An innovative hackathon involving Siemens’ engineers and digital tools has helped hydrogen car manufacturer Riversimple reduce the size of its future hydrogen car factory by 20%.
The 48-hour virtual sprint leveraged Siemens expertise in planning and simulation software for manufacturing operations and factory simulation software to design the new production facility due to open in Wales in 2024.
Young engineering talent from Siemens collaborated online to redesign the factory layout for assembly, the levels of automation, number of production staff and shifts required for 24-7 production and energy efficiency.
The engineers were able to reduce its original proposals for a 150,000 square ft factory by 20% and accelerate Powys-based Riversimple’s ambition to start full production of its Rasa hydrogen electric vehicle in three years, with a capacity of 5,000 vehicles per year.
Chris Foxall, Financial Director at Riversimple, said, “When we announced our long-term strategic partnership with Siemens at the start of the year, we were optimistic of the possibilities that our collaboration could bring in terms of supporting our preparations for full-scale manufacture.
“Through the innovative work of the hackathon and leveraging Siemens’ expertise in technology software and plant simulation, driven by its engineering talent, we have been able to reduce the size of the proposed factory by 20%, saving significant cost from the outset, and supporting our ambitions for environmental sustainability.
“It’s a fantastic outcome from our new partnership, with much more to come as we pursue our goal of creating the world’s most sustainable car factory to build the cars of the future, powered by hydrogen.”
Riversimple: Rethinking hydrogen mobility
For fuel cell technology to work in mobility, Hugo Spowers, founder of sustainable car company Riversimple, believes you need to make a car with a different structural arrangement, with different materials and with a different business model. “Fuel cells are totally different to combustion engines; you can’t persuade a fuel cell to behave like a petrol engine. If you’re really going to work with the characteristics of hydrogen, you’ve got to rethink how we build cars,” Spowers said.
And that’s exactly what he set out to do when he founded Riversimple, then OSCar Automotive, in 2001. Spowers has plans to manufacture 10,000 hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) a year, but he has no intention of selling them – more on that later.
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