As the battery industry struggles for speed to profitability, digitalization emerges as key solution to improve payback trajectory, yield trajectory, and overall operational efficiency.
Due to the huge quantity of necessary equipment in an xGWh gigafactory, when setting up a factory, battery manufacturers will need to purchase equipment from different suppliers, each providing specialized machinery and technologies. The implementation of multiple equipment directly impacts the production process and, ultimately, the quality of batteries manufactured. Battery manufacturers must ensure consistent quality no matter which equipment they are faced with using.
As battery manufacturers aim to meet increasing demands, scaling up production poses a significant challenge. Rapid expansion requires ramping up production levels while maintaining consistency in quality and performance. This challenge calls for efficient processes, advanced in-line quality control, and smart data collection that will have an impact at two levels:
- Real-time reduction of scrap and increased yield through a closed-loop control system or corrective action from the operator as soon as the process drifts.
- Offline data-driven analysis to maintain high quality and efficient processes.
While traditional battery manufacturing has well-established cell traceability, recent advancements highlight the importance of implementing traceability at the electrode manufacturing level for each individual electrode.
By tracking and tracing each individual electrode from its creation to cell assembly, manufacturers can unlock a range of benefits:
- Early detection of defective electrodes: Through electrode traceability, manufacturers can identify electrodes that deviate from tolerances during coating, calendaring, and slitting processes. Bad electrodes can be ejected at the last process step before cell assembly.
- Facilitating root cause analysis: By associating data with each individual electrode, manufacturers can quickly access information based on battery and cell identification numbers. Combining data with electrode IDs allows for efficient root cause analysis. This comprehensive traceability infrastructure also limits the scope of any potential recall by isolating problems to affected batteries.
- Understanding the correlation between battery performance and intermediate products and parameters to improve and maintain steady production.
To establish individual electrode traceability:
- Implement a 2D marking system integration in the coating machine to mark data matrix codes. The marking system is based on several IR laser heads. The laser heads are synchronized to mark the unique codes in the correct place. The configuration of the marking system is dimensioned considering electrode dimensions, foil width, machine speed, and coating type (skip or continuous)…
- Perform real-time code reading at each manufacturing step and real-time data collection through industrial communication protocols and combination with each individual electrode.
- Store the combined and contextualized data.
Implementing traceability at the electrode manufacturing level requires expertise in multiple areas:
- Expertise in real-time operational systems implementation on the shop floor.
- Having a cross-sectional view of all manufacturing processes to build a solution that will be coherent end-to-end.
- Expertise in contextualized data acquisition and storage in order for information to be valuable and processable for MES.
Choosing the right partner for this strategic topic is therefore crucial for battery makers. Involved in the battery industry since 2005, IN-CORE Systèmes is a French company with proven industrial installations of advanced in-line quality control of electrodes as well as full implementation of traceability solutions at the electrode manufacturing level. If you have questions or wish to have a more detailed conversation about all these topics, please contact us!