Siemens Digital Industries in partnership with the University of Warwick’s Manufacturing Group (WMG) has demonstrated that the commercial production of scaleable battery packs for the automotive industry is both feasible and cost-competitive. The project called AMPLiFII – Automated Module-to-Pack Pilot line for Industrial Innovation – is funded by Innovate UK, and is housed at the WMG’s Energy Innovation Centre (EIC), the UK’s largest battery research facility.
“AMPLiFII allows us to demonstrate our ability to automate the cell-to-module packaging process and help pave the way to full production. With the help of our partners such as Siemens we are developing the new knowledge, skills, technology and facilities to support UK industry as it seeks to use new technologies and processes in vehicle battery systems,” said Professor Robert Harrison, Professor of Automation Systems at WMG.
The research and development of this next generation of traction batteries is in response to the growing demand for hybrid and electric vehicles, with UK manufacturers increasingly keen on exploring the potential of vehicle electrification.
Siemens’s automation controls architecture, PLCs, networks and operator interfaces, are playing a central role in this innovation-led project aiming to increase the UK’s knowledge and capability in support of design and production methods for modular battery systems.
The relatively small volumes required to manufacture battery packs for niche or new market hybrid and electric vehicles has meant that UK manufacturers have historically avoided this market. But as demand increases for more sustainable transport solutions, and sales of electric vehicles surge, moves are being made to provide a flexible manufacturing solution for UK companies embarking on the production of batteries for vehicle electrification, in relation to road vehicles, track cars, buses and off-road vehicles.
It has brought together a consortium of interested parties which over the past three years has developed a modular, scaleable production facility that reconciles the aspects of production efficiency against configurability at an affordable cost. The project is also laying the foundations for an extendable approach to future data-led connectivity for data collection, work instructions and cloud analytic capability.
The pilot project focused on solutions for a range of sectors where a scalable, modular, pack centred solution around cylindrical cells was appropriate. Looking initially at packs of 18650 cells, the project has now entered its second stage – AMPLiFII and is currently working with 21700 cells in order to suit the evolving needs of customers looking at the technology and production outcomes.
The production line incorporates a modular extendable control network supplied by Siemens. It has the ability to scale as required and also the connectivity capability to enable it to be progressively extended and integrated with wider production equipment, as well as with Siemens cloud-based platform, Mindsphere.