3,00,000! That was the number of vehicles the Indian auto industry recalled in 2020 because of quality control issues. From faulty fuel pump motors to engines that wouldn’t start, there were a number of reasons for the recalls. While the reasons for recall are many, one thing is certain – efficient and accurate quality control could have prevented the recalls.
This just goes to underscore the importance of quality control in the automotive industry – more so now with the furious pace at which electric vehicles are entering the fray. Now, one of the ways that quality control is ensured in the automotive industry is through the use of metrology, or the scientific study of measurement. While manufacturing is all about integration, metrology ensures precision, especially in the case of the electric vehicle manufacturing sector.
With traditional car manufacturing, quality control checks were also traditional. As these cars had mostly mechanical parts, quality was checked with coordinate measuring machine inspections and these were hugely dependent on a technician’s skill. Now, this can compromise accuracy, reliability, and repeatability, which hits at the very core of efficiency.
The second problem here is that of labour. In today’s tough labour market, there is a clear lack of skilled labour. According to reports, the country is seeing a manufacturing skills gap of nearly 90 million workers. The shortage is more acute in areas where experience and expertise are required to perform effective quality control inspections.
All these problems increased manifold when it comes to quality checks for electric vehicles. EVs have intricate software-controlled electrical-mechanical sub-systems, each of them crucial to the performance of the new vehicles. Doing manual quality checks is virtually impossible.
To add to these challenges, some EV parts are not reworkable. That means if inspectors miss a quality issue, it could halt production. The right use of metrology technology can prevent all of that.
Precision metrology comes into play here as it promises stringent quality control and gives manufacturers full control over their measurement data at every point in production, which they can then use this data to make better decisions and improve traceability.
Metrology is also key to improving production as it allows for every discrepancy to be instantaneously checked, reported, and corrected. This would automatically lead to faster and more accurate quality checks, resulting in faster time to market.
Advanced metrological tools also allow for easy, accurate and real-time inspection of the five core components of electromobility such as:
Advanced metrology is applied to electrode design and offers opportunities to assess and improve structural and dimensional characteristics to enable battery safety.
2. Fuel cell system:
In this system, electricity is generated by a fuel cell using hydrogen. Bipolar plates are a key component here. Each plate has a thickness of around 0.1 – 2mm, metrology methods are needed to ensure measurements are accurate for proper gas distribution.
3. Power electronics:
This is perhaps the driving force in an EV and brings new challenges in the quality assurance process as the system design use small and complex housings which require ultra-high accuracy coordinate measuring machine checks.
4. Electric motor:
Accurate measurement of the rotor bearing points is crucial to the smooth running of an electric motor. Ultra-high accuracy optical coordinate measuring machines offer high measurement accuracy and repeatability.
5. Gearing system:
Gears come in a wide range of sizes and types as well as materials and finishes. Within each of these categories, there are many unique and precise measurements that need to be made such as tooth count, face width, etc. Metrology helps to make in-depth, fast and accurate measures that result in a decrease in lead times without compromising quality.
At Blue Star E&E, we specialise in delivering highly accurate and reliable integrated metrology solutions for your EV manufacturing operations. Talk to us today to see how we can support you in ensuring consistently high quality in your production line.