The modular block-building nature of XING battery systems means that vehicle manufacturers are no longer confined to a battery design shaped like a rectangle. XING can build T-shaped battery packs or any shape (even asymmetrical ones) that fits the available space inside or even outside the vehicle. In the case of an underground mining vehicle, for example, the battery pack may need to be mounted externally. With that unprecedented flexibility, however, comes an enormous product design challenge.
“We are literally designing thousands of sizes and shapes of batteries per year. So that's obviously a huge challenge, not just from an engineering perspective, but also because of the archiving, record-keeping and documentation for all these different battery systems,” Tucker notes.
To ensure its multiple mechanical and electrical engineering teams are always working on the latest version of a battery design, XING Mobility relies on Onshape’s built-in data management that eliminates the need to use an external PDM system. Whenever one engineer makes a design change, everyone else on the team can instantly see it. A comprehensive Edit History tracks who made which design change and when, enabling the team to return to any prior stage of development if needed.
“Onshape helps us prevent any version control issues,” Tucker says. “In our previous CAD system, it was very easy to select the wrong version of the CAD files for analysis, design and manufacturing. We used to spend about 50% of our design time on file management. With Onshape, that’s history.”
Creating unorthodox battery pack shapes from scratch is a time-consuming process, so XING engineers created their own custom feature to automate the modular configurations. Using FeatureScript, the same open-source programming language used to build all of Onshape’s native features, they built a tool to automatically stack battery modules within a predefined volume. For battery packs ranging from 50 to more than 500 components, engineers previously had to manually stack the modules one at a time.
XING Mobility’s new custom Automatic Pack Builder is akin to watching the arcade game “Tetris.” The shape stacking is automated, allowing engineers to reallocate their time to higher-value tasks.