Industrial Applications of Automotive BIW tooling in Design Engineering

A crucial aspect of Automotive Body in White (BIW) Tooling is BIW fixture design. It is a tooling process that ensures the integrity of the welding and joining processes. It reduces the risk of distortions, helping increase productivity.

Furthermore, it helps in easing the operational load, increasing efficiency, and improving the quality by helping attain the desired outcomes in terms of dimensions. 

Knowledge and skills in the process of BIW fixture design can enable an individual to find work in design service industries or fulfill a role as a line builder.


Design Engineer or Simulation Engineer in Design Services

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Businesses in the design service industries are involved in the software aspects of the process line, focusing on design, simulation, and iterations of the processes to ensure optimum parameters for the hardware for the execution of the tooling processes.

However, even if the work is software focused, individuals working on such simulations need to understand how various manufacturing methods work at a conceptual level. Only knowledge of software and design principles is not enough.


Specifically for BIW fixtures, typical roles available are those of a design engineer or a simulation engineer. 

1. Design Engineering

The job of a design engineer, in a nutshell, is to design the fixtures to minimize the chances of issues during the hardware assembly processes, easing the complexity of the on-ground operations and making sure that the actual processes are efficient and cost-effective.

2. Simulation Engineering

The role of a simulation engineer is slightly different. They are responsible for ensuring that various aspects of the overall tooling processes work in sync with each other, and there is no collision between different processes or parts of the entire operation.


The Workflow in Design Services

At a fundamental level, whether it's a design or simulation engineering role, the flow of tasks is quite similar.  

  • Deciding data inputs as the initial parameters
  • Creating hypotheses for the data study
  • Building a 3D concept design
  • Conducting simulation validations, quality checks, customer tool reviews, 2D detailing
  • Sharing the results of the entire process in the form of data delivery

Throughout the process, the data is dynamically and iteratively updated via validation updates, quality check updates, and review updates.  


Line Builders

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Line builders have more of a hands-on role in the tooling processes. In terms of tasks, they have various departments in which they can potentially work.

1. Project Management

Project managers are engineers responsible for the end-to-end execution of a particular manufacturing project. They have the responsibilities of a typical project manager, which means that they have to ensure that deadlines are met as much as possible.

They oversee all communications between different stakeholders and establish and maintain relationships with clients to understand their specifications and requirements. 

2. Procurement

Procurement involves making decisions on the sourcing of raw materials, negotiating the price for sourcing in coordination with project managers, and being the single point of contact for suppliers to the business.

3. Automation and Robotics

Line builders also have the option of taking up the role in departments such as automation and robotics, on-ground manufacturing, assembly, installation, and commissioning.

Electrical engineers are most suited for roles in automation and robotics aspects of the manufacturing process as they can program the processes through electrical wiring, use of sensors, etc. 

For example, if the level of automation within the factory has to be improved, then electrical engineers oversee the integral aspects of automation, such as the programming of sensors.

4. Assembly

On-ground manufacturing roles often depend on the level of automation already present within the processes. A higher level of automation in the factories usually means that such jobs are smaller in terms of scope and quantity. Assembler roles are quite common.

The primary responsibility of the engineer in such cases is to ensure proper assembly of items based on the design provided. While it may not sound very glamorous, an assembly line worker is responsible for facilitating efficiency in the entire assembly process.

5. Installation and Commissioning

Installation and commissioning roles are at the end of the spectrum. Once the items have been produced, the installation and commissioning team delivers the product to the customer, installs it, and communicates with the other teams in case of any issues or challenges.

These roles require the conceptual and technical understanding of the product and processes involved to a certain extent. But sales skills such as specific communication, customer friendliness, and persuasiveness are also quite helpful.


Workflow for Line Builders

Individuals interested in a career as a line builder in the BIW fixture manufacturing process will carry out actions such as: 

1. First Spec Discussion

Conducting the 1st specification's discussion with the client is a crucial part of the manufacturing process to understand their basic requirements. 

2. Drafting a Proposal

As your company will be working on the design and manufacturing aspects of BIW fixtures, the line builder and their team will draft a proposal to submit an offer.

3. Preparing a Detailed Schedule After LoI Signing

If the client agrees with the nuts and bolts of your proposal, a letter of intent (LoI) is signed between the two parties. Following the LoI, you should prepare a detailed roadmap with milestones for the completion of the project.

4. Preparing a Design Concept and Taking Client Approval

The first iteration of the project is in the form of a design concept. The concept is presented to the client for approval or new feedback from the client. If there is any feedback, the project specifications, roadmap, and milestones can be updated accordingly.

5. End-to-End Ownership of Manufacturing Process

After the approval of the design concept, a line builder has the responsibility of executing the end-to-end process.  The process includes the procurement of raw material, manufacturing, assembly, quality assessment, iterations via internal trial and testing, and packaging.

6. Final Handover

Finally, the finished product is handed over to the client. For the handover, based on the initial approved design concept and agreed specifications, the client and your team go through a few checklists together to ensure that the agreed specifications are followed.

7. Trials, Training, and Installation

The employees of the client need to get used to the product. Therefore, some trials and training are conducted for them. Furthermore, installation is also carried out based on client requirements.


Careers in BIW Fixtures Can Be Rewarding

Pursuing careers in BIW fixtures carry immense scope for growth. Often, they involve developing the essential knowledge and skills in the car manufacturing process, using a multitude of technologies both at the hardware and software levels.

There is an opportunity for continuous improvement. With every new car model or even new versions of the same car, there is a need to build new and better fixtures to meet the requirements of assembly.

If the automotive world moves towards greater sustainability via alternatives such as electric vehicles, the field shall retain its demand as OEMs and their suppliers will still require BIW fixture engineers in their various roles. 

To learn more about Automotive Body In White Tooling, you can check out this course. Students interested in design engineering can benefit from our skilled instructors and practical courses to stay ahead of the curve.


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