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EASEE - Shaping the Future of Electricity with Simulation

Easee was established in January 2018 by three Norwegian entrepreneurs with an idea to create the world’s smartest electric vehicle charger, the Easee Charging Robot. Today the company continues to develop their innovative solutions for charging and power management technology for homes, apartment blocks and commercial buildings, with the goal of providing an ecosystem that will give customers a seamless experience from A to Z.

Cloud-native CAD & CAE at EASEE

Andrzej Tunkiel is the Mechanical Team Lead at Easee and is involved with both product development and manufacturing engineering. He is technically focused on the thermal management of the Easee Charging Robot which includes CFD simulation (conjugate heat transfer) and thermal data analysis. He is also responsible for implementing workflows and systems & processes associated with mechanical design, covering CAD, CAE, and PLM.

Traditional build-test cycles are costly and stifle innovation, thus CAE has been a part of Easee’s engineering DNA since inception. They selected SimScale because they understand, and have fully embraced, the benefits of cloud-native CAE & CAD software tools: deployment and access to cloud-native tools are so much easier compared to the extra work (time and cost) needed to deploy and maintain on-premises hardware & software. Plus, SimScale plays particularly well with the CAD platform that Easee has standardized on: Onshape.

Due to the cloud-native nature of the solvers, the simulation speed is essentially a non-issue because I can add on more cores for faster simulation as needed. I can run 1, 2, or 20 simulations in parallel without worrying about hardware needs. I don't need to budget for 1, 2, or 20 workstations to simulate my things on.

easee mechanical team lead andrzej tunkiel

Andrzej Tunkiel

Mechanical Team Lead at Easee

EASEE’s charging robot mounted to an exterior wall exposed to the elements
Example of EASEE’s charging robot mounted to an exterior wall where it needs to perform and remain cool while exposed to the elements.

I trust SimScale as the cloud experts more than I trust myself. I’ll let cloud experts do the cloud!

Andrzej Tunkiel — Mechanical Team Lead

Keeping EV Chargers Cool Passively

The Easee Charging Robot is one of the smallest chargers on the market. The relatively small form factor and high charging rates result in a high power density package that needs to be kept cool due to various internal heat sources, but also from external environmental factors such as solar radiation. Easee is keen to avoid using active fan cooling due to the additional complexity, cost, and reliability issues that this would introduce. Passive cooling allows for a smaller footprint, fewer moving parts, silent operation, and lower power consumption.

Easee uses SimScale’s Immersed Boundary Method (IBM) analysis type to perform conjugate heat transfer simulations on their charger. The IBM solver uses a cartesian grid that the fluid and solid geometry get immersed into, and as a result, the mesh generation is much faster and more efficient in terms of cell count and solution speed than a typical CFD finite volume mesh/solver. Critical for Easee is that the IBM does not require any CAD simplification, allowing their engineers to import their complex model as-is with the PCB assembly inside and including all of the engravings in the plastic housing — they are able to import the CAD model & solve with no more than 30 minutes setup time.

Detail of Simscale IBM CFD simulation showing the IBM mesh and air velocity contours
Sectional side view of the Easee Charging Robot showing the IBM mesh and air velocity magnitude contours.
Exterior view of the Easee Charging robot showing CFD IBM solver conjugate heat transfer results
Exterior face-on view of the Easee Charging Robot showing the conjugate heat transfer results (IBM solver) with colder airflow (blue streamlines) entering the vents at the RHS and warmer air leaving by the side vents closer to the LHS. Enclosure temperature contours are also shown.

The SimScale IBM solver is a game changer for Easee by highlighting potential thermal issues and areas for improvement and allowing them to explore/optimize other ideas rapidly before they commit to making the first prototype. The significant time savings (process compression) in model prep and solver time reduces their risk and time to market, giving them a competitive edge. Andrzej explained that:

The IBM solver made it possible to simulate thermals in our charger — period. This was not possible before IBM or with other CFD tools.

Exterior view of the Easee Charging robot showing CFD IBM solver conjugate heat transfer results for a different case vent configuration
Exterior view of the Easee Charging Robot showing conjugate heat transfer CFD results (IBM solver) for a different case vent configuration. The charger is normally mounted vertically with the seven-pin plug at the bottom receptacle. In this view, the red convection flow streamlines heading toward the top right are aligned with the vertical mounting axis.
Exterior view of the Easee Charging robot showing CFD IBM solver conjugate heat transfer results for a third case/case vent vent configuration
Exterior view of the Easee Charging Robot showing conjugate heat transfer CFD results (IBM solver) for another case configuration viewed from the top. The charger is normally mounted vertically, so in this view, the red and orange convection flow streamlines heading toward the right side of the image are aligned with the vertical mounting axis.

Technical Support is a Snap!

SimScale is a single platform with broad physics capabilities covering fluid (CFD), structural (FEA), thermal, and coupled field (multiphysics) simulations. Easee used the SimScale nonlinear structural (FEA) simulation capability to develop the snap-fit closure features of molded plastic charger enclosures.

Detail of the Easee Charger case snap fit closure structural simulation - von Mises stress contours shown
Detail of the Easee Charger case snap fit closure structural simulation results — von Mises stress contours shown, with red and yellow indicating the highest stress areas.

Easy access to structural FEA (geometric and material nonlinearities) simulations also allowed Easee to save time (and money) on the design iterations needed to optimize the snap-fit and other similar design elements — such features are challenging to reliably evaluate using 3D printing.

Easee also used SimScale structural simulation to identify a delivered material quality issue, avoiding the need to rework a part and saving them additional time and money. A part with a modified geometry turned out to be much weaker in their tests than expected. They ran a SimScale structural simulation to understand exactly what the geometry needed to be in order to behave the way they wanted and then adjusted the material properties to match the physical test results. This in turn led them to question the supplied material which turned out to be the problem.

A big enabler here for Easee was the SimScale technical support. Having everything in the cloud makes communication and data sharing fast, seamless, and very easy. Both the SimScale in-platform real-time support and the ability to share a project to collaborate directly with a support application engineer without having to data wrangle multi-Gigabyte files were very efficient and valuable.

Cloud-Native Delivers Good ROI

Easee reports a very good return on their investment in SimScale CAE. While working on this with Andrzej, he mentioned that he currently had six simulations running in the background that would be finished early the next morning. He did not even want to think about how much money Easee would need to spend in order to have the same capability with an on-premises solution. He conceded that if he had on average five simulations running constantly throughout the day every day then yes, an on-premises solution could potentially be more cost-effective, but that’s not a real-world scenario for the majority of companies, and even assuming such a “la la land” scenario, SimScale gives Easee access to better computing hardware power with virtually unlimited scalability.

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