In order to develop vehicles and variants faster than what was possible earlier, manufacturers and component suppliers adopt validation processes which allow them to increase the pace of their development work. While both virtual and physical validation techniques are employed for various stages of development, there also is a need to compile all the data that results from such validation.
Such validation processes and instruments are the business of iASYS, which provides software solutions for virtual validation, as well as hardware in the form of physical testing instruments. We spoke with Puren Parekh, Managing Director and CEO, iASYS and PVMsys Infrastructure, on the company's product validation management (PVM) across functions, collection of data and its role in model-based system engineering.
iASYS was set up in 1999 as a company providing automation testing and system engineering solutions, acting as an engineering system integrator. The company helped in automotive technology development through physical validation, predominantly for engines. During the period from 1999 till about 2013, iASYS had also built a complete physical validation product line, with solutions addressing technologies like mechatronics. The focus of iASYS when it began was mainly on physical validation of the engine, and then moved on to powertrain validation, and currently covers complete vehicle validation. The company has divided its offering, in terms of solutions, into two parts. While iASYS provides solutions for engineering and engineering test automation, PVMsys provides PVM solutions.
PRODUCT VALIDATION MANAGEMENT
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) has been spoken about widely in the automotive industry, and it started with product data management and focused on CAD/CAM, said Parekh. While simulation and CAD data was being looked into, and product data was being managed, validation data coming out of physical testing was overlooked. This data is complicated, since complete vehicle development process uses more than a thousand measurements.
Physical validation and related data is important for model-based development. The main complexity in collection of such data is the requirement of cross-functional communication of measurement data. PVM takes care of managing the physical validation data that comes from various testing areas and organising that, so it can be used for the development of a specific model. The Association for Standardisation of Automation and Measuring Systems (ASAM) works on defining standards for storing engineering data as data that is independent of suppliers. Once data from measurement equipment has been recorded, it can be translated into the standard form in order to be further used in any analysis tool, explained Parekh. He added that these standards have been the basis for the development of PVM set, where the validation itself can be modelled.
PVM provides a platform for organising data in terms of a design and validation plan, which can be applied for model-based system engineering. This platform is also capable of managing validation lifecycle data and can complement PLM, as well as Application Lifecycle Management (ALM). The main advantage of PVM is that any engineering data from validation tools can be organised with the PVM platform, even though the platform is independent of each company's test equipment. Parekh noted that PVM is a generic platform with specific domain criteria, and addresses areas of validation from vehicle performance up to engine combustion. The main domains addressed by PVM are powertrain, emissions and performance, indoor/outdoor component testing, noise and vibration, and crash testing. Within the powertrain, PVM addresses validation solutions for internal combustion engines, hybrid and electric powertrains, as well as fuel cell vehicles.
As far as iASYS is concerned, their main area of operations is that of engine testing, which carries both steady state and transient emission testing. Earlier, engine testing systems were completely imported, while currently some of the certification authorities have also started using iASYS equipment, said Parekh. Parekh said that iASYS can be classified as a provider of a collection of competencies for validation of mechatronics, real-time control, electrical, automation software and laboratory-level solutions.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Almost 90 % of the headcount at iASYS consists of engineers, with about 60 % of employees executing development work. The company invests between 10-15 % of its revenues back into R&D, since it undertakes a lot of product development based on various platforms. iASYS is an engineering systems integrator, which brings in its know-how in the automotive testing domain and integrates all its competencies to deliver solutions. Its current range of solutions can be scaled up to any kind of validation and testing concerning powertrains, noted Parekh. He added, however, that PVM requires a high level of discipline and that most of PVMsys' work is done in the UK and Japan. The company also has plans of launching its PVM solutions in the US by May 2017, said Parekh. He added that awareness levels for PVM need to be built up in India, for improved rates of adoption in the market.
Even though solutions from iASYS and PVMsys can be used separately, they are complementary in nature, and address validation problems better when used together. iASYS is also improving both physical testing equipment and validation processes as future solutions for the test benches. In conclusion, iASYS wants to encourage customers to adopt the understanding that test equipment needs to be integrated with validation systems in order to add value to the manufacturing value chain.
Text: Naveen Arul