Brembo is a world leader in the design, development and production of braking systems and components for cars, motorbikes, industrial vehicles and machinery. The company operates in 16 countries on three continents, with 24 production and business sites, and about 7,700 employees.
Over the last century, braking systems have progressed through technical innovations and uninterrupted research aimed at improving vehicle safety and comfort. Compared to traditional braking systems using hydraulic pressure to slow or stop the vehicle, a more efficient and simplified brake-by-wire technology based on the electronic power transfer has recently emerged.
X-by-wire technology was originally developed for the aerospace industry, where electronics systems were implemented to replace bulky mechanical systems. Automotive engineers followed the trend: with brake-by-wire technology, small computer chips control the braking system and enable faster reactions and better security. Moreover, the technology requires less physical space, and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can be easily integrated.
As a world leader and recognized pioneer in the production of braking systems, Brembo started working on its first-generation of brake-by-wire technology in 2001. In 2012, the company launched a new project aimed at developing the third generation of its brake-by-wire technology.
The latest architecture includes electrohydraulic actuators to activate front-brake calipers, and electromechanical actuators to activate rear-brake calipers. When the brake pedal is pressed, the vehicle control unit receives information and sends a series of electric signals through the entire braking system. Various sensors determine necessary braking force and the brake motors apply the correct amount of pressure on the rear wheels. One of the technical challenges is to design actuators that can be integrated into the 12-volt power network of conventional vehicles.
To offer robust brake-by-wire systems for conventional and electric premium segment cars, Brembo applies a modelbased systems engineering (MBSE) approach from functional requirements to component specifications.
To design brake-by-wire actuators that ensure impeccable comfort and fulfill the driver’s request under various driving conditions, Brembo uses Simcenter Amesim™ software from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens Digital Industries Software.
In the preliminary design phase supported with Brembo’s in-house tool, engineers first determine the actuator power, taking into account the desired response time and the constraints related to the dimensions and caliper stiffness. Then the engineers use Simcenter Amesim to go into details and specify actuator components, such as an electric motor, power electronics, mechanical parts, sensors and electronic control unit (ECU) control strategies. With Simcenter Amesim, they study dynamic responses, motor heating and battery current consumption of electrohydraulic and electromechanical actuators, taking into account the road mission profiles.
In order to check the robustness of the design at early development stages, Brembo specialists use the design exploration tool of Simcenter Amesim for statistical analysis to study the variation of actuator component parameters that may occur in the production process.
“We take advantage of a powerful solver and the easy-to-use graphical user interface of Simcenter Amesim,” says Giulio Calamai, a simulation engineer in the Advanced Research and Development (R&D) Department at Brembo. “The software comes with model customization capabilities that enable us to develop internal know-how on critical components, and with plotting functionalities that help us easily share simulation results among the company. Also, ready-to-use mechanical, electromechanical, hydraulic, electrical, thermal and controls components are of great help to ensure the high performance of our products.”
“Since brake-by-wire technology requires sophisticated control strategies, a big step forward was the integration of the controls model and multi-domain component models in a single simulation environment,” Calamai explains. “In addition, black-box capabilities of Simcenter Amesim allow Brembo to share simulation models in a secure manner with our customers, who analyze our products’ behavior once integrated into the vehicle.”
“We are convinced that the MBSE approach provides great improvement in the development process of complex systems by ensuring continuity between requirements design, interface definition, performance analysis, component design and specification,” says Fabio Carbone, a simulation engineer in the Advanced Research and R&D Department at Brembo. “In this scenario, Simcenter Amesim plays an important role at the pre-design stages when we perform virtual component design, as well as at virtual system verification phases when we put together multi-domain components and systems.”
“Simcenter Amesim helps us cut our development cycle by allowing complete dimensioning of our actuators without physical prototypes,” says Carbone. “Not only does Siemens Digital Industries Software provide a high-performance simulation tool, but BSim Engineering, its partner in Italy, also offers us premium services by guiding Brembo at early stages of our complex development projects when it comes to the model optimization or component customization.”