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Battery Manufacturing Meets the Digital Enterprise

By Melanie Spare, Contributor

One of the most important components—and the key technology for electro-mobility—is the battery. Battery technology and costs are decisive factors pushing development. When setting up battery production for electric vehicles, for example, a high level of automation is necessary.

Developments in battery technologies have increased greatly over the past couple of years. In order to remain competitive, manufacturing companies need to achieve enormous improvements in their processes.

One answer is the “digital enterprise” for the next level of battery manufacturing. This approach offers complete automation solutions that greatly improve the manufacturing yield, allowing battery cell manufacturers and their suppliers the needed ability to control costs.

As resources become increasingly scarce, the importance of efficient energy generation and storage management continues to grow. The world is going to change. There are some key macroeconomic trends, such as climate change, population growth, urbanization and energy, that can help us to understand and even predict the changes that are coming. For example, regardless of what your opinion of global warming is, the fact remains that there is an enormous pressure for a reduction in CO2 emissions. As a result, we are seeing government regulation and subsidies to promote this change. In terms of energy, the scarcity of fossil fuel resources is prompting an increased focus on renewable energy.

Another trend is that more people are moving to urban centers. It is estimated that by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will reside in our cities. These factors all have enormous impact on businesses. These pressures are driving the need for new concepts in mobility and energy; a key technology in these new concepts around mobility and energy is the battery. All industries must recognize the enormous potential in the battery business.

The table above shows the entire evolution of the digital enterprise for battery manufacturing, referencing Siemen’s unique platform-as-a-service, Mindsphere.

However, there is another trend that is making an enormous impact as well, and that is the digital transformation that we are currently experiencing worldwide. We are all aware of the exponential growth over the last 10 years with the smart phone, for example. Think about the way you buy things, travel or get your news, even compared to just a few years ago. In this age of digitalization, we have seen complete markets transformed. An interesting fact is that since the year 2000, 50% of all the companies on the Fortune 500 list have disappeared, due to digitalization. It is estimated that more than 50% of companies that try to move to digitalization will fail.

The pace of innovation and the ability to disrupt market conditions are becoming key success factors in global business. Innovation has always been the backbone to successful enterprises. The digital enterprise concept has the ability to lead battery manufacturing forward.

Whether you are producing electrode materials, manufacturing battery cells or building machines that facilitate one area of the process, there are enormous pressures that require the rethinking of the entire lifecycle of the product. Consumer demands and volatility of the market require manufacturers to operate with tremendous speed, flexibility and efficiency, all while maintaining the highest standards in quality.

There are varying industries that present a growing demand for batteries, such as e-car or energy storage and industry. Within those spaces, there are differing battery technologies. And, regardless of the battery chemistry makeup or form factor, there are multiple factors that contribute to manufacturing a battery.

From product design through planning and manufacturing to the support services, battery manufacturers must seek clearly defined interfaces between all involved participants that lead to a holistic automation approach.

The following is an example of such an advanced automation scenario.

Production control system (SCADA) for the battery research production line at ZSW, a German battery manufacturer:

Research and Development Relationship between Siemens and ZSW for the optimization of the battery manufacturing

  • Easy adaptation of customer requirements in a well-proven SCADA solution for battery manufacturing
  • Order, material and recipe management
  • Connection with external warehouse management systems and central building control system
  • Long-term archiving of machine, process and quality report
  • Integration of external measurement solutions

The digital enterprise system is able to improve the production output quality by providing the line operator with specific information on each machine, as well as key performance indicators and overall equipment efficiency on the entire production line. An end-to-end, integrated engineering environment makes it possible for mechanical, electrical and automation components to work together seamlessly throughout the plant.

Complete integration allows battery manufacturers to achieve shorter innovation cycles, higher productivity rates and overall quality improvement. This happens through flexible production and process transparency, as well as greater efficiency by being able to optimize their production resources. WMHS

About the Author

Melanie Spare is the Business Development Manager for Battery at Siemens Digital Factory.


Battery Manufacturing in the Digital Enterprise

Name of product / service  Description of product / service  Key product features
Moving Battery Manufacturing toward the Digital Enterprise Part 1:  Product Design 1.     Teamcenter: Siemens Collaboration Platform for Product Development Management
2.  NX CAD/CAE:  Providing a unified platform for product development with integrated solutions for design, simulation and manufacturing
1.     Team Center:
* Improves innovation and productivity by connecting people and processes with knowledge
* Built on Open PLM foundation
* Secure, global access to product & process knowledge
* Extended applications support entire product lifecycle
2.  NX CAD / CAE:
Powerful solutions for product and mechanical design, manufacturing, analysis and simulation, and multi- discipline design
Moving Battery Manufacturing toward the Digital Enterprise Part 2:  Production Planning Tecnomatix :  Linking all manufacturing disciplines with product engineering Process and data management for manufacturing engineering
Simulation on all levels
Integrated Line Design
Reuse planning information on shop floor, feedback information to planning
Moving Battery Manufacturing toward the Digital Enterprise Part 3:  Production Engineering TIA Portal:     One Engineering tool for all automation tasks *     One common engineering environment for PLC, HMI and Drives to reduce engineering effort and speed up commissioning
*  New Library concept to support standardization in Automotive
*  Perfect interplay of efficient engineering and powerful automation hardware
*  Integrated security functionalities to protect customer Know-How and production environment
Moving Battery Manufacturing toward the Digital Enterprise Part 4:  Production Execution SCADA System Solutions with WinCC Full production control center controls the entire information and data flow within the production line and offers user specific reports and data analysis
Moving Battery Manufacturing toward the Digital Enterprise Part 5:  Data Driven Services Mindsphere – the Industry Cloud Mindsphere enables machines to become even more powerful by recording and analyzing huge quantities of production data for predictive maintenance, improved energy management and the optimization of resources

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