An Interview with Mr. Rolf Salomon,Global Sales Manager KULI at MAGNA Powertrain
MAGNA, Engineering Center Steyr (ECS), Austria, and their KULI Simulation Software India partner MAXradSOFTware Pvt Ltd; recently organized seminars in Bangalore and Pune on ‘Automotive Thermal & Energy Management using KULI software’. Over 70 delegates from automotive industry attended the event in Pune, India. This seminar serves as a platform for users to understand KULI’s product roadmaps, key release highlights etc. and to interact with technical experts.
I had a chance to meet Mr. Rolf Salomon, Global Sales Manager KULI at Magna Powertrain– ECSalong the sidelines of the event. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
Please tell about your company?
Mr. Rolf Salomon: Sure, the company Steyr-Daimler-Puch was founded in 1864 as a rifle manufacturer, but became known as Steyr-Werke AG in 1924.Later, the company began producing bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, automobiles, tractors, trucks and buses. Its early years were dominated by three big names – Steyr, Daimler and Puch (merged with Puch and Austro-Daimler to form Steyr-Daimler-Puch), which formed the Austrian roots of MAGNA.
The Government Company Steyr-Werke was leading producer of Trucks and tractors for decades. In 1998 the company was privatized, MAGNA brought the company and sold some part of it. The truck segment is now MAN Motors and tractor segment is New Holland tractors.
Today, MAGNA is one of the leading automotive suppliers with more than 1.70 Lacs of employees working worldwide. Then we have sub-divisions – one division is MAGNA Powertrain that deals with the components for conventional powertrain, combustion engines, alternative powertrain, hybrid systems and electrical systems. One step down is our company ‘Engineering Center Steyr’.Our Company is based in Austria with 640 employees dealing with company’s vehicle engineering, testing facilities and simulation work. There are around 100 people working on the development of various Software products required in-house for MAGNA and for external customers. Our KULI team of 20 professionals work under this department.
We certainly can look back on an exciting history and we know that our strong heritage is the base for our innovative solutions for tomorrow.
Tell us more about the KULI Simulation Solution?
KULI is the 1D-Simulation tool for the vehicle thermal and energy management having various modules that deals with the different systems. We have KULI base for engine cooling system, KULI hvac for AC simulation, KULI drive for transient simulation including an engine model, KULI eco for electric vehicles, KULI advanced with automatic optimization routines and for interfaces and KULI components. For decades, the automotive sector is utilizing KULI for the efficient energy management. It is used for the development of an intelligent cooling system for the combustion engines, used to optimized HVAC systems, Battery conditioning, CO2 – Optimization. Our product supports engineers to achieve their goals in a very short time. KULI is the solution for passenger cars, trucks, trains, construction and farm machines and other industrial applications.
KULI simulation software runs on the windows platform. 1D has its own advantages – it saves time with very short calculation time. One can make thousands of variations in a day and find the best configuration. KULI does not require costly hardware. Implementing KULI in the initial stages of the product development increases scope of error detection recognizes product limitations and optimizes system performance, when the price of iterations is still nominal.
KULI is offered in separate modules so that the customer would have option to select tools that meet their requirements and save on the cost. If some company is only dealing with AC systems they can go for KULI HVAC module instead of purchasing the complete package. The customer can buy KULI as a permanent license or can lease it as per their requirement.
What are the latest trends in engineering simulations in the Automotive Industry?
The Automotive manufacturers worldwide are facing the challenges of environmental legislations. Consumer expectations are changing radically. The vehicle manufacturers are continually identifying value-added high-tech functionalities to improve fuel consumption, engine, transmission, AC system, passenger comfort systems and electrical and electronic systems. New technologies are dramatically changing vehicles, from the advent of the ‘connected car’ and enhanced driver support to better fuel efficiency and new or improved powertrain. So manufacturers leverage the power of engineering simulation to address these and other challenges in a fast, cost-effective, risk-free manner.
As a complex technological product with tough environmental legislations, the automobile has experienced a constant evolution in its technical characteristics, whether by improving basic technologies, adding new fields of technology or developing new designs.
In Europe, we have very tough legislations for combustion engines, fuel consumption and passenger safety. Customers are continuously demanding for the higher Engine power in vehicles. So OEMs faced challenges in developing high-power engine as well as following the strict fuel consumption norms that is around 120gms for 100KMs that may further go down to 80gms in next three years. The OEMs have to work on sub-systems to achieve these targets.
The next big challenge is for the battery electric vehicles. In combustion engine applications we have faced the only limits for the top tank temperature of 120 degrees Celsius for passenger cars and 105 degreesfor trucks. Now, we have additional components to manage additional temperature. We have lots of components that need to be cooled. We have to manage around 60 degrees Celsius for the electric motor/generator and power electronics, battery feeds at 30 degrees Celsius. For hybrid vehicles as well for battery electric vehicles we have to manage these different temperature levels or else the components may damage.
On the refrigerant side, there it’s not an easy task anymore due to increasing global warming norms. Maintaining the global working potential to 30 is very important and that leads to find alternative refrigerants. There are two solutions at present in the market. One is CO2 which has the global worming potential of 1, so it’s the best match for the legislation. It is natural gas and can be used directly is a big advantage. But it also has some disadvantages: it only works at very high pressure level. So we have to develop components considering the high pressure requirement of CO2. Developing CO2 AC systems therefore costs are much higher. CO2 is mostly used in higher segment cars at present. The alternative refrigerant offered on the market is R1234yf. We also have to take care of the toxic and inflammable gases generated, so selecting a refrigerant that meets all the requirements is a challenging task.
Automotive manufacturers and suppliers are confronted with increasing complexity as a result of increasing numbers of products and options, shorter technology cycles, increasing pressure to innovate and global supply networks.
And at the same time they need to balance the needs and demands of customers, investors and regulators. But without pressure, there would be no diamonds. Tough competition makes efficiency, inventiveness, flexibility and decisiveness mandatory. KULI solutions enable automotive engineering teams to develop groundbreaking end-to-end designs while delivering a high level of product reliability and integrity.
What difference you see in development of vehicles in India and Europe?
The automotive industry is a growing industry. It has broken record after record in recent years, with no end in sight. Sales and production in India are booming. I think Indian legislations for safety, fuel consumption and environment safety are much behind the European countries. In Europe, we have Euro 6 now and in India you still follow the norms that are equivalent to Euro 4. It would take 5 more years for Indian vehicle manufacturers to reach Euro 5 and Euro 6 norms. China is no different from India. For construction and agricultural equipments we have TF4 legislation that is equivalent to Euro 4. US and Europe are at the same level. Sometimes in US they are quicker especially in some regions like California. They have very strict emission legislation.
The German, Japanese and US car makers have their plants in India now. India has become a major exporter of vehicles to Asian and African countries. Many companies are developing their R&D centers here in India. I think companies are taking initiatives to close the gap between the domestic and foreign auto quality and technology.
What role KULI plays in development of electric vehicles?
With an ever increasing public awareness of “green” issues, zero-emission, diverse energy sources, low noise and low thermal radiation electric vehicles are becoming a major alternative. Auto makers focused on the development of electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles and other kinds of new energy vehicles.
We have lots of customers in this segment, mostly German automotive companies. Few new players from US and China have entered recently. The Tesla Motors is developing very innovative electrical cars, companies like Apple and Google are also coming up with a completely new business model they are working on connected and autonomous vehicles.
Designing a cooling system in electric cars is the biggest challenge. Batteries are often unappreciated when they work as designed, but harshly criticized when they don’t live up to expectations. The electric car batteries are big and heavy and contain a large number of cells. For Tesla S Model they have around 6500 cells in a battery. All the cells must have almost same temperature otherwise if one cell is damaged whole battery may not work. Anything more reactive or unstable could be a hazard. Maintaining the temperature of cells is important to increase the lifespan of the battery.
If you compare it with Diesel cars and have an engine damaged the same price is required to change the battery setup. So at present the companies do not sell the battery but they lease it and have replacement guarantee.
Labs around the world are utilizing KULIeco trying to overcome the drawbacks. The hope is that greater emphasis on “beyond lithium-ion” technologies will ensure faster progress in their development, and in the long-run faster cars that travel farther. Despite the current shortcomings of batteries, the potential global impact that even relatively moderate improvements can have is astonishing.
What is your strategy and road map for India?
India offers tremendous potential for innovative product development and KULI’s global experience can be leveraged. KULI’s focus in India is to deliver solutions that allow its clients to rapidly experiment with their ideas by evaluating options and trade-offs in near-real time. We have started here with MAXrad SOFTware (India) Pvt Ltd as our solution partner; we want to improve our local footprints in India with their support. We will interact with the Indian auto manufacturers by conducting seminars, training sessions and user meetings in all major cities in India.
How different is KULI software from other CAE tools?
KULI is developed by engineers for engineers. Our KULI team develops new tools for the internal use of MAGNA, after proven results it is made available to the global customers. We are specializing in energy and thermal management. We have a modular structure that is tailored to customer needs. Our workflow is easy to use and provides results in very less time compared to others. We have Uniform Component Library, Extendable Media Library, Unit Converter, Optimization Package, Software Interfaces with Matlab/Simulink, Excel and CFD codes.
Today, KULI’s use not just restricted to automotive industry it is also used by other sectors. KULI is utilized from concept to final results. Our tool is utilized to evaluate the energy consumption of different thermal management strategies & new product concepts giving measurable energy economy & secondary benefits with an optimized balance between significant thermal control and cost, weight and size. It is easy to evaluate multiple configurations using parameter variation in KULI. Using our solution customers overcome the challenges in product design, especially in engine design, powertrain – with combustion engine as well as alternative – and AC systems.
How is training provided on the KULI Software in India?
Experts from Austria come to India to provide in-house training to companies. We provide 3 Month trial version to our customers free of cost. We are planning the future training through our re-seller MAXrad SOFTware in India. We will conduct the open training sessions and would partner with top Universities to provide training to students and researchers.
What is the meaning of the word ‘KULI’?
KULI is a German abbreviation, it came 27 years ago. It may not sound best in all countries. Like in India, China and Italy it has got different meaning in local language. KULI means cooler and fan integration. The reason is we started 27 years ago only with radiator and fan.
I would like to thank Mr. Rolf Salomon for taking the time to answer my questions and Mr. Rajeev Gopalakrishnan MAXrad SOFTware (India) Pvt. Ltd. (www.maxsoft-india.com).