As the electric vehicle (EV) market has been steadily on the rise over the past few years, the demand for EV batteries is naturally increasing. McKinsey According to data, global EV-battery manufacturers produced an estimated 2017 gigawatt hours of storage capacity in 30. This is an increase of almost 60 percent from a year ago - and this trend is projected to continue.
The driving forces of this trend are changing consumer priorities and the beginning of more sustainable policies compared to petrol and diesel vehicles.
Some countries, particularly Denmark and Iceland, have already announced plans to ban the sale of new fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2030. For now, we can expect the demand for zero-emission vehicles and vehicle-mounted batteries to increase significantly, although some have later deadlines to exit fossil vehicles.
Until recently, battery manufacturers were able to meet low-volume demand using limited automation and distributed information systems. However, this approach will not be enough when we want to supply billions of watts of energy that will be needed by electric vehicles in the future. Not only will demand for electric vehicles fly, the shelf life of batteries (though being improved each year) is still limited, and the need for battery replacement will continue to increase.
However, although European vehicle manufacturers have had difficulties in securing adequate battery supply, Asian manufacturers dominate the electric vehicle batteries market. So there is a serious opportunity for European battery manufacturers to step in and satisfy the market demand.
Due to the nature of these batteries, it is much more logical for battery manufacturers to build factories closer to home than to ship products because they are very difficult to transport.
This situation has become more pronounced, especially in the recent period, when the most successful operations are connected in a smart, highly automated and efficient manner. On the other hand, not all producers have made the necessary investments yet.
Of course, keeping up with the increasing battery demand is not the only challenge. Keeping up with the rapid evolution of battery technologies is another challenge. Because battery technologies are changing rapidly, you must be able to adapt to produce multiple battery types effectively. Being able to quickly change your production lines, but also manage revenue streams and quality control is vital. This is where automation is key.
In research by RockwellAutomation, leaders around the world say that their top priority for digital initiatives, excluding the automotive industry, is to increase operational efficiency.
Building strong battery partnerships in production areas is a time consuming and costly method in the long run, and starting to use new technologies is the most convenient way to move forward. The good news is it's not impossible to keep up with the rapid evolution in battery technologies.
In most cases, catching up with this evolution doesn't have to be difficult. Manufacturers need to invest in higher performance systems, but they don't have to do everything in one go. Transition to automated operations can take place gradually, at a sustainable and practical speed and scale.
Could using a Production Management System (MES) be the remedy? For battery manufacturers, using an MES can provide a solid foundation for building a high performance automated operation. Manufacturers can integrate control and business systems to create and track valuable production data, enabling the data to be analyzed and converted into insights suitable for processing.
There is a world of challenge for battery manufacturers, and a good MES can help solve those challenges. Quality and machine performance can be standardized by integrating process work instructions into machines.
Moreover, a good MES application can inform you when the limits set in the machine process are exceeded. So even though battery manufacturing technologies are getting more and more complex, manufacturers can respond to potential problems in real time without becoming a real problem for their business.
MES applications can be scaled according to the need, the flexibility of the company and how much optimization is allowed according to the critical growth periods. The key to successful battery manufacturing processes is to decide to become smart and to be responsive in the ongoing evolution of technological advances.
To sum up, battery manufacturers should consider the following issues very carefully in order to benefit from the advantages in the battery manufacturing market:
- Scale production over time: You can switch to automated operations gradually, gradually scaling up once you are sure about the ROI.
- Use a Production Management System: This is a high-performance automated operation and will serve as a foundation to grow your business.
- Prepare for the long run: Partner with experts like RockwellAutomation who can assist you every step of the way.
While building a Connectedenterprise is something that benefits every manufacturer, the sharp increase in electric vehicle sales today (and this rise is predicted to continue) creates a much more urgent and attractive opportunity.
Taking the time to create a smart manufacturing strategy and working with the right technologies and partners will reward you by putting you in the best position as the market grows.
If you want to learn more about high performance production in the battery industry and it will take place at Messe Stuttgart on April 28-39. Battery Show Europe If you are attending the fair, you can come to watch my presentation at the event.