The number of electric vehicles is growing and so, too, is the demand for batteries. To maximize safety, quality and output, assembly lines for EV batteries are highly automated. Whereas engine assembly requires high-precision installation of mechanical components, battery module production involves expensive electrochemical components. As a result, components for fully automated battery cell production must be free from copper, zinc and nickel. In addition, battery assembly is often done dry rooms or clean rooms.
Festo has designed a variety of mechatronic products to ensure sturdy, safe and precise gripping and transportation of battery cells. Safety is a key element. Battery cells must be carefully protected against damage caused by falling.
At the Hannover Messe virtual trade show in April, Festo showcased a modular assembly system for battery modules and battery packs. The system uses an energy-efficient combination of pneumatic and electric drives. Its main focus is the safety of battery module handling. A swivel module positions locking mechanisms under the cell to prevent it from being dropped unintentionally. A mechanical locking system on the cylinder holds the end position securely to prevent dropping if there is an unexpected loss of energy.
Optical sensors detect the mechanical alignment of the cell in a parallel process during movement. The cell’s polarity is also measured electrically. If the voltage is incorrect, the cell is removed from the process. The tested cells are placed into the module housing in the correct orientation. (If the battery is accidentally installed with the poles the wrong way round, this can cause the module to short circuit.)
The system collects and analyzes data on the performance of each component, and it will issue an alert if, for example, a gripper must be replaced.
Since battery recycling will become increasingly important in the future for sustainability reasons, the system can also be used to disassemble battery packs.
Besides automation components, Festo offers automation engineering, expertise and training in battery production through its Festo Didactic and Festo Training and Consulting divisions.