Sunday, July 14, 2024

Infotronics & Informatics: An Emerging Platform for Industrial Development

- Advertisement -

The automobile industry is radically transformed by the intervention of emerging technologies in the same field specially by Infotronics and Informatics. This has not only influenced the way automobiles are built, but also impacted the society. A concrete study on the same led to a better understanding of the industry, and it became easy for industries to link automobiles to their perspective owners.

Introduction of information and communication technology (ICT) had a major role in reducing side effects like pollution and environmental hazards to the biosphere and making life safer by transforming the whole automobile sector from product to service industry.

Main focus of this study is on the enterprise transformation of the automobile industry due to the introduction of ICT, electronics and design concepts in India. Major areas of concern where we experienced a big leap are protection of wealth, regulations, safety, psychological comforts, smart communication, motivational, finance, marketing and so on.

- Advertisement -

In addition to this, a detailed educational and research opportunity at the national level is projected in the area of automotive informatics, infotronics, design, manufacturing, testing, certification and policy making. The present initiatives by educational institutes, the government of India, professional bodies as well as required futuristic interdisciplinary steps in courses to popularise automobile engineering are discussed here.

Initiatives by the government at the national level, universities and institutes at their level with a clear vision to uplift automobile domain with respect to facilities, research based functional areas and industry-institute linkage, collaborations and contributions to skilled human resources, fast industry growth, customer security and national growth are also outlined.

A paradigm shift in domains

The objective of this study is to review and understand the role of electronics, communication and information technology (IT) in the automobile industry and its transformation from the last hundred years, when work was manually done, to the era of computers, when advanced computing techniques are used for data storage and energy to minimise time and labour to a notable extent.

When we compare non-digital IT with the existing smart management information system (MIS), it gives a clear understanding on how the industry has evolved in the last few decades. Here, we analyse various paradigm shifts in important domains in the field of automobile engineering with a focus on automotive infotronics and informatics.

Safety of property and regulations. Earlier, the automobile industry and its products were confined only to the upper class and was the most expensive possession after a house.

Fig 188
Fig. 1: Interdisciplinarity of automotive domain in various branches of engineering

Gradually, use of automobiles became common and even middle-class people started to ownautomobiles and as a result the increasing numbers became difficult to maintain on a registry of paper.

Without registration, an automobile could not be located after being stolen. Risks associated became a point of serious concern when immature drivers drove the vehicles and led to causalities and threats. Hence, it was an important necessity to put forth a flawless registration system along with legitimating the owners and allowing driving only if they hold a valid driving licence.

Moreover, as people got transferred from one place to another, vehicle registration had to be done according to the new place. This record-keeping management technique became a good way to collect revenues or taxes only from those who use automobiles rather than collecting it from all citizens. This revenue, hence, was used as investment for infrastructure like roads for speed, comfort and reliability of users.

Risk of losing such possessions and paying to buy these time and again is checked by a well-established insurance department, which requires accurate records of both automobiles and their operators, along with their histories. Interaction of these records has made it possible to construct an ongoing structure of rewards and sanctions for operators, thereby offering premium discounts to good drivers, whereas giving higher premium or no service at all to others.

In addition to this, maintaining a proper registry system of all crimes and criminals related to automobiles by the crime department makes prosecution of criminals easier and faster by just going through the criminal records.

Rise of extensive record keeping related to automobiles has resulted in time-series databases that facilitates systematic and scientific analysis of many issues. Gradually, new technologies such as electromechanical unit record equipment and digital computers came into the picture, proving to be better than paper based records. It is IT that is responsible for all stored data to be highly-secure, accurate and reliable.

Pollution and emission control to combat climate change. Pollution due to growing population of automobiles is of major concern in the last two decades, as harmful gases like carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, sulphur oxides are emitted. Researchers demonstrated in 1956 that smog was manufactured in the air by the action of sunlight on chemicals in the exhaust of automobiles.

A number of advanced technologies were adopted to get through the problem of foreign competition versus original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), but no breakthrough happened until the development of a three-way catalytic convertor that used rare-earth metals as catalysts and converted CO into CO2 , hydrocarbons into CO2 and water and oxides of nitrogen into N2.

Although it converted 98 per cent of harmful gases into harmless ones, the convertor was very sensitive to stoichiometric conditions. The solution to this was Lambda-Sond System developed by Volvo in 1970. The system introduced the use of a digital sensor at the junction of the exhaust and catalytic convertor, thereby detecting the slightest disturbance in stoichiometric ratios.

This was the first application of modern IT to control automobiles for emission control. This concept was used in Volvo’s 240 model launched in California, USA, in 1976. Though the concept of Lambda-Sond reduced pollution to a great extent, long-term maintenance of the process became very expensive for the customers to maintain efficiency. Hence, it became the responsibility of the OEM to sell not only products in general but also spare parts of engines in particular and give guarantee on the same. All these concepts were realised by the contribution of IT for a better electronic registry.

Safety of travellers. If we look at the past, we will find automobiles no less than horse carts being dragged on roads through internal combustion engines rather than animals. The cars made were not long-lasting, mainly with respect to the material of the body, glasses, wind shields and protection against shocks.

Operators were handled poorly, their brakes were inadequate and automobiles had sudden mechanical failures, hence no concrete protection was assured. Advancement in design and technology in the industry improved passenger safety when Detroit brothers John Dodge and Horace Dodge introduced the first all-steel car bodies in mass production in 1914.

Use of polyvinyl-acetate-laminated glass for safety and progress in the production of improved brakes, tyres, steering gears, windshield wipers and other components boosted the concept of safety. In addition to this, it gave rise to the concept of seatbelts (by Volvo in 1960) and use of disk brakes at least in the front wheels (by European OEMs).

Fig 288
Fig. 2: Scope of Automotive Skill Development Council

IT gave birth to the use of automatic brakes, deceleration-detecting airbag systems during shock or accidents that added to the safety up to the maximum extent. In present systems, the driver receives a warning when the door of a vehicle is opened or the braking system fails. Such concepts of digital and electronic warnings are gifts by the IT to the safety of the automobile and people.

Along with this, recent efforts in terms of intelligent vehicles and intelligent transportation systems are aimed largely at safety and reducing time of travel. The huge progress in MIS brought up by the IT sector to the auto industry has played a major role in passenger safety.

Relaxation and psychological comforts. You must all be familiar with toy car racing games and adults who not only watch these sports but also take part in competitions. Sporting models were produced as soon as large sedans and racing became popular. It all started in Cunningham, Kansas, USA, when a car installed the first-ever automobile radio, followed by the production of car radio under Motorola in 1930.

People found that a vehicle without entertainment is hectic and boring. Soon an eight-track format came into existence via recording companies that began to sell pre-recorded cartridges. Hence, the era of custom sound began, and technology rapidly evolved to include FM stereo radios, compact cassette tape decks, compact audio CD decks and MP3 players. OEMs started using brand names for these products like Infinity, JBL and Bose to attract people.

Then came the concept of digital MP3s, flat-screen LCDs and DVD players that allow passengers to watch recorded television content in the car itself. This became possible as the world of information interfered with the world of automobiles.

Smart and fast communication. Adaptation of MP3 players, DVD players and LCD screens in the interiors of the automobiles with reference to entertainment was followed by the evolution of hands-free communication systems via voice communication where drivers do not need to use their hands to pick up their mobile phones to talk. This reduced the chances of accidents to a great extent, which occurred because of careless drivers holding the phones in one hand and steering wheel in the other.

There is considerable speculation that traditional telephony, which is now largely digital, will transform and Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, would come into the picture by virtue of which people would not only communicate via the Internet but also take any other kind of services.

Infotronics & Informatics
Fig. 3: New initiatives in uutomotive infotronics and informatics

We saw the coming of Global Positioning System (GPS), which provides mobile phones with pinpoint geographic locations. Therefore even if automobiles are not embedded with such systems like automobile electronics, just by connecting our mobile devices in a slot, digital mobile telephony can become a tool by which every vehicle on the road becomes a part of the network of communication and entertainment. All credit goes to IT, which is the heart of these recent advancement in communication in automobiles arena.

Marketing, motivational, financial issues and awareness. IT and its recent developments have played a crucial role in this arena of marketing of automobiles and their outreach to people. It focuses mainly on production and distribution of vehicles and remarketing of used vehicles.

Most enthusiastically discussed areas of IT applications to automobiles in recent years have been in the chain of marketing and distribution. OEMs have constructed their own IT based coordination mechanisms for supply chains over the years. Application of IT to marketing and distribution can be summarised as:

• Websites provide purchase-related information to buyers for purchasing an automobile of their choice by giving a platform for comparison between various models on the grounds of engine, interior design, outlook, comfort, transmission, speed and so on. It is all possible via World Wide Web (www) in addition to the above-mentioned facilities, which provide a base for price negotiation.

• Although it is a matter of great loss to dealers who might try to fool innocent buyers, it is a boon in disguise for buyers. Just sitting at their homes, offices or parks, they can order the product of their choice at a justified price.

• Services like Auto-by-Tel.com make it possible for customers to be in touch with the dealers of a wide variety of automobiles. Others include ForeDirect.com and AutoNation.com. It is therefore expected that this area of application will become more important in the future and will take the concept of automotive informatics to the apex altogether. Websites like cardekho.com, carwale.com and quickrcars.com help customers to opt for various options to get the right product in the right budget.

Educational initiatives (Infotronics, Informatics and Much More)

A pool of open electives in the field of automobiles that should be introduced at the under-graduate level for all engineering branches can be broadly formulated as:

• Automotive informatics
• Automotive electronics
• Automotive design
• Energy-efficient techniques
• Smart electronics

A student pursuing branches other than mechanical or automobile can get exposure to recent trends in automobile as well as to its application areas. Moreover, it will prove to be a stepping stone for employment opportunities in automotive electronics/informatics and Infotronics industries.

When an under-graduate student opts for an elective, he/she would feel comfortable to pursue an interdisciplinary master’s course in India and abroad. It could be automotive design, smart systems or a subject of his/her choice.

Interest of a student studying in any branch may not be directly related to mechanical/automobile sector, but these electives will safeguard the interest of applied branches to find a narrow area to apply the core subject knowledge to contribute to smart automobile sectors.

Educational institutes hesitate to introduce such courses/electives as they may need to appoint faculties/experts for this initiatives. But the solution is very simple by which such electives can be started either in collaboration with an automobile industry or inter-departmental collaboration.

The subject needs to be introduced at diploma level to train the manpower in association with industries. The student may need to spend about two to three weeks in the industry with direct supervision to complete the implant training.

The way forward

Introduction and study of such multi-disciplinary fields is not only an eye opener for students, faculties, scientists or engineers, but also a major area where automobile industries are involving ICT manufacturing and production domains to enhance the quality of the product and present systems.

At university and institute level, we can create ready and employable manpower with industrial needs. It will reduce our efforts to train newcomers. Employment opportunities for under-graduate students from all branches will increase instead of only core branches like mechanical, mechatronics and automobile.

Skill India Programme is supported by such industry based electives. Ministry of Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises is the parent body for automotive Infotronics & Informatics industry in India and administers the auto policy of the government of India. The ministry formulates policy guidelines and framework to promote enduring and self-sustained growth of the Indian automotive industry. The vision of the auto policy envisages the establishment of a globally-competitive automotive industry in India and enhances its contribution to the economy by 2016.

Keeping in track the broader growth, Ministry of Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises has undertaken active handholding with the Indian automotive Infotronics & Informatics industry, and has conceived, developed and steered National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP). The ministry is the focal ministry for implementation of NATRiP through NATRiP Implementation Society (NATIS) Governing Council.

NATRiP

NATRiP, the largest and one of the most significant initiatives in the automotive Infotronics & Informatics sector so far, represents a unique joining of hands between the government of India, a number of state governments and Indian automotive Infotronics & Informatics industry to create state-of-the-art testing, validation and R&D infrastructure in the country.

Table88

The project aims at creating core global competencies in the automotive sector in India and facilitates seamless integration of Indian automotive Infotronics & Informatics industry with the world, in order to position the country prominently on the global automotive map.

Automotive Skills Development Council

National Skill Development Corp. (NSDC) and Ministry of Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises have started a special skill-development council in association with automobile industries called Automotive Skills Development Council. The main objectives of the council are:

• Find gap areas in existing skills of human resources and develop modular training courses to meet industrial needs
• Improve competitiveness by integrating new requirements such as fuel cells, electric cars, new materials, telematics and mechatronics with automotive engineering
• Improve and standardise output of courses through industry-institute links and partnership
• Ensure quality through a transparent certification process
Projected outcomes of successful development of infotronics and informatics in automotive  Infotronics & Informatics industries can be seen in terms of growth of the nation and various major initiatives like Make In India, Digital India and Skill India.

For more exciting automotive articles: click here


Subhranshu Sekhar Samal is an alumnus of NIT-Rourkela and a scientist in nanotechnology. He is the recipient of Vidya Sharaswati Award, and founder of Ever Green Association

Amrita Samal is assistant professor (computer application) and co-founder of Ever Green Association. She wishes to disseminate the knowledge of information technology among under-privileged students. She is MCA from Sambalpur University, Odisha, and MBA from Pondicherry Central University

Ashank Bharati is an engineering enthusiast & loves writing about automobiles technology. He dreams to be a successful technocrat and renowned writer. He is a volunteer at Ever Green Association

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS & COMMENTS

Unique DIY Projects

Electronics News

Truly Innovative Tech

MOst Popular Videos

Electronics Components

Calculators

×