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Producing the optimum battery

Battery manufacturing – a rapidly growing industry with high ambitions

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Photo courtesy of Northvolt AB

The recent global shift to renewable energy sources and lowered reliance on fossil fuels is leading to a boom in electrification and energy storage world-wide. The E-mobility sector alone will drive the need for batteries to new heights. Spurred by the EV industry, lithium-ion based battery solutions will most likely dominate in the near future. With yearly battery demand growth forecasted to more than 25%, more than one hundred giga-size factories need to be built to keep up with demand until 2030.

The combination of lower raw material prices (i.e. lithium, cobalt) and economies of scale in battery production are driving down the cost - during the last decade prices of lithium-ion battery packs have dropped by 90%. This in turn fuels further growth, as more and more applications become economically feasible.

With fast growth, comes tough competition. New, smart production methods and constant improvements is the way forward.

What all battery producers are striving for


Sustainability - reduced consumption of energy and raw materials

Minimal environmental footprint is the aim of many battery manufacturers. This calls for conscientious sourcing of valuable raw materials, using clean energy to power battery cell manufacturing, and circular systems embedded into manufacturing processes.

Some are also looking into recycling solutions to recover materials from end-of-life batteries and redirect them back into manufacturing to “close the loop”.

Talk to ABB about green energy solutions and sustainable production methods - this is our “home turf”.


Stable, competitive production process

In all battery solutions, the cell is the “lowest common denominator”. A battery is built up of many small cells connected in series and parallel for higher capacity.

“No chain is stronger than its weakest link.” This holds especially true in battery manufacturing – no battery pack is stronger than its weakest cell.

The difference in quality and cycle life can vary significantly between the best and the worst cells. A repeatable and stable manufacturing process will therefore increase the overall quality and performance of battery solutions in demanding applications.

ABB can increase your competetiveness through the whole value chain.


Challenges in modern battery manufacturing

Although fast growing, the battery manufacturing market is highly competitive. Producers are facing a number of difficulties in their quest of delivering the optimal battery solution.

ABB helps manufacturers overcome these challenges and improve the complete process – from incoming raw material to closing the loop with recycling of used batteries.

 Safety

Safety issues occur both in the battery production process itself and in the ready-made end product.

Safe and proper handling of different raw materials, gases and advanced chemical processes are integral parts of the production process.

Increased energy density in batteries comes with a price. Short circuits and heat related issues could, in worst possible conditions, lead to a thermal runaway, in which flaming gases are vented.

    Agility/speed

    Time-to-market is everything in an industry with exponential growth like battery manufacturing.

    It can take up to 5 years from idea/decision, until a new battery plant is up and running. With competent support through all phases of the build-up, computer-based design, testing and validation, valuable time can be saved in large-scale green-field projects and capacity ramp-ups.

    Efficiency

    In battery production, properties are never uniform between particles, cells, modules, and packs. At the same time, manufacturers strive for a large-scale production with stable, consistent predictive quality.

    New integrated production methods is a must to help produce more, using less energy and costly metals.

    Environmental issues

    Environmentally-friendly thinking and sourcing is key throughout the whole lifecycle – from incoming clean energy supply and lowered raw material consumption, to effective recycling solutions.

    Advanced pollution control ensuring minimum emissions from the production process helps – so will optimized products with near zero impact during the whole battery life cycle.

High performance batteries rely on Smart Manufacturing

Facing fierce competition and cost pressure, battery manufacturers are key adopters of Smart Manufacturing methods. We’re witnessing a digital transformation of a traditional manufacturing methods, where automation, digitalization, robotization, machine learning and management software solutions are fundamental.

Smart Manufacturing merges the physical and virtual worlds, continuously enhancing productivity by gathering and harnessing vast amounts of data to make better decisions. Data will tell “what to do” and “when to do it”, helping manufacturers meet changing demands and conditions in the factory in real-time.

Discover how ABB with its long experience in automation, robotics, manufacturing operations software and digital services can guide and support you with Smart Manufacturing solutions!

ABB also has experience in building management control - maintaining indoor humidity levels suitable for battery manufacturing - waste heat management and water/wastewater treatment. Relevant aspects in any battery manufacturing site. During operation, ABB offers service support with customized maintenance solutions including supervision and remote monitoring.

The giga-sized battery factories will consume a lot of electrical energy - equivalent to a small city. A robust and reliable electrical grid is therefore a key requirement, something that ABB can supply.

Photo courtesy of Northvolt AB

Photo courtesy of Northvolt AB

Quality Control

ABBs digital solutions enables the control and insight needed in effective battery production.

Modern Quality Management software, makes collection of production related data possible in real-time. To quickly recognize and respond to quality challenges is a major step towards ensuring overall quality.

    Traceability

    Deep cell traceability and integrated modules/systems gives opportunities to continuously improve design, sourcing, manufacturing, safety, performance, cycle life, predictive maintenance, total cost of ownership and more.

    Visibility

    End-to-end visibility throughout the whole manufacturing process – material development, process, cell, module, pack, battery management. Turning data into information will give you full insight and help find areas of improvement.

    Optimization

    Optimization thanks to highly automated, robotized and software-based manufacturing. Facilitates a wider range of customizable battery solutions in terms of scalability, pack / space requirements, energy density, weight, durability, life-expectancy, charging time and service life

     

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