John DayJohn Day RSS
Compared with, say, microcontrollers, there’s relatively little cutting-edge innovation in wiring harnesses, as indispensable as they may be. The wiring harness business, as Rick Burns describes it, is highly competitive and very cost-sensitive, with tight margins. Submit a quote a tad too high and you’ll likely lose the business, says Burns, Mentor Graphics’ product line director, System Integration and Harnessing. Submit a quote too low and you’ll likely lose your shirt. Submit a quote too late and you’re toast.
Considering all that, Mentor’s recently launched Capital Harness TVM software sounds like a no-brainer. Burns says it allows wiring harness manufacturers to respond in seconds with accurate quotes that would otherwise take days if not weeks to prepare. Manufacturers who use it can respond immediately to myriad design changes.
The newest addition to Mentor’s Capital® software suite, Capital Harness TVM automatically generates detailed harness manufacturing process and cost data specific to each harness design, each factory, and each company’s cost models. It adds rapid and accurate harness manufacturing process modeling and cost calculation capabilities to the Capital “Define-Design-Build-Service” flow.
TVM supports “what-if” calculations, assessing the pros and cons of deploying different machines and different factories, among other variables. It can act directly on design data generated by other Capital tools and can also read data in several standard formats, including the KBL standard, Mentor’s VeSys,® or other industry tools. TVM can be implemented as a standalone system or as part of an extended Capital flow.
“Accurate, fast and repeatable cost calculations are a key to any harness manufacturer’s competitive capability,” says Jeremy Tibbett, director of engineering for LEONI Region Americas. “Capital Harness TVM not only helps harness manufacturers win business profitably, it is also a platform for other activities such as value engineering and process optimization. I am particularly impressed that Mentor Graphics has created a standard product that is, nevertheless, highly flexible and able to protect company IP in this critical area.”
Having the right tools (and knowing how to use them) is critical in almost every business. For wiring harness manufacturers TVM looks like a sure bet.
Volvo says that beginning this summer, European leasing customers will be able to drive and evaluate an upgraded demo fleet of Volvo C30 fully electric cars.
Developed in partnership with Siemens, the cars boast a peak power output of 89 kW (120 hp) and a torque of 250 Nm. They can go from 0-70 km/h in 5.9 seconds.
The cars are also equipped with a 22 kW fast-charger that Volvo says is the world’s first on-board charger that operates on a three-phase supply and is small enough to be fitted in an electric car. Charging takes 1.5 hours for a total range of 164 km according to NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) certification. Charging with an ordinary single-phase 230 V household outlet takes 8-10 hours, depending on the available current.
Lennart Stegland, Volvo’s vice president of Electric Propulsion Systems, says that adding the fast-charging system “will radically improve the time and mileage for the daily usage of the car,” and “drastically improve the cost of ownership since the customer will now be able to drive many low cost kilometres per-day.”
Stegland adds that a quick 10-minute plug-in can add power for another 20 kM of driving. “By offering more usable hours a day, we’ve taken an important step towards making electric cars more viable as a commercial proposition, in both the private and public sectors.” Fuel costs are said to be as much as two-thirds less than that of a conventional car.
“Our aim is to be first with the latest technology within electrification,” Stegland says. “The new C30 Electric fleet will give us continuous feedback on technology and functionality as we approach a future series production.”
It used to not be such a big deal to buy a car and drive it for several years without feeling that much is missing. There were advances, of course, but models were more or less similar from year to year.
That was then; this is now: In its annual survey of what vehicle owners want in their next car, J.D. Power and Associates says there’s a lot of interest in device and application linking for smartphones, wireless connectivity, natural language voice activation, a various infotainment features. Compare that list to what your first car contained.
More than 67 percent of vehicle owners surveyed have a smartphone, and they want to be able to use it in their car with the same ease and functionality they’ve become accustomed two in their personal or business life. A challenge, though, is that many owners keep their cars for more than five years, and software upgrades for device linking technology lags behind the introduction of new smartphones. That seems to be changing fairly rapidly, though.
“Automakers have an important opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by working side by side with smartphone and application developers to provide a seamless smartphone experience for in-vehicle control of GPS/mapping, music, weather, search tools, travel and more,” says Mike VanNieuwkuyk, J.D. Power’s executive director of global automotive.
Vehicle owners in Generation Y (born 1977-1995) are more likely to be interested in device application linking technology at every price level, but the largest interest increases from 2012 are among Early Boomers (born between 1947 and 1953), increasing 7 percentage points pre-price and 14 percentage points at $250), which indicates high potential to purchase this technology.
Car owners also want to know how they’re doing with fuel economy. Nearly 80 percent would like a fuel economy indicator in their next car and that number only dropped to 72 percent when a $50 price tag was added to the feature. Another item on the wish list relating to fuel economy is active shutter grille vents, which reduce aerodynamic drag by keeping unneeded air out of the engine compartment. Interest in the vents dropped by 15 points (76 percent to 61 percent) when the price was set at $150, but the post price tag drops for those two economy-related items were among the lowest in the survey.
Here’s an opportunity to help launch an intriguing company/technology. Mi Alerts is launching mobile technology that will send an alert to a customer’s mobile phone when the customer’s car is hit, damaged, or stolen. The complete Mi Alerts system will take photographs and videos of accidents or hit-and-runs, making it easier for insurance companies and law enforcement to settle disputes.
Mi Alerts’ features include:
Car Impact Alert System – A sensor located behind the front license plate will send an alert to the customer’s mobile device if the car gets hit, dinged or broken into, while identifying the location where the impact occurred. The level of impact is also measured.
Mi Alerts Camera – A small camera located inside the front grill of the car or right below the license plate protects the car against careless drivers. Three additional remote cameras can be placed on the back windshield and on the inside of each door. The impact will trigger each camera to take a picture immediately after the collision, thus capturing snapshots of the other car in the accident.
Mi Alerts Streaming Video – The camera will record a short video moments after impact for further protection.
Identifying Hit & Run Drivers – If both cars in the accident have Mi Alerts, an alert of the accident is sent to both owners, identifying each driver and sending the identification to Mi Alerts secure online database, thus pinpointing all “hit & run” drivers who have the Mi Alerts system.
A Built-In GPS Locator – allows the owner to find the car in a crowded parking and sends an alert if the car is being towed or stolen.
Tracking of Driver Habits – Mi Alerts can track an automobile’s speed (mph/kph). This is especially helpful for employers who would like to track their employees driving habits as well as view their speed. The company is working with insurance companies to issue “good driver” insurance discounts.
Mi Alerts can also be used as a child or pet finder or as a home monitoring system.
The company is raising capital and selling its technology on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Want to help?
As a tier one supplier focused on telematics and infotainment, Sprint Velocity is tasked with recruiting mobile app developers and integrating apps into cars.
“Automakers have gone from semi-closed gardens to recruiting the best and brightest to write automotive-appropriate apps,” says Tim Johnson, Sprint Velocity global business development manager. “It’s the natural evolution of what’s going on in this market space.”
But it’s very early in the game, in Johnson’s view. “The space is going from the equivalent of a young child to a ‘tween, or maybe a teen, but it’s a long way from adulthood.” That analogy equates to major opportunities for app developers, especially those that are well-managed and well-funded. Partnering with an app developer or any other supplier is a major commitment for an automaker; getting there is understandably more difficult than placing an app on a mobile website.
Johnson suggests that app developers interested in automotive potential should consider three goals. The first is to create a mobile device app that adds value to the driving or riding experience. The second is to bring that app into the car in ways that leverage the car’s sound system, display screen, or other features.
“The driver can put the mobile device into the glove compartment or the trunk and let the very well thought-through integration of car electronics take over the app and present it at speed – or not – using appropriate audio or display technology,” Johnson says. “That’s a huge opportunity, and we are well-involved in doing that.”
The third opportunity is to develop an app that doesn’t rely on a mobile device at all, but to consider the car as the equivalent of a mobile device. “There are enormous opportunities here, as well,” Johnson suggests. “In all, there are three very sweet targets for an app developer. None of those targets existed until quite recently, but now the gates have been thrown wide open.”
Andrew Poliak, director of automotive business development at QNX Software Systems, believes there is confusion among automakers and suppliers about open standard and open source software. In his view, too many people consider the two to be basically the same.
Too many people believe:
- Open standards are incompatible with delivering great, cost-effective user experiences.
- Open standards are incompatible with proprietary software platforms.
- Open source platforms are less costly than proprietary platforms.
- Open source platforms are the best choice for avoiding vendor lock-in and for gaining access to programming talent.
Poliak concedes that vendor lock-in is a legitimate concern, and that open source platforms have potential to leverage the programming skills of a broad developer community. On the other hand, open standards like POSIX or HTML5 mitigate both issues. In fact, he says, developers who write code to an open standard can often run their code on both open source and proprietary platforms.
Free software – like a free puppy
Two other presumed advantages of open source platforms are cost and time. The assumption is that open source software is free, but Poliak suggests that open source software is free the way a puppy can be free – free to obtain, perhaps, but costly to support for its lifetime. Time-wise, it’s easy for developers to incorporate open source code, but Poliak says that doing so without appropriate organizational discipline can lead to problems.
Open standard software – HTML5, for example – offers the advantages of vendor and operating system neutrality. No single company or interest group “owns” it and it can run on many different platforms. It also avoids the potential disadvantage of onerous open source licensing terms. Poliak reports that QNX customers are expressing keen interest in HTML5 especially for automotive applications.
Arguably the best strategy, in Poliak’s opinion, is to craft a blended solution with open source, open standard, and/or proprietary tools, all working together to improve reliability, performance, or security. For more of Poliak’s thoughts on open source versus open system software visit http://johndayautomotivelectronics.com/?p=13854
Renesas made a rather significant announcement this week, launching the newest system-on-chip (SoC) in its R-Car series. It refers to the device – the R-Car H2 – as “a complete solution for next-generation high-end multimedia and navigation” with “high performance and state-of-the-art 3D graphics capabilities.”
The performance comes in part from ARM’s big.LITTLE processing technology, which in this case combines an ARM® Cortex™A-15 quad-core configuration running an additional ARM® Cortex™A-7 quad-core. Renesas says it’s the first implementation of Quad ARM® Cortex A15 big.LITTLE processing in an automotive SoC. The big.LITTLE scheme combines slower, lower-power cores with faster, more power-hungry ones. Renesas says the R-Car H2 is capable of delivering more than 25,000 DMIPS, and it leverages Renesas Mobile’s experience with mobile products to minimize power consumption.
The R-Car H2 also marks the first automotive SoC implementation of Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR Series6 G6400 Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). The GPU supports open technologies like OpenGL ES 2.0, OpenGL ES 3.0, and OpenCL.
Media hardware accelerators enable features like 4 x HD 1080p video en/decoding including Blu-Ray support at 60 frames per second, image/voice recognition and high-resolution 3D graphics without adding appreciably to the CPU load. Renesas’ IMP-X4 core is an option said to provide real-time image processing for augmented reality, and along with that the R-Car H2 supports up to four independent input camera channels for 360° camera views and image recognition.
For multitasking, the R-Car H2 has two independent DDR3-1600 32-bit interfaces, which Renesas says is better than a single 64-bit DDR interface for accessing different content simultaneously. Dedicated CPU and IP caches reduce DDR3 memory bandwidth consumption.
Renesas executive manager Ryuji Omura says first-generation R-Car devices have been well accepted in the infotainment market. The second generation is aimed at “further expansion of the ecosystem with a number of our partners including embedded OS, middleware and tool vendors.” Partner solutions enable quick prototyping and reduction of product development costs. In its announcement Renesas listed 20 partners including (in alphabetical order) Elektrobit, Mentor Graphics, Microsoft, QNX Software Systems, and Wind River.
Engineers are adding more electronic features to cars, but at the same time engineers – not necessarily the same ones – are trying to reduce vehicle weight and improve mileage. I’ve been wondering how they do that.
This week Freescale Semiconductor provided a clue. The company introduced a microcontroller (MCU) billed as a network gatekeeper (the Qorivva MPC5748G) and LIN and CAN satellite nodes (MagniV S12ZVL and S12ZVC respectively).
Freescale notes a correlation between the growing need for connectivity and the number of electronic control units (ECUs) in a car. It estimates that the average vehicle includes several miles of copper wire weighing 150 pounds or more.
Integrating more functionality into a vehicle’s ECUs and increasing the intelligence of its satellite nodes can help reduce the number of ECUs and the amount of associated wiring required, eliminating weight in the vehicle wiring harness and helping to improve fuel economy.
Freescale says its new MCUs, intended to streamline body control networks, integrate connectivity, functional safety, security and network management capability. It estimates that the new products will enable automakers to shed up to 20 pounds of copper wiring and board components, and also to reduce board sizes by up to 30 percent. Other benefits include simplified vehicle network design and increased manufacturing efficiency.
The single-chip gatekeeper MCU is said to provide “an unprecedented level of integration” plus innovative low-power management modes, support for functional safety, and security features. It includes support for Ethernet with Audio Video Bridging (AVB), FlexRay™, Media Local Bus (MLB), USB, CAN FD (Flexible Data Rate) and up to 18 LIN controllers. It can be configured with up to 6 MB of flash and 768 KB of RAM, and it leverages Freescale’s SafeAssure technology to address the ISO 26262 standard. Safety functions include self-testing and end-to-end error correction coding.
The LIN and CAN satellite nodes, which are also SafeAssure devices, are said to allow engineers to achieve the smallest possible LIN and CAN termination nodes, thus helping to reduce PC board sizes by as much as 30 percent. High voltage signals and power supplies can be connected directly to the nodes, which trims the need for additional discrete devices.
About John Day
News and commentary on automotive EE trends and topics
- Estimating wiring harness costs in seconds
- A pickup truck with park assist and a lot more
- If you’re in Europe this summer
- Okay, next time I buy a car…
- A ground floor opportunity in mobile technology
- Three ways to play the apps game
- May 2013 (2)
- April 2013 (5)
- March 2013 (5)
- February 2013 (5)
- January 2013 (5)
- December 2012 (5)
- November 2012 (5)
- October 2012 (5)
- September 2012 (6)
- August 2012 (4)
- July 2012 (5)
- June 2012 (5)
- May 2012 (5)
- April 2012 (5)
- March 2012 (5)
- February 2012 (5)
- January 2012 (5)
- December 2011 (5)
- November 2011 (5)
- October 2011 (5)
- September 2011 (5)
- August 2011 (5)
- July 2011 (5)
- June 2011 (5)
- May 2011 (5)
- April 2011 (5)
- March 2011 (5)
- February 2011 (5)
- January 2011 (5)
- December 2010 (5)
- November 2010 (5)
- October 2010 (5)
- September 2010 (5)
- August 2010 (5)
- July 2010 (5)
- June 2010 (5)
- May 2010 (5)
- April 2010 (5)
- March 2010 (5)
- February 2010 (7)
- January 2010 (7)
- December 2009 (5)
- November 2009 (6)
- October 2009 (6)
- September 2009 (4)