Who did not play with construction materials as a child? “It’s always been exciting to open the box and remove a bunch of metal parts to start building,” recalls Jesus De la Torre, head of the Electronic Repair and Verification Center at Seat’s Model Development Center.
A feeling he still gets every time his team opens boxes with hundreds of parts to build a simulator that’s akin to a giant set of construction toys.
The difference is, now it’s not fun. “We have a great responsibility to measure communication between control units and a large number of production elements in a new model. Its quality depends on it,” he says.
350 parts and 1.5 thousand. cables
On the car-shaped metal structure, the team spends more than two months assembling the Seat Leon’s control units one by one. “We collect all electrical and electronic equipment except the actual engine, gearbox and high voltage equipment,” explains De la Torre.
More than 1,500 people are needed to install and connect everything from the instrument cluster and headlamps to the phone antennas and the car’s unlocking and locking sensors. cables.
The electronic simulator then comes into play. This complex structure is the key to starting the production of a new car. So much so that the design is built almost two years before the car is introduced to the market.
It is being worked on at all stages before serial production. “We start working with it to set up software that will be used on the production line, to code and test the electronics of that model quickly and accurately,” explains De la Torre.
One actor per version
The software must ensure the correct operation of all design variables. “Therefore, the main challenge for our team is to integrate all the different engine components and settings in the same simulator,” he adds.
For example, in Leon, they configured and combined various electrical and electronic components for five engine variants (petrol, diesel, CNG, eTSI Mild-Hybrid and e-Hybrid) as well as its four trim levels (Reference, Style, Xcellence and FR).
A total of 2.5 kilometers of cabling
The team begins putting together the first full prototype in the Prototype Development Center long before the simulator is built. On the big table, they start connecting all the cables to their corresponding control units.
“At the point of high load, in the area under the dashboard, in a space of four centimeters in diameter, there can be 250 cables,” says De la Torre. Gradually, the table tops are filled with the necessary parts to build a large electric network of the car, which is about 2.5 km, which is equivalent to 573 Leons planned.
Quality is the key
The wiring of one car has 3 thousand. components including its clamps, mounting brackets and supports. Measurements are checked for absolute accuracy from the very first scan of a wired model. Similarly, cable length or identity colors according to R&D plans are checked.
The execution focus is again shown in the simulator. “All of our work has an impact on introducing improvements to the electronic performance of the final vehicle in the mass production process,” he says.
Connecting to the future
It is easy to imagine how difficult it was for the team to keep the Seat Leon working electronically. Working on the first fully connected car has helped them prepare for an increasingly digital world where connectivity will continue to improve and revolutionize the automotive industry.
“As the autonomy of the vehicle increases, the number of control units will increase and the electronic simulators will be more complex. We will continue to build them and connect them with absolute precision,” concludes Jesus De la Torre.