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 product development 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.