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Rare Earth Free Innovative Truck Traction

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - REFITT (Rare Earth Free Innovative Truck Traction)

Reporting period: 2018-03-01 to 2018-08-31

Advanced Electric Machines Ltd is a new, UK technology startup company which is aiming to bring to market the world's most sustainable electric vehicle traction motors. HDSRM, the company's launch product, is a rare earth magnet free traction motor designed for use in commercial vehicles; it offers like-for-like performance to existing permanent magnet based traction motors along with a number of additional benefits. Elimination of rare earths not only results in a step change in product sustainability, it also eliminates the single largest cost element in today's volume produced electric traction motors. Elimination of magnets also means that the motor can operate at higher temperatures without risk of demagnetisation, easing integration into hybrid vehicles, whilst also improving efficiency over the normal operating range of commercial vehicles.

The adoption of technologies such as HDSRM is important to that ensure that as vehicles transition from the use of fossil fuels to electrification, we do not simply replace one set of pollutants, petrol and diesel, with another, rare earth magnets; these magnets are currently used in almost every electric vehicle traction motor a worrying trend as they appear at the top of the EU's list of critical materials. However for any new technology, such as HDSRM, to be incorporated into a product requires and understanding of the best approach to market entry along with significant development and proving. The ReFITT SME Instrument Phase 1 project has therefore been focused on developing a strategy for route to market for this innovative and ground breaking product.

This project has addressed four critical questions for Advanced Electric Machines:
1) How is the electric commercial vehicle likely to establish itself and how should the company therefore position its products to meet the needs of commercial vehicle manufacturers.
2) What product testing and validation is needed to meet market needs, how should Advanced Electric Machines go about demonstrating that the project meets performance requirements (power, efficiency), durability requirements (able to function for the full life of the vehicle) and legislation (for example safety requirements).
3) How should Advanced Electric Machines develop its organisation in order to be an attractive supplier to customers, for example through the implementation of international quality standards such as ISO9001.
4) Finally, how should Advanced Electric Machine's seek to build it's supply chain for motor components, ensuring that these are able to provide EU sourced components to the required standards of quality and cost.
Phase 1 of the ReFITT project has undertaken in order to develop a detailed set of data in order to allow Advanced Electric Machines to build from startup business to commercial vehicle Tier 1 supplier.

These plans encompass market assessment, identifying which customers to target, along with how to approach them, and consider the strength and strategy of Advanced Electric Machine’s competitors. There is focus on developing a costed plans for proving Advanced Electric Machine’s launch product, HDSRM, to industry standards. There is also a recognition that a strong product is not enough to succeed in the market, work also needs to be undertaken to develop Advanced Electric Machines Ltd as an organisation fit to supply commercial vehicle OEMs; this focuses on the achievement of international quality standards such as ISO9001 and IATF16949.

Task 1 of the project (Market Survey) has undertaken an assessment of both the European Market and competitors. Approximately 30 competitors have been identified and assessed; this assessment has shown that whilst there are undoubtably competitors in the market with strong products and businesses, at this time there is no competitor offering rare earth magnet free traction motors into the commercial vehicle market. If Advanced Electric Machines can demonstrate (as it can) that it can compete in terms of product performance and durability, then HDSRM having no rare earth magnets will give a competitive advantage in terms of lower Bill of Materials cost and produce sustainability. The assessment has also identified the target customers for the HDSRM product as well as mechanisms to build relationships with them, along with opportunities for government grant backed collaboration.

Task 2 (Product Design Validation) has resulted in the development of a costed product and process validation plan. The proving of the product through a series of tests is essential in order to ensure that it meets customer and market performance, quality and conformance standards. Process validation is essential to ensure that Advanced Electric Machines has implemented manufacturing processes which result in a quality and repeatable product. These validation plans have been included in a detailed schedule, with a clear understanding of the associated costs.

Task 3 (Organisation Development Strategy) has developed a costed plan for implementation of two phases of quality management into the organisation. Firstly the achievement of ISO9001:2015 during 2019 will allow Advanced Electric Machines to meet a key criteria of many customer’s, that the organisation meets international quality management. A slightly longer term objective will be to achieve the automotive supply chain standard, IATF16949.

Task 4 (Enhanced Supply Chain Toolkit Development) has seen Advanced Electric Machines engage with organisation Valuechain; they offer a comprehensive suite of software solutions that are suitable for the motor manufacturing supply chain. AEM has now developed plans to work with Valuechain to refine the outputs from ReFITT and develop new tools to further support the accelerated development of capable motor manufacturing supply chains across multiple sectors.
During the course of the project Advanced Electric Machines has achieved a number of significant milestones, the build and test of its first pre-production HDSRM rare earth magnet free traction motors, the manufacture of its first traction gearboxes and securing of customer interest and finance in order to support the companies move to a new 1100m2 manufacturing facility in Washington, close to Sunderland.

Advanced Electric Machines is now working with a number of customers, including launch client Tevva Motors (manufacturer of hybrid range extended trucks), in order to build HDSRM into commercially available vehicles.

Beyond the project Advanced Electric Machines is now working on a submission to Phase 2 of the SME Instrument. This will support both the implementation of the reccomendations developed during the course of ReFITT phase 1, as well as the development of a second in the family of motors allowing HDSRM technology to be used in commercial vehicles of 3.5tonnes or less.