Lightweight design par excellence – the fight against kilos

  • Posted by Gerhard Pramhas
  • On 19. April 2017

leichtbau-gerhard-pramhas

The aim of lightweight design technology is clear: maximal weight reduction should not only reduce fuel consumption and cut emissions, but above all reduce costs and increase profits in the long term. However people often underestimate the difficulty of the path leading to that goal. Let’s look at the phenomenon of lightweight design and find out about the added value it can bring to your company, using a concrete example.

The phenomenon of lightweight design sounds easy in theory, but in practice it involves several complex processes. Ideas, teamwork, research, development and decisions are only a few of the variables that predict a higher profit as the result of the equation.

Easy results require strong decisions

A great challenge in lightweight design is to take into account the many dependent variables and to set the right priorities. Experience has shown that questions will arise in the company, such as: materials, manufacturing techniques or development processes – what is actually important? How do I recognize typical time-eaters in daily production? Which stages of development have the greatest potential for savings? I can help answer all these questions and I would like to explain my work to you using an example:

Perfect lightweight design: utopia becomes reality

People often ask me a very specific question when I start my work. In the case of my customer Walter Mauser GmbH (in Breitenau am Steinfelde, Lower Austria), that question was: “What do I need to do to make my utility vehicle driver’s cabin considerably lighter?” And “considerably” means reducing the mass by approximately one third. Not only to reduce the energy required to drive, but also to increase the payload and thus the economic efficiency for the same vehicle mass. In this concrete case, the original vehicle mass was 781 kg, and the electric vehicle had a range of 63 km. I am sure you are eager to find out about the result. I won’t make you wait any longer: the vehicle mass with the lightweight cabin was 692 kg (-11%) after the optimisation process, allowing for a range of 77 km (+22%). Other benefits are that the driver’s cabin is easier to install and offers higher driving comfort. With an additional solar installation on the roof, we could obtain the following results. Vehicle mass with lightweight cabin and solar installation: 720 kg (-8%), range: 98 km (+36%) – admittedly only when the sun shines. The following steps were needed to solve this problem:

  • Ideas and vision: when faced with a problem, we must come up with ideas and proposed solutions. This requires expertise in the integral consideration of alternative materials and manufacturing techniques.
  • Perfect teamwork: the manufacturing process requires coordination between all members involved in the project, with everyone pulling together.
  • Creating and maintaining a structure: R&D processes are often complex and many-sided. Keeping an overview of every step of development is often challenging.
  • Quick decisions: the three first points can only proceed in an organised manner if important decisions are made at the right time.

Are you interested in advanced lightweight design, and would you like to make a consultation appointment? Contact me!

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