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Rockwell Automation Opens Electric Vehicle Innovation Center in Silicon Valley

Rockwell Automation EV Innovation Center, electric vehicles, EVs, IoT, augmented reality, manufacturing, robots, smart manufacturing
The industrial automation company, Rockwell, aims to help EV start-ups on their way to market by creating an EV Innovation Center designed to show automakers how to start and improve their production systems.

Rockwell Automation has opened an Electric Vehicle (EV) Innovation Center in San Jose within the company’s Information Solutions development facility. The EV center intends to provide live manufacturing demonstrations, hands-on trials utilizing new technology, and events showcasing collaboration with industry experts and Rockwell partners.

Demonstrating autmented reality technology at the Rockwell Automation EV Innovation Center. (Image source: Rockwell Automation)

Rockwell will utilize augmented and virtual reality modeling at the EV Innovation Center to provide automotive start-ups and established manufacturers an environment to learn new technologies and standards. The goal is to enable them to deliver electric vehicles to market faster, with less risk, and at lower cost.

Working with Rockwell Partners

Rockwell intends to use the combination of the company’s technology with partner technology to make the center unique. Specifically, Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, is an integrated solution that combines software from PTC and Rockwell Automation. Similarly, Eagle Technologies provides the battery pack assembly machine, and FANUC furnishes robot technologies. All of these are integrated with Rockwell Automation technology.

Hirata, a turnkey assembly line builder, will provide an assembly cell to demonstrates electric drive unit assembly and testing. Emulate 3D, Rockwell Automation’s simulation software, will be used to prototype and test machines before they’re built. Teamtechnik will perform functional testing to confirm performance before building the drive chain into the electric vehicle.

Building on the Rockwell Ecosystem

Rockwell saw it as important to include partners in the EV center. “This is not an innovation center singularly showing Rockwell technology. In order to be valuable we have to leverage the power of our ecosystem,” John Kacsur, automotive and tire industry VP at Rockwell Automation, told Design News. “We have two major pieces of equipment in automotive. One is Hirata. They offers demos in drive chain. We have Engle Technology for battery and test. The ecosystem is what makes this powerful. We’re showing actual suppliers in our facility.”

The EV center will also demonstrate the use of advanced manufacturing technology, including PTC’s IoT systems as well as augmented reality. “We have some of the PTC augmented reality designed into the machinery,” said Kacsur. “You can see how some of these new capabilities can be used by including actual suppliers.”

Using Tech to Get to Market Quickly

The aim of the center is to demonstrate how advanced manufacturing technology can help EV companies produce vehicles efficiently and get to market quickly. “A lot of the capabilities around simulated reality and augmented realty are employed,” said Kacsur. “All of the technology enables analytics. That’s on display in the context of analytics at the edge and in the cloud. Batteries are the technology moves to an EV drive chain, so that’s why we show an EV manufacturing set up.”

Rockwell chose Silicon Valley because it has become a growing area for the development of electric vehicles. “The idea originated because the San Francisco Bay area has become Detroit West. It was important for Rockwell to have a presence and be local to our customers. We’re tracking 100 EV start-up companies. We want to engage with all of them and help them build a plant as soon as possible,” said Kacsur. “The EV start-ups are in a race. In many respects Tesla has captured the consumers interest and opened up the market race. The sooner that EV companies can get to market and launch, the sooner they can get some market share.”

Kacsur, noted that Rockwell wants to focus on companies that are moving from prototype to manufacturing. “When it’s time to scale up and build a large quantity at a lower cost, that’s when we can help,” said Kacsur. “We can leverage IoT to fully connect their enterprise. That will drive efficiencies -- more uptime and less downtime, predictive maintenance, and more throughput. All of this is possible as we leverage the assets from all the partners.

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!

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