KIA: Successful Digital Transformation in Manufacturing Process Engineering, Part I

Driving fundamental changes through the digitalization process

This is part one of a three part series exploring how KIA has researched the current technologies which enable expanded digitalization in hot stamping processes on business and supplier levels.

See Part Two | Part Three | This is Part One

“Digital transformation” is a buzz word but we also want to know what exactly means for my job process engineering and what rapidly comes into across the departments and companies. And the advantages? Increase efficiency, greater business agility, and the unlocking of new value for all of us, OEMs, material suppliers, tool and part suppliers… Well, our team members know those are important but still, we are not clear to see what changes in our life.

Back to our daily job, We know very well we are facing many practical failures of production while we are working hard on competitive products and business success with savings. We know very well everybody relies on our job. But we believe our job is very difficult to be digitalized because it is very sophisticated in the complicated way of handling microscopic countermeasures, comprehensive insights, and broad communications, deep knowledge of specific topics, so on.  One day, we came across the word of “Digital Die Spotting”, then we simply asked what that means. Because we know very well what die spotting is, our question is going to be somehow sarcastic remarks for “not possible digitally” without any help of hand skills and of course, “many doubts about simulation accuracy”.

Introducing the concept of AutoForm digitalization and physics-driven digital twins, AutoForm Korea bravely proposed the project of digital transformation showing very simple starting with ready-to-start software architecture for full digitalization and its transformation. Two articles (on consistency and data architecture) help to see somehow what is software systems for digital transformation.

An idea is a simple approach to the extended use of software systems for active visual engineering outcomes across all departments. All data, such as material, geometry, forming process, process layouts, standards, tribology, quality assessments, and assessment methodology, required in communications across the departments is stored in AutoForm design file; thereby we achieve the connected digital data and keep the digital continuity with visualized engineering outcomes.

Yes, we all are very busy with many jobs in engineering and many different aspects and responsibility are covering for one goal of competitive product success, but simply putting all information into an engineering software system is simple and very easy to do digital transformation, if a system can automatically support that connection.   Interestingly, AutoForm supports the data connection for simulation updates and furthermore, guides the conversation among departments for that real-time updates. 

We knew DX is likely to see significant improvements in operational efficiencies as intelligent connect systems on all engineering & manufacturing activities across all organizations including suppliers. Admittedly, car product competitiveness is based on the strength of entire supply chains and car makers should take the lead in orchestrating the supply chains to maximize efficiency and to get the innovative product to market.  Nevertheless, a software system is ready to exploit digital transformation, we need to lead the collaborative project with very clear definitions of goals, roles, and jobs.    

Figure 1. AutoForm GUI for engineering conversation and simultaneous updates

The goals

  1. We have been investigating materials and manufacturing processes for new car projects and our team process engineering has been using hot forming processes and materials for crashworthiness and drivability. Meeting the branch-out component requirement of strength and stiffness to a full car structure is an essential goal for product performance.
  2. Manufacturing process design must be very flexible for the component design changes during the whole engineering phase. Building a digital process model is another goal for the engineering change request process.
  3. To fulfill the product quality criteria such as dimensional accuracy with thickness and springback, developing an innovative engineering process with the digital system is an important goal for the digital transformation strategy. The process approach in ISO 9001:2015 is applied with AutoForm guideline feature.
  4. For great business success and agility, quantifying the time and cost savings in tool design, milling, and tool tryout is the minimum target over the goals

 The roles

  1. KIA (Forming & Engineering team, Owner: Kyounghoon Choi)
    1. Select car models & parts and lead the project
    2. Implementing risk-based engineering with upstream and real-time updates
    3. Building a new process of “Hot forming & Digital die spotting to NC modeling”
      • Focusing on PDCA cycle for DX downstream
    4. Qualifying real panels using the new digital model of “Hot forming & Digital die spotting to NC modeling”
      • Validating real panels and quantifying the project benefits
      • Focusing on specific aspects of local cooling speeds with gauge influence
    5. KIA (Forming & Engineering team, Project Manager) & Shinyoung (Tool maker)
      1. Implementing precise spotting set-up and quantifying the spotting status especially where “digital die spotting” is applied
      2. Giving real-time feedback for assessment of the DX process
      3. Executing tool tryout perfectly follows the digital process model (the whole information AutoForm Design file contains)
      4. Reporting the status and gap between digital model and real panel without any additional change
      5. Validating “digital die spotting“ and quantifying the advantages
    6. AutoForm Korea
      1. Providing a full course of AutoForm accurate model setup for “Digital Die spotting” and “Die Spotting NC modeling process” using AutoForm ProcessDesignerforCATIA
      2. Introducing digital model “verification and validation process” using AutoForm guideline standards
      3. Verifying AutoForm Hot Forming results with preparatory talks
      4. Check the final NC model applied “digital die spotting”
      5. Taking part in the tool tryout process and on-site inspection together

With the scope and definitions of “Hot forming & Digital die spotting to NC modeling” project, we get into the project master plan as shown fig2.

Figure 2. The short-term master plan to explore digital transformation

Indeed, to get this master plan, we needed to investigate whether the requirements and specifications clearly had been done with proper physical tests under the relevant test scheme at R&D center.  An actual component test specimen is shown in fig 3 but unfortunately, we can not share the test results and scheme of test for assembled car performance, because of a top secret.

Figure 3. Strength test specimen using a real formed panel (concept testing with prototypes)

Here, we would like to clearly notify this communication with upstream R&D is starting point for full digitalization and its transformation for many advantages; meaning very critical. This is the reason we included this communication in this project, and we realize the material library embedded in AutoForm software system is advantageous to start DX with process engineering. We can trace the materials and manufacturing process together by using AutoForm design file.

Stay tuned – in the next posts in this series, we will expand on the actual digital transformation at car makers and suppliers with software vendor support. The third article will focus on the outcomes and benefits following the second article.