Production models and strategies: reciprocating and rotary technologies

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2018)


Recently, electrification of automobiles has been widely debated from air pollution prevention, global warming prevention, and global energy security points of view. For electrification of automobiles, three technologies are required: traction motor, power conversion system, and electricity generator.
The pioneer of mobility electrification is a rail locomotive originated in the beginning of the 20th century. After the traction motor has grown, the latest semiconductor technology has greatly reduced the size and cost of the power conversion system, making it possible to mount a traction motor in a car. However, rail locomotives did not grow the third technology, electricity generator. Because they are powered by an overhead catenary, not an electricity generator on board.
The electricity generation can be categorized into 1) electromagnetic generation that converts kinetic power into electrical power (Faraday’s law), 2) electrochemical generation that converts chemical power into electrical power, and 3) other generations including photovoltaic, thermoelectric, and so on. In the case of electromagnetic generation, kinetic energy forces a generator to rotate and create electricity. The kinetic power is typically created by heat which let gas molecules expand. Therefore, a three dimensional (3D) space is needed for molecules to make an expansion, or work. In the case of electrochemical generation, a two dimensional (2D) interface is needed for molecules to make an electrochemical reaction, instead of a 3D space. The electron is born at the interface, travels in conductors such as Cupper or Iron metal to drive traction motor.
Based on the design view of manufacturing (Fujimoto 1999, 2007) or monozukuri in Japanese, we see an artifact as a combination of structural design information and its medium. In this Aristotelian view of the world, all of the tangible artifacts are 3D products, because medium is mainly 3D. However, we also see another artifact as a combination of planner design information and its 2D medium, such as newspapers, books, solar panels, and electrochemical generators. In this paper, we define them 2D products.
The history of 2D products is not short. A well-known case is printing which has been widely known by the efforts of Johannes Gutenberg who published his first book in 1439. The technology he employed is platen press printing which was inspired from the press machine in vine yard. Even though the productivity (annual printing area production per unit investment) of the technology is not excellent, it has been widely used for a long time. Actually it has passed 425 years until much excellent technology, cycling press printing, was invented by Richard Hoe in 1864.
Why it took such a long time for human being to realize the cycling press printing? Technically, it was also possible in the 16th, 17th and 18th century. However, it had to happen in 19th century.
We assume that this gap is somewhere related to our cognitive functions, especially, against the dimension (2D and 3D). In this paper, we will choose and discuss similar but more recent cases which happened even in the 20th or 21st century:
1.       Process innovation and its biased evolution of Lithium Ion Battery (LIB)
2.       Similarity of production process and productivity in car body and fuel cells
3.       Process patent analysis of All-solid state battery (ASSB) and LIB
4.       Business continuity of horse coach, railway, cars and cars
We have discussed inherent differences in production process between ICE and EPGD and reported significant benefits when the gap between ideal and reality is filled (Hasegawa & Fujimoto 2016, Hasegawa 2017), especially in the market and the infrastructure (Hasegawa 2014, 2015, 2016). Based on the Abernathy-Utterback theory, each of 4 inquiries can be easily explained and solved technically. As far as the technology (product, process) is not the bottleneck, we need to explore non-technological reasons in the field of behavioral economics and evolutionary economics.
A hypothesis and a countermeasure is discussed.

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