Cost-effectively automation for improved throughput in battery production

by | Apr 30, 2024 | Sustainable manufacturing, Extreme Lithium Battery Manufacturing | 0 comments

Partner contribution: Bosch Rexroth, Expert: Andreas Letsch

Bosch Rexroth offers a comprehensive portfolio of solutions for efficient, highly productive factory automation

  • Comprehensive automation portfolio for the entire value stream
  • Components, modules and system solutions from a single source
  • Linear robots and many other economical complete solutions

Electromobility, consumer electronics, building technology – the demand for energy storage is greater than ever. Bosch Rexroth supports this development with comprehensive process expertise, many years of experience and a broad automation portfolio with worldwide service.

Battery production requirements evolve constantly. One of them is an increased speed to improve throughput in this fast growing industry. Bosch Rexroth supports machine and system manufacturers with a wide range of components and systems for the entire value stream to make it even more productive and economical. The key to short cycle times, low production costs and high flexibility lies in a broad, flexible automation portfolio with open interfaces for digital networking. Last week at the Hannover Messe trade fair, Bosch Rexroth demonstrated how rapidly deployable linear robots optimize processes in module and pack assembly and disassembly by performing typical tasks such as handling, tightening or dispensing quickly and precisely. The new showcase focuses on battery module and pack assembly as well as the disassembly. It is all about showing how Rexroth products allow high throughput for improved productivity, e.g. by enabling on-the-fly processing.

The showcase demonstrates how different material transport systems reduce costs by combining e.g. a chain conveyor, which allows transport at a very competitive price, with a high-end very precise linear motor driven system. This allows high throughput and precision exactly at the spot where it is really needed by the processes, e.g. for a joining process like tightening or welding. Improved throughput requires material flow solutions which act as a native motion of the machinery itself which reduces costs as well as complexity. The key to combine these different solutions is our automation platform ctrlX AUTOMATION.

As a further cost-efficient complete solution for module and pack assembly, Bosch Rexroth offers linear robots for typical applications such as handling cells or packs, tightening or dosing. The high mechanical rigidity and repeatability across the entire working area is essential for many processes. In order to achieve short cycle times, several processes can also be mapped simultaneously on a single linear robot, for example tightening or a dispensing process. In the showcase, a double gantry system is used which allows parallel processing.

The linear robots from Bosch Rexroth are supplied as complete mechatronic packages, optionally with pre-installed operating software. This allows them to be quickly commissioned, sequenced and connected to the higher-level line control system. Open interfaces for connecting various end effectors such as grippers, dispensing heads or the Smart Flex Effector from Bosch Rexroth, which won the Hermes Award in 2023, ensure the greatest possible flexibility of use. The Smart Flex Effector allows industrial robots to act as sensitively as a human hand, enabling even complex processes to be automated. Especially in cases, when jigs, grippers etc. obscure the line of sight of vision systems, the Smart Flex Effector enables assembly by supporting the robot with a sensing gripper. 

The new exhibit: The linear robot on top picks the battery cell on the right from the chain conveyor. The cells are inserted into the module on the left side, which is powered by a linear motor driven transport system. The screws of the lid are tightened with the spindles which are attached on the double gantry on top. All these products work seamlessly together with the open automation system ctrlX AUTOMATION. (Image source: Bosch Rexroth AG)

The Rexroth portfolio for battery production includes individual components, system solutions and subsystems from linear, joining and transfer system technology as well as the fully open automation system ctrlX AUTOMATION that surmounts the classic boundaries between machine controls, the IT world and the Internet of Things. With the real-time capable operating system Linux, consistently open standards, app programming technology, web-based engineering and a comprehensive IoT connection, ctrlX AUTOMATION reduces components and engineering costs by 30 to 50 %.

With the broad portfolio of hardware and software solutions, a wide range of solutions can be implemented and networked throughout the entire value stream. At the heart of the automation system is the control system ctrlX CORE which acts as a link between material flow and processes to ensure that the precision and speed requirements e.g. for tightening are met. The drive system ctrlX DRIVE complements the solution portfolio for battery production with compact and modular servo drives and servo motors.

The new fair exhibit, which is of course a compromise as it was scaled down so it can be moved from show to show, is a highly condensed version of the far larger applications at customer sites worldwide. Next chance to see this showcase is the upcoming Battery Show Europe in Stuttgart. Visit Bosch Rexroth from June 18th to 20th at Hall 10, Booth A40 (tickets and more details).

The Rexroth automation portfolio for battery production ranges from electrode and cell production to end-of-line testing of packs and the discharging process for recycling.

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About the author

Andreas Letsch

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