Why is weight loss such a hot topic?
With the drive to manufacture more economical vehicles; there will be no avoiding the issue of weight reduction in the coming years.On more traditional builds, reducing weight plays a large part in increasing performance and fuel economy of a vehicle. In a guide written by the RAC on car fuel economy it states that; “on average, every 50kg will increase your fuel consumption by 2%”.
With ever rising fuel costs, the manufacturers that can provide the best value to their customers will ultimately make more sales than the ones that can offer less value. That’s why manufactures are going to great lengths to reduce the weights of their vehicles.
A recent application of Formoa® 017FE to bond a composite floor to a trailer chassis resulted in a saving of 400Kg per vehicle. Working collaboratively with Forgeway enabled another customer to successfully implement bonded frameless engine door systems on double decker vehicles, resulting in a reduction of vehicle weight of 80kg.
What does weight loss mean for the future of bus and coach manufacturing?
If we take a look into the future, electric will most certainly be playing a larger role in the landscape of vehicle manufacturing. Governments have started to publish more ambitious targets to combat climate change in the coming years. Companies like Volvo have announced from 2019 onwards all of their cars will be partially or completely battery-powered. Surely we can conclude that any vehicle manufacturer who is not considering the significant role that electric will play in the market’s future will get left behind.
These new targets and trends toward more economical vehicles throws the issue of weight into the limelight. One of the biggest constraints for the use of electric vehicles as an alternative to their traditional fuel counterparts is the range. The limited technological capacity of current energy storage systems have implications on the size of battery needed for automotive and transportation and therefore affects the overall weight of the vehicle. The weight of the vehicle has a direct impact on the stored energy needed to move the vehicle, and therefore affects range.
New government targets will be driving the urgency for increased investment in improving capacity in smaller batteries as well as increased investment into the infrastructure of electric charging points across the globe.
What can manufacturers to do prepare for the future?
As previously mentioned, decreasing the weight of vehicles is a focus for many manufactures as a vehicle’s operating range is intrinsically linked with vehicle mass. A lighter bus allows for the inclusion of a larger battery, giving extended range. It can also result in a greater passenger carrying capacity or payload.
We have seen trends towards the exploration of new lighter material and solutions. Simply using less material has implications on structural quality. Companies are investing in research into solutions such as scandium additions for strengthening as well as increasing the use of materials such as GRP.
We are also seeing a trend toward fully bonded vehicle options. This is enabling the reduction of heavy mechanical fixings. Fully bonded system often have the added benefit of improving the vehicle’s aerodynamics with the use of lightweight deflectors and capping components.
Investment in high tech systems to ensure vehicles operate under optimum conditions for maximum fuel efficiency are also becoming increasingly common.
Forgeway’s battery weight challenge
A recent project involved fitting battery packs to the roof of a vehicle so as not to take up valuable passenger carrying space. This resulted in the need for additional roof strengthening; achieved by injecting the box sections with high performance epoxy filler with the additional benefit of reducing the weight by 150kg.
The cost of compromise.
There are often cost implications with new lightweight, high performance materials driving up the overall cost of the build. The fast pace of manufacturing can also see companies looking for quick fix solutions for weight reduction. More and more adhesive manufacturers are developing lightweight adhesives to compete for this “quick fix” business, but the use of these can have negative implications on performance. The addition of glass or plastic bubbles to one component adhesives can reduce the weight of the adhesive by a significant amount, but this comes hand in hand with a significant reduction in strength.
Forgeway have been taking steps to support their customers by training their operatives in intelligent use of adhesives which can result in up to a 30% reduction in adhesive use. That’s a 30% decrease in weight and adhesive costs with no compromise on adhesive performance.
The use of new materials in manufacturing creates new challenges with sourcing compatible products such as adhesives. Often primers are needed which can raise health and safety concerns due to the amount of VOC’s present. Forgeway’s Formoa® range offers a primer-less option for key assembly processes such as glass bonding.
Collaboration is key
What are the options for those manufacturers that are trying to future proof their business? We are very much stepping into uncharted territory in manufacturing for the future so it is absolutely key that that companies who are driving innovation work together.
Forgeway’s focus is very much on adhesives for transportation. We work collaboratively with our clients to look at sustainable and innovative solutions that will help companies move towards a more profitable future.
If you work in manufacturing and want to know more about Forgeway’s innovative products get in touch now.
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