s Global Automotive Executives Survey 2016[1]:

  • Market growth in emerging markets was declared the most important trend reflecting OEMs focus on traditional business model (boosting the production volumes through geographical expansion). Chinese market was considered to be the most promising for launching innovations.
  • Hybrid & fuel cell electric vehicles have skyrocketed since 2015 as key market trends which can be definitely explained with the carbon footprint regulations‘ tendency for getting more and more strict by year.
  • Connectivity and digitization are becoming the main hotspot for upcoming years following developing customers’ requirements and increasing technical complexity of the concepts. This particular trend is expected to cause the disruption in cost-competitive manufacturing expansive business model and trigger the paradigm revolution leading to service-driven business model.

Hybrid electric vehicles are becoming the ultimate consumers’ choice being eco-friendly, cost-efficient, relatively affordable and appropriate for daily use. Following consumers’ demand, OEMs turn their strategical scope of interests on developing highly-efficient lightweight concepts for hybrids.

Automotive industry is going through the mindset reformation driven by the evolution of society (both in social responsibility and increasing technological complexity). That is promising the bright future for all the current concepts and innovative solutions being developed.

References:

[1]KPMG’s 17th consecutive Global Automotive Executives Survey 2016

For further information click here.

Project Management as a Core Competency

“Core competency” is a relatively young term introduced in the frames of economic theory by C. K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel. Core competencies can be described as the tools (skills/resources) helping to establish and ensure the competitive advantage.

Utility and Power Generation Industry is going through the slow but undeniable process of transformation. Smart energy is taking over the place of conservative services following lifestyle and technology development. That brings up a need for the new ways such as defining core competencies for existing strategy optimization.

The meaning of Project Management still stays underestimated way too often but for Utility and Power Generation industry plays rather important role. Wide spread net of procurement, production and supply require constant supervision and responsiveness.

Efficient Project Management ensures improved efficiency in delivering services, better flexibility enhanced customer satisfaction, opportunities for expansion, improved risk assessment and higher quality.

Remembering that competition within the industry is considerably high, benefits offered by the Project Management implementation are undeniable. Setting up Project Management as one of the core competencies for strategy optimization will provide better hotspot focus, reaching desired goals within specific time and cost frames.

For more information click here.

Logistics Through the Prism of Data

Logistics and optimization has been walking side by side for a very long time and there’s no evidence that the progress should turn into the excellence any time soon. Deepening of the world’s digitization dictates the deployment of data-driven optimization tools.

Mapping and tracking supply chain, warehousing administration – all it goes through the prism of data analysis.

Contemporary technology offers multiple software solutions and gadgets for everyday performance optimization.

Sensors installed to the warehouses’ gates, attached to the vehicles, are collecting and gathering data in order to enhance supply chain visibility and resilience drawing a complete picture of the ongoing processes. IoT implementation can be a great advantage improving warehouse ergonomics and optimizing the capacity.

The possibility to draw all the logistic indicators together into one dashboard opens new horizons for the logistic management. All in all, the minimization of the human factor and increasing automation of systems and structures bring great results.

Real-time management decisions are turning into beneficial basis for the overall supply chain development strategy. Data analysis helps not only to perform transportation management improvement but also helps to strengthen the supply security and enhance awareness of current circumstances (demand terms and volumes, external threats, etc.).

For more information click here.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Offshore Wind Farms

Productivity, Cost-efficiency, Reliability and Sustainability – 4 floating grounds of the offshore wind energy. Renewable energy production is a young market and its development lies in the field of innovation applications.

A geographic information system (GIS) allows to visualize, question, analyse, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends for current adjustments or further forecasting.

GIS role starts in the very beginning of a wind farm installation – the importance of GIS platforms for the planning of windfarms installation can’t be overestimated: any location which is being considered for the wind farm installation has very different offshore wind energy potential, roughness of the terrain and obstacles, road access, orography of the region, accessibility to transmission and/or distribution networks, soil conditions, environmental impacts [1]. In order to optimize the productivity and maximize the cost efficiency, offshore wind developers apply GIS software at the stage of geo planning.

GIS systems accompany the whole lifecycle of the offshore wind farm. Gathering operational data with geographical context provides an intuitive view of the operational landscape that enables immediate, location-aware, actionable decisions. It also enables improved operational planning, proactive asset management, asset tracking, reporting, and regulatory compliance [Esri]. Data collected through GIS platforms forms the trustworthy basis for the productivity planning and all related operations like scheduling the maintenance windows and performing all the necessary testing.

Thus GIS applications stay an irreplaceable tool for the whole offshore wind farm installation, operation and maintenance processes, providing multiple benefits the cost-efficiency and profitability improvement.

References: 1 “Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Application in Wind Farm Planning“ by Almoataz Y. Abdelazi, Said F. Mekhamer

For further information click here.

Subsea Cables Monitoring and Inspection. What’s New?

Cable monitoring & inspection process became an inseparable part of the Offshore Oil & Gas Industry’ performance from the very beginning – any gaps in sustainability and reliability of cable network might cause serious disruptions in producer’s activity which is already set under the pressure of the recent drop in O & G prices . Cable network laid deep under water is one of the most cost-generating sectors of the offshore projects, which makes it a subject for the continuous and progressing optimization.

Subsea cables are constantly exposed to variable threats so as axial compression, stress corrosion and fatigue, overheating of power cables, environmental changes, biofouling. So as all the operations connected to cable repair/replacement are considered to be increasingly complex and expensive, predictive maintenance seems to be the right way to handle possible inconveniences.

Predictive maintenance for subsea power and heating cables operates involves such measures as:

  1. Modelling of particular risk scenarios
  2. Temperature sensors installation/thermocouples
  3. Corrosion indicators installation
  4. Biofouling sensors installation
  5. Testing and inspection

Current innovative approach to predictive cable monitoring based on the implementation of integrated condition monitoring schemes, advanced coating and materials use in cable design, data accumulating tools for further analysis. Cable monitoring and inspection technology is progressively evolving following the software and gadget development heading for further and more complex optimization of cable networks.

For more information click here.

Supplier Management and Key Performance Indicators

According to Eugenio Filippi (Baxalta) an experienced supply chain manager (over 10 years across 2 industries), supply chain departments quite usually have a (large) number of measurements and scorecards in place, but somehow the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) seem to remain elusive.

Eugenio suggests to choose 5 most important (critical) indicators to represent your organizational performance and focus on them. These 5 indicators should be:

  • Manageable i.e. can be easily adjusted and updated on regular basis
  • Applicable to a cascaded-down management system where the up level of management might only look at 1 or 2 key indicators per each department, while the level below might have a much larger number of metrics drilling all the way down to the shop floor
  • Evident – easy to grasp and give a clear indication whether you are moving in the right direction.

The challenge includes not only the choice of suitable indicators – for the logistics / supply chain sector, what is often missing is the context in which these indicators should be used.

Regarding the indicator of volume/complaints ratio: Supplier1 might deliver 3,000 units a year and generate 3 complaints, while Supplier2 delivers 30,000 units and generates 30 complaints. Are they equally good/bad? You might need to look at what their Sigma level is (thus understanding how complex their processes are and how many opportunities for failure these generate) before you can answer that.  For instance, one might be delivering your products to 5 locations per given Tour, while the other to one central location only. So clearly the complexity of the process has to be taken under the consideration.

Very often departments have lots of measurements but since these have been around for years no one actually checks whether they are actually the right ones. All of the existing measurements have to be checked for the relevancy – some of them need to be adjusted to side factors (as in the example above), some of them are no longer applicable. Technical development should be included into the improvement process – current opportunities of data analysis and using IoT for Big Data gathering might be a great ground for establishing a sustainable KPI system for any organization.

For more information click here.

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