Smart Mobility Hub

| Transport

Test facilities at Hyundai include the 618 metre long rooftop Skytrack

Hyundai has created a smart mobility hub in Singapore combining AI, collaborative robotics, customisation and test facilities

The “Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre Singapore” (HMGICS) has been created by the Korean automotive company as a means of steering it towards what it describes as the “human-centric mobility vision” of the future.

The facility includes a highly automated flexible production system and provides unprecedented ways for electric vehicle (EV) buyers to interact with their vehicles and the company they’re buying from. HMGICS symbolises the group’s determination to make progress in the creation of sustainable, innovative mobility.

Hyundai searched beyond Korea and chose Singapore as the ideal home for its first smart urban mobility hub. Delivering a human-centric manufacturing approach, HMGICS relies on collaboration between people, robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in order to achieve new levels of project synchronization. In addition to this, digital twin Meta-Factory technology will ensure ultra-rapid responses to changing customer demands and production requirements.

The factory is located in the Jurong Innovation District, which is part of the broader Singapore smart city. The seven-story, 86,900 square metre HMGICS facility has the capability to manufacture up to 30,000 EVs per annum. Operational since early 2023, HMGICS already produces the IONIQ 5 and the fully autonomous IONIQ 5 robo-taxi and will add the IONIQ 6 to its portfolio of models built on-site next year. The facility will serve as a testbed for developing future mobility products, including Purpose Built Vehicles (PBVs) thanks to its advanced manufacturing capability.

According to Euisun Chung, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chairman, HMGICS is an open and connected urban innovation hub that encourages and embraces creativity and collaboration, which promises to completely redefine the very concept of manufacturing

“We thought hard about how to meet the diverse needs of our many customers and by combining our manufacturing expertise with the latest cutting-edge technologies, the result is this Innovation Centre,” he says.

Flexible Cell Based Production

Key to the ability of HMGICS to achieving goals is a cell-based production system that leaves behind the traditional conveyor-belt manufacturing approach to achieve high standards of flexibility and automation.

Approximately 50 percent of all tasks are carried out by 200 robots, with humans, robotics and AI systems achieving unprecedented levels of collaboration thanks to integration made possible by the digital twin platform.

Operating as a digital twin Meta-Factory, HMGICS synchronises the virtual and physical worlds in real time. This enables humans and robots to cooperate in ways not seen before. Employees can simulate tasks in the digital virtual space — or metaverse — while robots physically move components on the production line.

Robots perform assembly, inspection and material logistics around the facility, and take care of more than 60 percent of component process management, ordering and transportation. This frees humans from repetitive and laborious tasks to focus on more creative and productive duties.

“The more compact nature of facilities such as HMGICS makes it easier to integrate them into local communities, particularly in urban areas with limited space,” said Alpesh Patel, Vice President and Head of Technology Innovation Group, HMGICS.

“With the help of robotics, AI and the Internet of Things (IoT), we’ve built a human-centric manufacturing system that can respond to changes in mobility, processes and products with agility and flexibility. These innovations are setting new standards for efficiency and customisation,” he says.

Changing the Way Vehicles are Bought

What Hyundai is doing in Singapore is creating a new way for end users of its products to be involved in the customisation and production of the cars they’re buying. The company describes this as “redefining the customer journey from the first interaction with the brand, to the sales process, delivery, and ownership.” With enhanced flexibility thanks to the hub’s cell-based production system, HMGICS offers high levels of customisation at a late stage of the overall delivery process.

This enables the order-from-home service, which allows customers to tailor the specification of their vehicle, choosing their exterior colour and interior trim configuration, applying this to their car instantly before completing initial deposit and balance payment processes through secure online payment methods to confirm their purchase.

Although online customisation isn’t new to the industry, Hyundai also allows its customers in the region to visit the HMGICS facility. Before doing so, the customers can book a virtual reality (VR) tour of the plant while personal guides will be available on-site for visitors looking to learn more about Hyundai and the brand’s mobility offerings.

HMGICS’ guides will accompany customers on their tour of the facility, as well as providing insight into their chosen vehicle, offering test drives around the Jurong Innovation District. Additionally, customers can enjoy an immersive test ride experience on the facility’s stunning 618-metre rooftop Skytrack. A unique handover zone, created to make the moment of customers taking ownership of their new vehicle as special and as memorable as possible, is also a key feature of the HMGICS hub.

Smart Farm for Local Food Production

The company’s corporate responsibility programme even extends to contributing towards
Singapore’s food production capabilities, reflecting the company’s vision for sustainable urban growth.

With only one percent of land given over to agriculture due to its rocky geology, Singapore imports 90 percent of food consumed in the region. To increase food self-sufficiency, the Singapore government has introduced its 30 by 30 policy, promoting alternative agricultural technologies, including smart farms. The HMGICS Smart Farm focuses not just on productivity in a compact environment, but also enhancing customer awareness by allowing visitors to interactively experience the entire farming process.

With the help of an automated conveyor system using sophisticated robotics, the Smart Farm produces up to nine different crops within the facility. Harvested produce is given to customers as a memento of their visit, as well as donated to local communities in Singapore. The crops will also feature on the menu of the tasting lounge and the forthcoming farm-to-table restaurant for customers to enjoy sustainable dishes.

Investment in Local Resources

HMGICS has adopted a policy of nurturing local talent in the mobility sector, incubating future businesses in Singapore and fostering relationships with research institutions and universities through an open innovation system. This knowledge-sharing will boost HMGICS’ role as an R&D facility for developing diverse future-oriented business models and sustainable production systems for EVs and smart mobility.

An example of this is the collaboration Hyundai has with Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and the Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), a statutory board under Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry. HMGICS will create the first tripartite “Corporate Lab” in Singapore, which will accelerate innovations in and the adoption of new technologies to create a collaborative future mobility system in Singapore.

An MOU signed with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) will enable Singaporean small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to co-develop advanced manufacturing systems, giving Singapore’s mobility industry a unique outlook to set it apart from the traditional automotive landscape.

The Group is also investing in the future of alternative fuels to boost the regional low carbon logistics system by establishing a renewable hydrogen energy system in Singapore. As part of this approach, HMGICS will serve as an innovation hub to support Singapore in accomplishing hydrogen initiatives, such as the National Hydrogen Strategy, to achieve 50 percent hydrogen usage in nationwide power supply by 2050.

The ability of HMGICS to transform manufacturing and customer experience reinforces the company’s strategic vision, which it shares with Singapore, to progress onwards with the creation of highly efficient, innovative and sustainable mobility systems for the benefit of all.

Hydrogen Research in London

Hyundai isn’t just investing in sustainable mobility for Singapore, but is also active in London with the same aim.

The company recently announced its partnership with University College London (UCL) to jointly research carbon-neutral future technologies.

With both South Korea and UK aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, Hyundai Motor looks to accelerate the development of a hydrogen economy and realise sustainable future mobility.

Hyundai and UCL will perform joint research in the fields of hydrogen production, fuel cells and electrification, as well as advanced materials, proprietary technologies and associated industrial technologies.

Hyundai Motor also aims to strengthen collaboration with UCL on joint carbon reduction research projects, building on the company’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.

Jonathan Newell
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