Has Tesla Found a Better Way to Test and Validate Vehicles?

Has Tesla Found a Better Way to Test and Validate Vehicles?

Mar 24, 2017

By Charles Murray, DesignNews Electric carmaker might shorten the beta test phase of its forthcoming Tesla Model 3 vehicle. A recent statement by Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk has auto insiders wondering if the electric car maker has found a better way to test and validate vehicles, or if it is embarking on a risky new course. In the statement made on an exclusive investor-only call last week, Musk reportedly suggested that the beta test phase of the company’s moderately-priced Model 3 EV is being shortened, and that its “early release candidates” are already being built on production tooling. According to various electric car websites, such as Elektrek, Tesla engineers used sophisticated design-for-manufacturability analytics, enabling them to limit the number of pre-production iterations of the vehicle. The result is that the quality of the so-called “release candidates” is higher than it was for the company’s earlier products, the Model S and Model X, reports said. “The most plausible interpretation of this statement about release candidates is that (Musk) has opted to short-cut development testing of prototype vehicles,” noted Sam Abuelsamid, senior reach analyst for Navigant Research , in an e-mail to Design News. “In all likelihood, he is assuming that they can get by with more simulation testing and less testing of physical prototypes.” If that is indeed Musk’s plan, it would be a departure from the way automobiles have traditionally been tested, validated and manufactured. In common practice, beta testing involves months and tens of thousands of testing miles on vehicles built on pre-production tooling. In the case of the Model 3 (photo, left), that phase may have been short-circuited, but it’s difficult to know definitively because Musk often uses different terms than other automakers when describing the process. Tesla did not respond to an e-mail from Design News asking for clarification. Automotive experts said the industry will watch carefully to see if the Silicon Valley carmaker’s software-centric approach is successful, but many were skeptical. “Everybody is trying to accelerate the process of launch,” noted David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research . “But if you say you’re going to skip part of the normal process in validating your tooling,...

“Eliminate the Trade Deficit” Resonates in Halls of Congress

“Eliminate the Trade Deficit” Resonates in Halls of Congress

Mar 22, 2017

By Michele Nash-Hoff, Savingusmanufacturing.com  “You were ahead of the curve on trade.” This was the common refrain heard last week by members of the Coalition for a Prosperous America who attended our annual fly-in to Washington, D. C. We had eight teams of members visiting Congressional Representatives and Senators on March 14th and 15th. As Chair of our developing California chapter, it was my fifth year attending the CPA fly-in, and our simple message of eliminating the trade deficit resonated well in the halls of Congress. No one could deny that we have a huge deficit as shown on the chart below: The annual trade deficit has reduced our U. S. GDP by some 3% to 5.5% each year, and those reductions compound over time. There is no historical record of any other country in history running 41 years of consecutive trade deficits. Why is this important? Because every billion dollars of net imports costs 4,500 American jobs according to conservative estimates. So last year’s $502 billion deficit equates to 2.25 million jobs lost. As a result, our Labor Force Participation is in serious decline. The U. S. is the only G7 nation with a DECLINE in LFPR since 1998 for workers ages 15-64. It peaked at 77.4% in 1998 and dropped down five points to 72.6% in 2015, meaning that over 7 million people dropped out of labor force since 1998. The remedy recommended by the Coalition for a Prosperous America is simple:  Congress should establish a national goal to eliminate the trade deficit. Balanced trade over time is the goal of free trade and of fair trade. Balanced trade will re-industrialize our country, enable massive job creation, grow our wealth and effectively neutralize foreign mercantilism. Trade policy must address true drivers of deficit, these countries and their practices. Many of these countries have export-oriented growth strategies in which they rely upon the US market to consume their exports rather than increasing their internal consumption. China, Germany, Japan and other countries pursue net exports through strategic mercantilism, not free trade. Currency manipulation, value added taxes, state influenced enterprises, and other tactics are used. The following top 10 countries account for 90% of America’s...

New Design Could Spur Proliferation of LiDAR Sensors for…

New Design Could Spur Proliferation of LiDAR Sensors for…

Mar 21, 2017

“New Design Could Spur Proliferation of LiDAR Sensors for Autonomous Vehicles” By Design-2-Part Magazine MORGAN HILL, Calif.— Velodyne LiDAR Inc., a prominent developer of light, detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology, has developed a design for a solid-state LiDAR sensor that reportedly makes the sensors less expensive, easier to integrate due to their smaller size, and more reliable as a result of fewer moving parts. The design, which can be integrated in Velodyne LiDAR’s existing Puck form factors, is reported to yield a subsystem cost of under $50 U.S. when sold in high-volume manufacturing scale. Velodyne LiDAR (www.velodynelidar.com) is optimistic that the technology will spur proliferation of LiDAR sensors in multiple industry sectors, including autonomous vehicles, ridesharing, 3D mapping, and drones. “Our new design approach creates a true solid-state LiDAR sensor, while significantly raising the bar as to what can be expected from LiDAR sensors as far as cost, size, and reliability,” said David Hall, founder and CEO of Velodyne LiDAR, in a company release. “Together with our customers and partners, we strive to create a world where LiDAR sensors increase safety and freedom for people everywhere, and this new design is a huge step in that direction.” Velodyne LiDAR’s new approach to the development of solid-state LiDAR sensors reflects the application of a monolithic gallium nitride (GaN) integrated circuit, developed in partnership with Efficient Power Conversion (EPC). The design consolidates components and is said to result in significant advances in sensor miniaturization, reliability, and cost reduction. At less than 4mm square, each integrated circuit is of a size that “just covers George Washington’s nose on the U.S. quarter,” according to Velodyne LiDAR.   “As LiDAR technology continues to gain widespread adoption, GaN technology brings higher performance, resulting in higher image resolution, all while offering enhanced integration of key functions that ultimately lead to reduced overall cost for LiDAR-based system solutions,” said Dr. Alex Lidow, CEO and co-founder of Efficient Power Conversion Corporation, in the release. Velodyne LiDAR’s design is currently being tested and integrated into future products. The company expects to announce a release date sometime in 2017. “Velodyne’s decades of LiDAR expertise places it in the best position to define and develop power-...

Auto Parts Joint Venture To Add 200 Jobs In Indiana

Auto Parts Joint Venture To Add 200 Jobs In Indiana

Mar 20, 2017

By Andy Szal, Digital Reporter, Manufacturing.net Japanese manufacturer NTN Corp. on Friday announced that its Indiana-based joint venture plans to build a second auto parts factory and add about 200 jobs in coming years. NTK Precision Axle Corp. — a venture between NTN, Takao Kogyo and Neturen — makes driveshaft components in Anderson, Ind.; its second plant will make turning and heat treatment processes and increase the business’ overall production capacity. NTN officials said that the company hopes to bolster production in areas with strong auto parts demand. The new factory will also consolidate production of parts currently sourced from external partners operating overseas. Construction on the second plant is scheduled to begin next month. Mass production will start one year later, and the 200-employee workforce is expected to be in place for the 2021 fiscal...

Why one CT producer is investing time, millions to reshore

Why one CT producer is investing time, millions to reshore

Mar 16, 2017

By Gregory Seay, Hartford Business Journal Cromwell factory owner Jack Carey saw the threat looming several years ago, and began steps to protect his product source, employees and the future of family-run Carey Manufacturing Inc. Well before this sitting president’s “America First” campaign and mounting public support for boosting jobs at home, Carey, whose company supplies metal latches, catches and handles to commercial, industrial and military customers, sought to end its reliance on heavily subsidized Chinese raw materials and manufacturers of hardware found on everything from office desks to missile containers. So by early 2018, Carey says his $8 million company will have invested $2.5 million in Connecticut-sourced laser cutters, a new quality-inspection station and up to eight new jobs, to produce in-house the more than 300 varieties of latches and handles listed in its catalog. Chinese suppliers’ unpredictable pricing and uneven quality were Carey’s principal reasons for home-shoring his hardware production. “We’re trying to compete in a world where … we’re competing against governments that give things away. It’s tough,” said Carey, a former Pratt & Whitney Co. machinist who launched his company in 1998. His move, one of Connecticut’s and the nation’s growing examples of the “reshoring” trend to bring certain manufacturing and technology back to America, offers plenty of benefits, including a secure, stable supply of product and more production overtime for his shop-floor workers, Carey says. But even more important, says Carey, is that America can recapture production of some obscure but vital components such as the metal missile-case fasteners Carey supplies to the U.S. military. According to industry observers, reshoring of manufacturing and related technology to America has been underway since the Great Recession but is still in its infancy. The trend dipped in 2015 due to the strong dollar and rising oil prices, which favored overseas production, according to the Reshoring Initiative, a Midwest nonprofit advocate of restoring well-paying manufacturing jobs and vital goods production to the U.S. From 2010 to 2015, it’s estimated that Connecticut added 575 new jobs and eight new companies as a result of reshoring and foreign direct investment, according to the Reshoring Initiative. Many of the jobs are coming back to America from...