Carving a Niche in Automotive R&DMon, 09/01/2014 - 14:43
Q: What automotive industry projects is IPICYT currently involved in?
VE: IPICYT is highly interested in pursuing collaborations with automotive companies. For example, IPICYT conducts investigation processes for defective parts for certain Tier 1 suppliers to help them identify the source of the problem. We also focus on other interesting areas, such as the development of magnetic materials that can be used in several components like engines. Another area of interest concerns special coating materials, which can be made to be light-sensitive, as well as producing self- healing materials that could be automatically repaired after a slight scratch.
DRJ: The relationship between IPICYT and automotive companies around San Luis Potosi was established last year. We expect this interaction to increase in the future, it is just about showing them the interesting projects we can offer the industry. Some of our scientists are working on fuel cells that could improve energy management in electric vehicles, as well as improve the distribution of the vehicle’s weight and its performance. In another project with Metalsa, we are looking to reduce the weight of the chassis and improve fuel efficiency for heavy vehicles. Our researchers are identifying what metals can be modified, and how to develop a composite of polymers and metal to reduce the weight. Valeo is also interested in gaining access to IPICYT’s supercomputer center in order to improve its product structuring modelling (BOM). It currently sends physical data with needed configurations to be made in France, after which French engineers make the necessary changes and send the data back. This process can take up to a week, but with IPICYT’s capabilities, the waiting time could be reduced to days, or even hours.
VE: Our computer center is highly developed as it has several capabilities, from software design to processing large amounts of data. When making a design for an auto part, models are required and a supercomputer facilitates the process of calculations and information management. If automotive companies do not have a supercomputer themselves, they have to send the information to third parties.
Q: How do you support small automotive companies aiming to pursue technological innovations?
DRJ: We have a specific program, Stimulus for Innovation, which is focused on SMEs, although large companies can play a part in it too. This is a good way of establishing relationships with SMEs in order to support them in their intellectual property and R&D development. Through this program SMEs receive 60% of the total project budget from federal resources, leaving them to pay only 40% of the total project development costs. The strategy to enhance interaction between SMEs, R&D centers, and universities came from the federal government to stimulate the participation of SMEs in the industry.