LEWIS CENTER, OH—ATS Industrial Automation Inc. recently unveiled a new facility here to produce battery assembly and test equipment. It is currently building assembly and testing lines for General Motors that will enable the automaker to mass-produce Ultium battery packs used in a variety of electric vehicles.
The opening ceremony was attended by Ohio governor, Mike DeWine, in addition to members of GM’s senior leadership team.
“This is an opportunity to highlight ATS,” says Andrew Hider, president and CEO of ATS Industrial Automation. “To stand side-by-side with a crucial customer and really align on the possibility, and on what we can do to drive change.”
“We have a long-standing working relationship with ATS and are proud of the work we have accomplished implementing our strategy for zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” adds David Russler, engineering group manager for battery and engine assembly at GM.
To scale up production efforts to satisfy growing customer demand, GM needed to automate its EV battery assembly and testing operations. The automaker faced challenges around using automation, such as making quality welds, optimizing floor space to maximize production, and coordinating material delivery to assembly lines. GM partnered with ATS to solve these challenges.
The ATS SuperTrak modular conveyor platform is the heart of GM’s new Factory ZERO battery assembly plant. It enabled the automaker to increase throughput and gain a 50 percent improvement in plant floor efficiency.
ATS also supplied GM with a laser welding system that produces thousands of robust joints on battery modules and packs. It spent three years developing a unique process that accurately detects and validates the welds. By reducing any opportunity for a weld failure, ATS optimized welding efficiency by 30 percent, creating a reliable and repeatable production process.
“This project has required support from around 650 ATS employees in three countries and is now allowing the company to support nine different phases of GM’s work in three of their facilities,” says Hider. “The end result is the culmination of nearly 20 years of execution in this space and uses industry-leading insights to build a solution that is high-tech, high-speed and high-value.”
Later this year, ATS plans to build a 240,000-square-foot addition to its Ohio facility, which is located in a suburb of Columbus.
“Our expansion demonstrates growing demand; ATS has experience to support our key EV partners,” says Dave Kelly, vice president of sales at ATS Industrial Automation, SGA Mobility. “We see this growth as a continuation in our EV strategy to support the...shift to sustainable battery and battery storage technologies.”