Using digital prototyping and simulation to drive quality and efficiency in automotive design

Virtual prototyping and simulation are revolutionising automotive design, promising enhanced efficiency and improved quality, while reducing costs and time to market. Pressures on supply chains and market competition are pushing manufacturers towards agile methodologies, such as digital prototyping, streamlining development cycles.

The shift in automotive design and manufacturing

Quality and efficiency are paramount in automotive manufacturing, as safety is critical and challenges such as supply chain disruptions, regulatory changes, and the need for rapid innovation are constant.

Digital prototyping enables faster iterations and testing, ensuring quality and safety without compromising speed-to-market; also allowing for easier adaptation to changing requirements, keeping projects within budget and on schedule.

Advancing design with digital twins and simulation technologies

Digital twins: The foundation of virtual prototyping

At the core of zero prototyping lies digital twins, mirroring the physical vehicle in every aspect and enabling the simulation of vehicle behaviours in varied scenarios, from extreme weather conditions to high-impact collisions. For simulation engineers, this provides a sandbox for conducting exhaustive tests under myriad scenarios, including extreme conditions that would be challenging or impossible to replicate with physical prototypes. Advanced simulation software can model the complex interactions between various vehicle systems, allowing engineers to identify potential issues and optimise designs in the virtual realm.

Enhanced design validation with multiphysics simulations

The ability to employ multiphysics simulations is one of the key technical advantages of zero prototyping, integrating various physical phenomena like fluid dynamics, structural mechanics, and electromagnetism into a cohesive analysis. This holistic approach enables a comprehensive understanding of complex interactions within the vehicle system, such as how aerodynamic improvements might affect thermal management or how vehicle weight reductions impact structural integrity.

Real-world application: Enhancing EV battery performance

In the realm of electric vehicles (EVs), zero prototyping facilitates detailed analysis of battery systems to optimise performance, safety, and longevity. Engineers can simulate thermal behaviours under different charging and operating conditions to improve battery life and safety. For instance, leveraging simulation to design battery cooling systems can significantly enhance EV efficiency and range, addressing one of the key consumer concerns about electric mobility.

Streamlining development with AI and Machine Learning

The integration of AI and Machine Learning into the zero prototyping process marks a significant leap forward. These technologies process the massive datasets generated by simulations, identifying patterns and predicting outcomes. For example, machine learning algorithms can optimise structural components for both weight reduction and durability, striking a balance that manual analyses might miss or take much longer to discover.

Practical application: Predictive maintenance and material selection

AI-driven simulations extend beyond design optimisation to predictive maintenance and material selection. By predicting wear and tear on vehicle components, engineering teams can select materials that extend the lifecycle of the vehicle while maintaining safety and performance standards. This predictive approach minimises the risk of failure and ensures that the vehicles are not only efficient but also durable.

Real-world success stories

CLICK THE LINK: Scania and Hexagon: A case study in efficiency

Scania’s implementation of Hexagon’s simulation technology showcases the real-world benefits of simulation and virtual prototyping. By virtualising the design and testing phases, Scania accelerated its innovation cycle, identifying and addressing design challenges 30-40% faster than with traditional methods. This not only streamlined development but also cut costs, illustrating the tangible advantages of adopting advanced simulation tools in automotive manufacturing. Speed-to-market is crucial in the competitive automotive sector, and simulation technologies facilitate this by allowing for rapid innovation and quality control during the design phase.

CLICK THE LINK: Hyundai: Driving forward with electrification

Hyundai has exemplified the cutting-edge application of zero prototyping in automotive safety through the development of their Active Pedestrian Alerting System. Addressing the challenge of electric vehicles being too quiet at higher speeds, Hyundai used Hexagon’s Actran to simulate and refine their alert system with remarkable detail and efficiency. This advanced approach enabled Hyundai engineers to reduce the design timeline by half compared to traditional methods, ensuring the system’s compliance with international safety regulations while optimising for minimal speaker size and power usage.

Embracing the future of automotive manufacturing

For the automotive industry, zero prototyping is not just a methodology but a strategic imperative for the future. It promises a new era of automotive design and manufacturing, where precision, efficiency, and innovation drive the development of vehicles that meet the highest standards of quality and sustainability. As engineering teams navigate this shift, they stand at the forefront of a technological revolution, shaping the future of mobility with every simulation run and every virtual prototype created. To learn more about how the journey to zero prototyping affects quality and efficiency, download our eBook.


  • Ignazio Dentici

    Ignazio Dentici is Vice President, Global eMobility and Automotive at Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division. Prior to joining Hexagon, Ignazio had 16+ years of experience in the automotive industry covering technical and business management roles across global OEM, tier 1 and technology solution suppliers.

  • Join our HxGN LIVE Events Worldwide

    Hexagon hosts exciting HxGN LIVE events around the globe! Experience our technology innovations in a location near you.

  • Recent Posts