Twenty years back, says Dipanjan Gope, CEO and Co-founder of SimYog Technology, the bill of materials of a car would have been primarily mechanical. Today, if you ask for a bill of material of car, it would be electronics and electricals; it is 50 per cent electrical and electronics today and if you are talking of electric vehicles, it could go up to 70 per cent, he says. And, if one looks at autonomous or connected vehicles, the electronics in them will be higher and more complicated than before. The design tool for a car is not the same as it was 20 years ago and is bound to change.
This also means that an increasing array of electronic parts or control units is going to get tightly packed together. The Electronic Control Units (ECUs) may not always work in unison. At times, they can interfere with each other’s performance. Component manufacturers have to get it absolutely right. Which means they have to make many prototypes, test them out in laboratories before making the part and supplying it to the vehicle manufacturers or the OEMs. All this means higher cost and a longer time to go-to-market.
“The main vision of SimYog,” says Dipanjan, “is to enable agile processes in hardware.” The company’s software product enables tier-1 component suppliers to test out the electronic parts in their offices itself for EMI/EMC (Electromagnetic Interference/Electromagnetic Compatibility), rather than testing them out in laboratories.
Electronic Design Automation, says Dipanjan, is a $5/6-billion market worldwide, with most of the major players focussed on integrated circuits. You put an IC on a printed circuit board and several such PCBs go to make an ECU and there are many such embedded systems in a car, he explains. There are many tools to help design an IC, but not much when it comes to designing an ECU and the complete system in cars.
He explains that a vehicle manufacturer will go to a tier-1 supplier that includes companies such as Bosch and Denso and explain what it has in mind. The component supplier will then buy the chips from someone else and assemble the component as per the OEM’s specifications. Very often, there may be a problem in the component for which the tier-1 supplier will blame the chip manufacturer and vice versa.
There are measures of goodness of an ECU in terms of performance in a car, explains Dipanjan. There are standard laboratories to test them. A company like Bosch will make a prototype and take it to a lab to test it out as per the specifications given to it by a vehicle manufacturer. If the part doesn’t work, Bosch will have to go back to the drawing board, make another prototype and take it again for testing. A lab test could cost around €370 per hour in Europe. More than the cost, lab slots may not be easily available for the tier-1 component suppliers.
SimYog’s through its first product, Compliance-Scope, targeted at the automobile industry, helped tier- 1 suppliers address this problem by testing electronic components for EMI/EMC from their office. This, says Dipanjan, will cut down on costs considerably and also help crunch the time taken to make the product. “We call it a virtual EMI/EMC laboratory. Which means whatever you are doing, taking it to the lab and doing the measurements, you can do the same on a desktop by not making a prototype, but by just uploading your design files. The design files are available much earlier than a prototype itself. The cost of fixing a problem is much cheaper at an early stage,” says Dipanjan. SimYog now caters exclusively to the automotive electronics hardware, partly because Bosch, a leading player in the automotive industry, is an investor and also because the company itself sees exciting things happening in automotive electronics. The same idea, he adds, can be applied to aerospace, medical electronics, consumer electronics and defence.
SimYog will look to get into these areas at a later date. Apart from tier-1 auto component suppliers, SimYog will also target the IC suppliers with its product. According to Dipanjan, besides India, Japan and Germany are the major markets for the company’s products.
SimYog licences its product to its customers, which can download the software and use it. It has a licence model, which is the one it is promoting, and there are some interests in design services.