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TWI Hosts Automotive Sector Electrification Event

Wed, 11 December, 2019

TWI and the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) were joined by experts from Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and many more for an event exploring the challenges of electrification for the automotive sector.

The event, which took place on 4 December 2019 at TWI’s headquarters near Cambridge, was titled, ‘The Sticking Point - Can Welding Keep Pace with the Pace of the EV Revolution.’

With electrification set to be one of the solutions to help achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, there is a need to keep up with the commercialisation of the technology and the associated mass market production required by industry.

The need for large scale production creates challenges related to process innovation, particularly when it comes to the thousands of welds required to build an electric vehicle - including welding the battery packs.

The question is whether the amount of welds required could hold back the mass adoption of electric vehicles, or can these problems be solved through working together to find answers?

The event opened with a tour of TWI’s facilities before TWI consultant Nick Edge and Philippa Oldham of the APC gave an introductory welcome to the attendees.

Leading industry experts, Chris White (Ford UK’s Electrification and Global Engineering Alignment Manager) and John Poli (Jaguar Land Rover’s Director of Powertrain Engineering) provided an insight from the view of industry with a joint talk titled, ‘Electrifying Our Vehicles – a Vehicle Manufacturer Perspective.’ This interesting talk touched on how both Ford and Jaguar Land Rover are already transitioning to EV, with the tipping point where EV overtakes the combustion engine expected in the early 2020s. However, both speakers noted the challenges that need to be overcome in the meantime, including knowledge and support, technical issues and sustainability. Addressing these issues requires innovation and collaboration in areas including materials, processes, cost, quality and delivery. There is also a balance to be drawn between product design and any constraints related to joining and other manufacturing processes.

The challenges of joining processes for EV were addressed by Darek Ceglarek from Warwick Manufacturing Group as well as TWI’s friction welding expert João Gandra. The talk, titled ‘Challenges facing joining. The challenge of a change in production. ALM – is this a better alternative than welding?’ looked at alternatives to welding for joining components.

This was followed by a panel discussion where the attendees were able to discuss any questions and issues related to automotive industry electrification, before the conference took a break for lunch.

The afternoon session began with Jo Evans from the APC discussing the future of transport with a talk called, ‘Visualising the future. What will the future of transport look like?

This was followed by TWI’s Tyler London and James Simester from Hyperbat (a joint venture between Williams and Unipart) talking on the challenges of increasing production to reach mass market scales in their presentation, ‘Producing at scale. Predicting the future – EV and CAM roadmaps. The scale up challenge.’

Jack Gabzdyl of SPI Lasers, Sebastian Holtkaemper of Hesse, and Nick Carpenter from Delta Motorsport then spoke on the ‘Challenges for SMEs’ before a second panel discussion took place.

The final talk of the day came from William Southall, the managing director of Frost Electroplating, whose presentation, ‘From bracelets to batteries’ detailed how his business had changed focus to enter electrification. 

Along with the various talks and discussions there was also a number of exhibits on display from Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Giant Cycles, JCB, Kawasaki Robotics, the APC and TWI.

Ford showed off their Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid van, while Jaguar Land Rover displayed their I-Pace electric vehicle and JCB exhibited the JCB 19C-1E - industry’s first fully electric mini excavator. Giant cycles’ E+ 1Pro electric bicycle was also on display for people to see while Kawasaki Robotics provided welding systems and robotics information. The APC brought a display featuring their Technology Developer Accelerator Programme while TWI were able to show the SurFlowTM system for wireless data transmission through composite structures.

The successful event demonstrated how industry can unite and solve the challenges of electrification to deliver the widespread switch to EV sought by the automotive industry. The event received a lot of positive feedback from attendees and presenters alike, including John Poli and Chris White who felt it was an excellent opportunity to meet new solution providers and learn more about TWI’s capabilities.

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