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Shaping the Future of Battery Manufacturing with Digitalization

From technology development to gigafactory

Challenges and opportunities in battery manufacturing

Software solutions as a cutting point
As the world shifts its gear in transition to electronic vehicles, the skyrocketed demand in EV batteries almost caught the supply chain off guard. Calling for zero-emission, OEMs provide a wide selection of electric vehicles; companies see the opportunity of “Battery-as-a-Service” (BaaS) to promote swapping batteries for the purpose of eliminating time for charging. With an expected grow at CAGR 19 % from USD 56.4 billion in 2022 to USD 134.6 billion by 2027, attractive opportunities drive the momentum for battery manufacturing as well as the value chain involved. Automobile companies are seeking collaboration with energy industry, to secure material supply. Battery manufacturers, with regard to scalability, new products, and flexibility, are developing into ongoing market scenarios. Giga factories are built to enhance strategical pricing. Product portfolio are going diverse in reaction to the uncertainty of raw material supply. And last but not least, Enterprises are constructing multiple manufacturing sites in different locations with geopolitical concerns.   Huge opportunities bring about unprecedented challenges to the battery market. With the advance of technology and the power of digitalization, software solutions will be a cutting point to step further into difficult challenges and points to the key of business success in future battery manufacturing.

Everything is still in motion and many things still need to be tried out
The challenges can be perceived in two distinct factors: quantity and quality. It is obvious that manufacturers need to ramp-up volume as soon as possible to meet the increased market demands. The scalability of production required here is clearly determined by the supporting software solutions that can handle the gigantic data volume flows with acceptable response times. These have an impact on reliable delivery and strict lead times that put pressure on productions. From a quality point of view, the not-yet-matured manufacturing environment risks themselves with high cost in quality loss. For example, first-year yield for a giga factory is around 60 % — which means the equipment downtime should be optimized, quality issue to be resolved, and recalling of batteries need to be handled in a more systematic manner. To resolve quality issues, transparency in tracing and tracking, and root cause analysis becomes integral for improving overall output and establishing corrective actions. Even if everything is still in motion, the processes have not yet settled, and many things still need to be tried out, approaches should be already considered today on a corporate level to achieve manufacturing excellence that is based on standards, delivering maximum agility and optimal KPIs for higher productivity and profitability.

Digital continuity to streamline complete data
From the perspective of an experienced IT solution provider, camLine observes that these challenges are familiar. They can be combated through a centralized approach at corporate level. For example, well-established MES/MOM solutions that enable tracking and tracing in combination with overall monitoring and reporting. The power of digital continuity in the sense of end-to-end communication helps to streamline complete data from raw material to end product. Factory design can also be arranged through an orchestration system that enables load-balancing capacity between different locations, governance and performance. In addition, technology development IT solutions assist manufacturers to ramp-up time to market. Sustainability programs can be carried out by full integration of equipment, shop floor, operations, and enterprise planning. Launch a “digital continuity” journey with camLine, and take advantage of camLine’s strength and expertise as your reliable IT partner.

 

MES/MOM as a digital twin of the entire shop floor orchestration

A complete, detailed Manufacturing Execution System (MES) anchors shopfloor activities through centralized data collection throughout the giga factory. Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) can additionally orchestrate job-related production operations along with material supply and maintenance tasks. These systems serve not only as a digital twin on equipment level, but further develop the idea to an organizational, cost-saving scale for the entire enterprise. The contextualized manufacturing data are linked in a way that mirror how things are or have to be linked in the real world. The supervisory capabilities support macro-level design and monitoring, or detailed operator/ maintenance guidance. It ensures consistent operation and compliance with established standards. It helps visually validate conceptual business models. You get analytics of end-to-end process performance in real-time. Manufacturing data from the physical world are processed through analytical algorithms, providing detailed, accurate and actionable insights for root cause analysis. The system triggers notification to prompt closer monitoring, and identifying issues. It initiates automatic parameter adjustment. Operational plans are executed more effectively. Productivity can be increased and quality improved. This will drive through more stable and reliable operation performance. The predictive capabilities allow decision-makers to test and understand the impact of different scenarios. This will help identify opportunities and minimize risks.

Battery manufacturers are seeking higher energy density and safety with better quality and longer life span.

End-to-end product genealogy

Today, customers want to make sure they hold an “authentic” and reliable product in their hands. They expect guaranteed product safety and quality, and ethical purchase (e.g conflict-free mineral, eco-friendly materials). Compounding this challenge is the pace of today’s digital economy—unprecedented expectations in supply chain: speed, responsiveness, and traceability.

In automotive world, end-to-end product genealogy is very crucial. It is of equivalent significance when applied to battery manufacturing. camLine offers battery genealogy with manufacturing history from the first process step to the last, along with product, process, and material data. These are contextualized to be analyzed and monitored by a centralized Statistical Process Control (SPC) system. The traceability encompasses compliance, data integrity, lot/batch identification, serialization, product longevity, and recalls. With full transparency, hold lot (interlocking), trace and track, escalation precisely comes into play. In battery manufacturing, the transformation of product form from continuous to discrete manufacturing during the value-added processes can be traced and tracked in real-time.

Best in class real-time quality assurance

Qualify, scale, stabilize and improve…doesn’t matter at which stage your battery manufacturing is, a systematic quality assurance in highly demanding environment is the paramount for manufacturers to deliver committed products. If you aim for “quality has to be unified and exactly the same everywhere,” you need to standardize your quality assurance across all factories. Organization gets a powerful central database as its backbone for all processes and measurement data with contextual end-to-end connection to the manufacturing process and the entire supply chains (using digital versions of CoA). With shortest responsive time, the system allows immediate intervention in the ongoing manufacturing process or on the supply chain. With regard to CAPA, a systematic approach from Trouble Shooting Guides to a fully integrated workflow engine is implemented as the operators’ executable guideline through each step. The system automatically provides an escalation strategy for your corporate. Online, real-time monitoring renders transparency of each production step. This helps achieve zero defect in today’s competitive manufacture landscape.

At a closer look, automation of QA makes IQC more effective and cost-saving. It also creates the best conditions for customer audits and compliances with international standards. With more than 30 years of experiences, camLine’s flagship solution effectively avoids detour and boost your competitiveness.

Excellence in full equipment integration

One of the major challenges for a gigafactory is to collect data from various equipment types. Modern shop floor automation allows equipment vendors to supply equipment with, for example, a SEMI SECS/GEM and SEMI PV2 compliant interface with minimal effort. Many protocols are supported. It is highly flexible for process, equipment data recording, and prompt feedback communication.

Even for non-SEMI SECS/GEM experts, camLine’s equipment integration is easy to apply. It supports all major PLC products and PCs running industrial applications. Complex logic for different standard compliances. Optional MES interfaces are available to communicate with other systems like databases.

Cost reduction can be achieved through shortened time for equipment integration, through re-usability and configuration. The central administration helps to standardize shop floor automation in combination with flexible handling. Activation and transmission to process peripheric MES components are possible. You get event handling, process data collection, alarm management, recipe handling, remote command, and management of equipment constants.

For the construction of a gigafactory, you can rely on camLine’s many years of expertise in shop floor automation from many industries, e.g. semiconductor, medical equipment, automotive, and solar panels. camLine has fully integrated more than 300 manufacturing plants, globally. The infrastructure solutions achieve high availability up to 99.99% To date, fail-safe database clusters run more than 1,000 server nodes.

 

Factory to enterprise monitoring and reporting

Due to geopolitical concerns, many gigafactories are built in diverse areas to secure regional supply chain. But what about the internal communication across different manufacturing sites? Corporate monitoring and reporting will be the answer to the question. It facilitates management, violation summary, factory-to-factory communication, tool matching reporting, and process performance across all factories. In this way, cross-site KPI reporting and comparison can be automatically conducted. This is valuable for different roles in the organization, for example, to make root cause analysis more effective, or to assist more precise decision-making, saving time and efforts.

Typical function of corporate monitoring and reporting are drill-down features, clear hierarchical data structures, grouping, and filtering. What is special is that these quite usual capabilities are applied to live manufacturing data. Inquiries are interactively answered thanks to short response times. camLine offers enablers to access to information such as configurable dashboards, tables, charts, and graphics without programming. Responsible people in the factory will have an authorized overview to summarize quality data for technology, process flow, and product state with details. The solution is template-based, and calls for speed and convenience. Members of the organization can be well-informed about the latest status on demand, or cyclic reporting on assigned intervals.

Maximum equipment utilization throughout the lifecycle

The profitability of process operations is significantly driven by maximizing asset utilization and plant productivity. That explains why “keep your equipment running at peak conditions” becomes the motto for Asset Performance Management (APM). Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) reduces equipment downtime and minimizes the need for reactive maintenance. The pursuit of equipment lifecycle management, maintenance, and the online monitoring of equipment states and events are crucial components in regards to OEE, to mitigate risks of unexpected break-downs. It also helps to manage bottlenecks (as addressed in Theory of Constraints), and standardize equipment communication to launch asset management at corporate level.

The orchestration of all maintenance tasks increases throughput, optimize overall Return on Investment (ROI), and initiates continuous improvement. Digital maintenance workflows in combination with spare part management improve uptime through faster problem identification and corrective actions. Predictive and preventive maintenance tasks are carried out with clear instructions, and will be documented with time expenditure and material consumption.

Centralized manufacturing data lake

An independent manufacturing data warehouse is the foundation in pursuit of any corporate sustainability program. It provides you with the necessary prerequisite to demonstrate compliance with legal regulations or industry standards. Under the notion of “digital continuity,” it tears down silos from different data sources, and standardizes the information to achieve maximum data integrity. For medium- and long-term reporting, you need to plan precisely the right structures for all reporting data that will be needed in the future. When data derives from multiple sources, you need to aggregate and store them in so-called “data cubes” at a central repository for security, reliability, and availability reasons. Manufacturers need to have access and analyze these data to generate competitive advantage, for example, to enable lean recalls.

Data normalization and deep dive analysis are made easy with short response time. In addition, it provides KPIs with trending and comparing capabilities on different grouping levels. You can set new standards for your organization, which makes service levels of all your production sites measurable and comparable.

R&D to mass production

The drastic increase in demand for EV batteries revolutionizes the supply chain and business domain in battery manufacturing industry. Automobile companies are seeking collaborations with battery manufacturers, while existing, established battery market players are expanding/ building new giga factories in respond to the surging demand. The goal is to develop advanced technologies that brings higher energy density and higher safety at a lower cost. Newly developed technologies such as lithium-air, lithium-sulfur and all-solid-state batteries are in severe competition with state-of-the-art lithium-ion technology. However, none of the technologies can claim themselves to be in a stage of maturity for series production.

The challenge would be—what would be the best practice for ramping-up time to market? In this case, an end-to-end solution that keeps track of all itinerary cycles from experiment stage to mass production will be of great help. camLine’s technology development solution shortens the learning curves. It allows full transparency of the development progress for the entire engineering team. Product genealogy is rooted at the very beginning. The system will capture lessons learned and save it as available knowledge for the future. It reduces the cost of extra experiments, and enables a transfer of the process flow to a fabrication environment. Through experiment management, you enrich your IP by detailed documentation of your development activities. The information needed will be seamlessly brought to MES for mass production most effectively in shortest time and preserved with highest data integrity.

Manufacturing software solution provider for various industries

Agility, efficiency and reliability depicts camLine’s DNA. Over the past three decades, camLine has accumulated many experiences from different industries mostly from semiconductor, automobile, medical equipment, and solar. Global footprints encompass Europe, Asia, and North America, where manufacturing software solutions are provided to global enterprises.  Business applications developed by camLine are based on leading edge IT technology for the mass production, supporting massive transaction volumes. Through various participation and collaboration in industrial funding and research projects, the company contributes its competence in software technology, and maintains intensive communication with manufacturing experts. Innovative prototyping and proof of concept point to the future of IT guidelines in manufacturing.

From 2022, camLine will demonstrate proof of concept and its capabilities to support battery manufacturers to overcome foreseeable challenges.

New norm of customer-oriented, project-based solution

Start your pilot with camLine!

Early software adopters win the game
Customer-oriented project consulting proves itself with high efficiency and quality. The agile adaptation to industry and customer requirements takes the form of project delivery that completes the last mile to implementation. The basis for your pilot is provided by software products with out-of-the-box capabilities and running in stability. These products have been actively running and successfully implemented for years as independent and compact business applications. The know-hows from several industries over decades have shaped camLine products and are converted into customers’ best practice standards. This is how the approach of “customer-oriented, project-based solutions” is viable, and can be directly transferred from semiconductor, solar panel, medical devices, to battery manufacturing.

Want to know more?
Mirčo Krsteski
Key Account Manager
Mirco.Krsteski[@]camline.com

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