August 10, 2022

KIT launches the AgiloDrive project on an agile production system for electric motors

In Germany, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has launched AgiloDrive, a project to develop new kits of electric motor production products and technologies for direct transfer to industry. The Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics, Labor and Housing is financing the pilot phase of the project with around 1 million euros.

Currently, electric motors are mainly produced in small numbers or with low productivity in partially automated workshops, where some processes are carried out manually, or on highly specialized but very inflexible transfer lines. Often, teams of experts design and optimize certain stages of industrial development processes for electric motors, with virtually no transfer to other areas, KIT said.

An electric motor for EV adapted to the installation space. (Picture: Schaeffler)

The AgiloDrive research project aims to develop a new agile production system based on product- and production-specific modular technologies.

In this way, we will enable the flexible, but still economically efficient production of different models and numbers of electric motors based on different technologies in the future. This will allow the use of cost reduction scale effects for various product series and manufacturing technologies.

—Professor Jürgen Fleischer, Director of the wbk Institute of Production Science at KIT

AgiloDrive is an inter-institute project of the KIT Mobility Systems Center. The project is managed by wbk, the project partners are the Institute of Product Engineering and the Institute of Electrical Engineering of KIT. The industrial partners are Schaeffler Automotive Buehl GmbH Co. KG and Gehring Technologies GmbH. The National Agency for Electric Mobility Baden-Württemberg (e-mobil BW GmbH) is an associated partner.

All partners will pool their know-how throughout the development process and supply and process chains.

2020_030_Agile Produktionssystem for E-Motoren

Produced using new manufacturing technology: Prototype stator with a compact flat wire winding. (Photo: Gehring)

An agile production system based on an integrated product development process will be decisive for the economic success of our flexible approach.

—Professor Fleischer

The system is capable of change and characterized by modular manufacturing elements, standardized interfaces and scaling concepts. In this way, it can respond flexibly to changing market and technology requirements. This reduces entrepreneurial risk, as investments can be dynamically adapted to actual demand thanks to the modular structure and costs can be reduced across different product series and manufacturing technologies.

This will allow an economically efficient integration of electric mobility in the energy and mobility transition despite volatile markets.

—Professor Thomas Hirth, KIT Vice President for Innovation and International Affairs

The AgiloDrive project team will work on three parallel partial projects:

  • An integrated product kit based on modular and robust structures and flexible development and design methods.

  • Structures and technologies needed for flexible systems.

  • Commercialize the production system using agile project management methods, so that the results of the research project can be transferred to industrial scale.

In addition, partial solutions as well as the complete system for the agile product development and production process will be validated technically and economically.

Investments in production facilities must be economically efficient. For this, a high utilization rate must be ensured in the long term, even if the volumes requested by customers for individual applications will remain volatile.

—Thomas Pfund, President of the E-Systems Business Unit of Schaeffler Automotive

The results of the AgiloDrive project will be made available to industry. In this way, solution approaches will be quickly transferred to application in self-funded projects.

This agile production system will enable medium-sized machine and plant engineers as well as suppliers in particular to successfully manage the transformation process towards electric mobility and participate in new markets.

—Dr. Sebastian Schöning, CEO of Gehring Technologies