“THE TRANS-MODAL APPLICATIONS OF AUTOMOTIVE ENGINES IN MOBILITY – MASS TRANSPORTATION AND LOGISTICS IN NIGERIA: Responsibilities, Challenges and Opportunities
When the ChairmanAutoEI informed me of the desire of the Institute to organize a trans-modal transportation conference, I got very excited with the idea. What immediately came to my mind was the mission of the Society of Automotive Engineers – mobility Engineering. By this SAE is involved in Automotive, Locomotive, Marine, Aeronautical and even Space Engineering. I then reasoned with the Chairman of AutoEI that the focus ought to be on mobility engineering, and that synergy with the other mobility engineering Divisions of NSE namely, Aeronautical, Marine & Naval Architecture, Space will aid the smooth and effective realization of this goal.
It pleased me greatly when I gleaned from the letter inviting me to deliver this keynote address, the theme of this conference, and its focus on mobility.
- MOBILITY ENGINEERING
Mobility Engineering deals with the engineering infrastructure for providing transportation equipment for the movement of persons and goods on/in the land, on/in the sea, in the air, and in space.
It must be recalled that the term Automotivewas coined in 1916 by Elmer Sperry from Greek autos (self) and Latin motivus(of motion) to represent any form of self-powered vehicle. And so technically while automobile refers to off-road, and on-road motor vehicles, automotive refers to these land motor vehicles, as well as locomotives, marine vessels, aeroplanes (including helicopters), and space vehicles.
Thus, even though there exist separate Institutions in NSE for these industries, there is compelling need for co-operation, collaboration, and synergy by these professional engineering institutions, in order to realize effective oversight of technical standards in these industries.
One must then congratulate AutoEI, Aero Div, MENA Div, for putting together this 2018 Mega National Conference on the theme “Trans-modal Applications of Automotive Engines in Logistics and Mass Transportation: Responsibilities, Challenges and Opportunities.”
But since automotive engines include space engines, it would be fitting and proper that in subsequent Trans-modal Conferences the Space Engineering Institution should be involved.
- POLICY ENVIRONMENT
The National Automotive Policy adopted by the Federal Government in 1993 focused mostly on automobile industry development. This I must attribute to the nomenclature of the Standing Technical Committee on the Nigerian Automotive Industry (STC on NAI), the midwife of the National Automotive Policy, and the precussor to the National Automotive Council (Now the National Automotive Design & Development Council).
As Chairman of the Policy Drafting Committee then, I will confess that we must have operated with the tunnel vision of what the Federal Ministry of Industries then regarded as Automotive Sector or more accurately sub-sector. The FMI then as at now deems all manufacturing activities as one sector, a very serious distortion of reality.
One of the outcomes of this Mega Conference ought to be a re-assessment of the National Automotive Policy to include relevant sections to take care of aeronautical, locomotive, and marine engineering industries requirements. A beginning can at least be made.
The extant National Automotive Policy dealt with issues like model rationalization, standardization, technology acquisition, engineering infrastructure, financing, investments, incentives, implementation framework etc in broad terms. Proper implementation of the Policy was to come through more detailed planning and legislations to be guided by the approved Policy. The latter ought to be reviewed periodically. To the best of my knowledge, that is yet to be done.
But more detailed planning commenced with the formulation of the National Automotive Industry Development Plan in 2014.
NAIDP 2014 was introduced to stimulate investments in domestic vehicle production and assembly. It has been observed elsewhere that the plan (sometimes mistakenly taken as policy) seeks to encourage local manufacture of automobile vehicles, while phasing out the importation of used vehicles. The plan also has other objectives like, job creation, stimulation of the automobile value chain, diversification of the Nigerian economy, provision of affordable vehicles for the average Nigerian. Promotion of foreign direct investment in Nigeria, and savings in foreign reserves due to local assembly of vehicles are also key objectives. The latter would be better appreciated when one realizes that the country spends between $3-$4billion per annum on automobile vehicles importation.
This plan expects that most vehicle parts will be imported at the beginning of implementation for local FBU assembly. It then anticipates subsequent domestication of component parts manufacture beyond current local capabilities in rubber parts (including revival of tyre manufacturing), electrical parts, welded parts, plastic parts etc.
On the fiscal side, the plan laid out incentive measures to provide enabling environment for existing assembly plants to prosper, and help in attracting new investors to the Nigerian automotive sector.
As can be seen the NAIDP 2014 like the National Automotive Policy 1993 focuses on the automobile industry. These plans should be extended to fostering of ships/boats, locomotives, aircrafts manufacture, etc.
- VALUE CHAIN
The automotive sectors belong to the engineering industries. In any of the automotive sectors the value chain of activities does straddle across innovation, invention, design, manufacturing (operations, maintenance), safety, investments etc.
Just as in other engineering industries, each of these activities is critical to the eventual delivery of the product to the user or consumer, or customer.
Engineers play roles in each of these stages of an automotive industry
5.1 Innovation & Invention
Businesses or enterprises change processes or create more effective and efficient processes, products and ideas. Engineers need to participate in implementation of new ideas, through creation of dynamic products or improvement of existing services.
It is said that invention by design is how Engineers get from thought to thing. In the automotive industries design is the soul of the game.
When new auto products are to be created engineering design uses available technology to improve performance, lower costs, and minimize risk. Thus if designers of a new concept car use analysis or experiments to evaluate air drag, structural integrity, manufacturability with style when bringing up a new exterior design, they are doing engineering design.
A famous inventor cum engineering designer, G.L. Glegg states that an Engineer can and frequently does create dozens of original designs, and has the satisfaction of seeing them become working realities. In his words, the Engineer … is a creative artist in a sense never known by the pure scientist … can make something … creates by rearranging in patterns the discoveries of science past and present … a scientist can discover a new star but he cannot make one … he would have to ask an Engineer to do it for him.
Doing engineering design in the automotive industries can be visualized in so to say five dimensions, first the design of the problem. In other words, quite often the problem is really to discover what the problem is.
The next dimension is the design of the designer, realizing that creative design is basically a personal achievement. The latter must flow from the subdivision of the creative mind in the inventive, artistic, and rational realms.
5.2.1 Invention Realm
On the inventive dimension, inventions do not fall like manna from heaven, but rather have to be conjured up from the conscious and subconscious mind. The way it works, one cannot command one’s mind to invent something. The mind can only be encouraged towards that.
In aircraft design for example, the story is told of how a certain man spent his holidays always the same way. He would sit on top of a cliff by the seaside and watch the movement and behavior of seagulls. Everyone else thought he was eccentric. But what was happening was that he was studying the behavior in flight of these birds. Over time that helped him to become a pioneer in aircraft design. And that was A.V. Roe of the Avro Aeroplane.
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