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12/02/19

Automotive Retrofitting – An Old Car Is New Again

Automotive Retrofitting – An Old Car Is New Again

Retrofitting in automotive is often a necessary step towards modernization and market competitive boosting. Retrofitting is nothing more than the addition of new technology or features to older systems in order to improve efficiency, add more functionalities or be compatible with the latest environmental demands. Here’s how automotive can benefit from that process.

Retrofitting is a must, since not every company can afford a new assembly line for example, at least not in a given timeframe. Plus it’s a huge waste of money – why throw away good machinery, if what can you do to save it, sums up in one word: upgrade?

Industrial machinery has a lifespan; it usually lasts from 15 to 30 years. In the meantime, trends and market demands change. Products like industrial computers, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and software have to be the center of attention while thinking about Industry 4.0 in a modern factory. Here are some examples of how and why it can be done.

A company can:

  • Add an emission control device to reduce emissions within the engine exhaust. It’s called a ‘diesel retrofit’; it allows for elimination up to 90% of pollutants. The list of emission control devices that are covered by this program include exhaust gas recirculation, diesel oxidation catalyst, diesel particulate filters and more
  • Enable information and communication (ICT) infrastructure of machinery
  • Use smart data, for example predictive maintenance
  • Create human and machine interaction via smart interfaces
  • Enable mobile devices usage via dashboards
  • Enable Auto ID program with radio frequency identification (RFID) solutions

Clear benefits from retrofitting includes:

  • Substantial cost optimization
  • Legacy machinery repurposing or further exploitation
  • Communication with legacy machinery
  • Smart working environment
  • More and real-time data about the current state of the business – flaws, opportunities for optimization, savings, necessity for maintenance, etc.

Since data is the corner stone of everything Industry 4.0, it’s no surprise that retrofitting can and should utilize this principle’s capabilities. Let’s go even further – without retrofitting, companies are doomed with buying new machines because the old ones lack needed functionalities. Often there is no need for new equipment, it’s the matter of adding a few sensors (also called beacons) here and there and equipping the company with the right software to gather and process data. An extension of an existing machine park can be sufficient enough to support a networked system.

This approach can manifest in the most surprising ways. Google’s Self-Driving Car project, that should be ready to launch by 2020, exemplifies the capabilities of a smart retrofitting. A Toyota Prius was equipped by Google with driverless technology based on sensors. They can detect objects and steer the car around them. The AI-powered solutions is called Google Chauffeur. This artificial intelligence software processes information and predicts how objects around the car can behave in relation to the ‘driven’ car. Then it makes decisions about how the car should respond.

It doesn’t end there. Retrofitting in automotive can also facilitate the adoption of mobility. Connected mobility, to be exact. Communication and processing of information among vehicles and infrastructure (warehouses, showrooms, etc.) is the future for this sector. Consider this – an average age of a car roaming Europe’s roads is just around 10.7 years, at least that’s what the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) report on vehicles usage tells us. That means a lot of potential for connectivity, smart apps, Industry 4.0-related features. Retrofitting can benefit all interested parties in a number of ways:

  • Car owners can afford more user-centric technology in cars
  • Car service providers can get a bigger market share
  • Technology providers can generate higher revenue
  • Car manufacturers can improve future vehicles but analysing data on car exploitation gathered from drivers

Let’s see what examples can be driven out of that mindset:

  • Telematics. From roadside assist, through remote control of the vehicle, to vehicle diagnostics. All can be realized with the help of an on-board intelligent device, embedded into one’s car
  • Data-enhanced automatic functionalities. Tapping into embedded sensors and working with data pulled out of them is tricky; it involves intervention from the car manufacturer. A good example would be the eCall Plug from Bosch. This device is plugged into a car’s cigarette lighter. Intelligent algorithms and sensors gather crash data from Bluetooth, then a smartphone app automatically transmits an accidents location to an emergency call center. In case the device or a car gets damaged enough, the driver can use a manual help request
  • Infotainment. Through partnerships and probable subscription models, an infotainment system can be an easily achievable option for companies to retrofit their cars. Systems like Apple’s Car Play and Android Auto, Verizon’s Hum and T-Mobile’s SyncUP DRIVE not only convert vehicles into mobile Wi-Fi zones, but also futureproof them for client’s needs and passions.

Updating a factory for demands presented by Industry 4.0 is not easy. Connectivity is still limited, therefore communication can prove to be a real challenge. Machines have to communicate and provide an extended amount of data for managers and workers. It requires networking involving components, assembly lines and overall machine park and finally whole factories. Analysis and comparing the data is essential here, it will allow for further process optimization. Another important aspect involves monitoring of an equipment’s efficiency in order to run diagnostics and improvement of upgrades introduced by retrofitting.

The Automotive industry can clearly improve sales by offering affordable solutions to their customers but that requires not only hardware. All visible change run on software and requires a reliable partner. That’s where CSHARK comes in, offering high-quality Polish software development expertise and nearshore software development teams available on-the-spot. We can help with the code, build it from scratch and help with implementation.

Do you have a project? Contact us!