The manufacture of electric-vehicle batteries provides a good enough reason to celebrate on its own. At the closing ceremony of Honeywell Process Solutions’ inaugural Gigafactory Day, participants involved with the automation of that industry celebrated the completion of a slate of presentations and announcements with prizes, cake and champagne during this week’s 2023 Honeywell Users Group in Orlando, Fla.
The term “gigafactory” was coined by Tesla for its own battery-production sites. Because facilities, such as Tesla’s first gigafactory, which opened in 2016 in Nevada, would be planned and built to annually manufacture battery packs with capacity collectively equaling billions of watt-hours—hence, GWh—the gigafactory was named accordingly.
Honeywell’s Battery Manufacturing Excellence Platform (MXP) was the marshal of the celebratory parade, leading a lineup of technology innovations during Gigafactory Day. Some of the values associated with Battery MXP include:
• Visibility across the order-to-inventory manufacturing value chain;
• Slurry-to-cell traceability and genealogy; and
• A single-pane-of-glass solution for battery manufacturing management.
Michael Kennelly, Honeywell’s gigafactory vertical business leader, left the group of revelers with five key takeaways from the day:
1. The first was the advantage of a fast start-up using an industry-specific manufacturing execution system (MES), such as the one in Battery MXP. “The data is critical to the ramp-up of the factory,” he said. “Having an MES will speed up the ramp-up.”
2. Closed-loop control helps you to operate in a more efficient manner. “It gets you the quality that you need and the yield that you get as a result,” said Kennelly. “Having closed-loop control frees up your operation and guarantees your outcomes.”
3. Instant visibility equals rapid decision-making. “If you spend a lot of time gathering data, you run out of energy,” said Kennelly. “If you can have data at your fingertips, you can reduce scrappage and see challenges faster.”
4. Proactive quality response is necessary in a scaled production facility. “With connected TrackWise Digital quality management system (QMS), you can visualize and manage developments at the scale of a gigafactory,” he explained. “There’s a lot that can go wrong, and a lot of little things may have a bigger impact. You need a proper process to manage the quality in a gigafactory. A firefighting mode is not sustainable.”
5. Integrated operations empower your workforce. Obtaining and training the workforce is a challenge, explained Kennelly. “You can use your skilled personnel to coach your new personnel to get them up to speed,” he said. “This is key to getting your workforce skilled up, as well as using the technology.”