Box-built electronic modules have an important role to play in the manufacture of electric vehicles, whether they’re supplied in fully tested ready-to-go plug-and-play form, or as partially built modules to be completed and tested by the customer using their own facilities. For vehicle manufacturers, box-built modules minimise the need for in-house electronic production and, provided that the right supplier is chosen, they are backed by supportive expertise and experience.
Five questions for a successful box-build
For a successful box-build project, however, there are some important questions that customers need to ask themselves and their potential suppliers:
1 - What is the scope of the project?
What is the function of the module? This needs to be fully and accurately defined. How is the module to be presented? Is it to be delivered as a plug-and-play unit, or as a partially completed assembly? If the latter, how much testing needs to be done by the supplier prior to delivery? What about enclosures and encapsulation? What sort of environment will the module be required to operate in?
2 - How much support will the supplier provide?
Will the customer provide a finished design along with PCB layouts, BOM’s etc? Or will they work with the supplier from an early stage in development to optimise choice of components, manufacturability and testability? Does the module supplier have the right expertise to provide the level of support required? Will the module supplier continue to provide effective support throughout the whole life cycle of the modules?
3 - Is the supply chain viable?
Given the current shortages of many electronic components, has the BOM been check for potentially problematic parts? Does the module supplier have the right industry contacts around the world to minimize the impact of the shortages? Can the supplier use its experience to suggest alternatives components or design modifications that avoid the need for hard-to-source parts?
4 - Have all design aspects been considered?
Concentrating on functionality and performance is important and understandable, but they’re not the only key aspects of module design for EV applications. Are the module dimensions compatible with space available for installation? Has the thermal performance been fully evaluated? Have steps been taken to minimize weight?
5 - Is the module supplier an innovator?
EV technology is moving fast; vehicle manufacturers looking for success must keep up with this rapid change. That means they need module suppliers that are ready to innovate and even to drive innovation. Those suppliers must be willing and financially able to invest in new technologies and new manufacturing techniques, exploiting them to provide maximum benefits for their customers.
To sum up
Though the environmental imperatives are clear, the manufacture of electric vehicles that compete effectively with their internal combustion engine counterparts presents innumerable challenges. Many of these challenges can, however, be addressed efficiently and cost effectively by buying-in sophisticated electronic systems as box-built modules. This blog post has suggested questions that should be answered if this approach is to work smoothly and deliver the best results.
To find out more, see our blogs on box build for EVs and discover how we manage EV projects and real application stories.