Siemens and Capgemini: Supercharging battery manufacturing

Together they empower industrial players to accelerate battery engineering and gigafactory ramp-up.

Siemens has sponsored this post. Written by Puneet Sinha, Siemens Digital Industries Software and Pierre Bagnon, Capgemini.

(Image: Siemens.)

(Image: Siemens.)

The growing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and grid energy storage has created surging demand for lithium-on (Li-ion) batteries. Everyone from consumers to local and national governments seems ready to power their cars, trucks, buses and trains with cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels.

The good news is that there is no shortage of startups, spin-offs, incumbent battery suppliers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) ready to step in and seize the opportunity. According to a recent report by London-based EV market analyst Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, these businesses plan to invest more than $300 billion in high-producing battery plants—called gigafactories—by 2027.

Gigafactories are massive manufacturing facilities that produce the components and products associated with batteries, electrification and decarbonization. Gigafactories typically measure several million square feet, covering hundreds of acres of land. Because of their colossal size, these facilities promise to deliver high product volumes in a more cost-effective manner.

(Image: Siemens.)

(Image: Siemens.)

Growing pains: scaling battery production for the gigafactory

Of course, gigafactories are not without their headaches. Battery production has always been challenging, even before the current wave of demand. Equipment and operation are costly, and competition is stiff. Today, Asia leads the market, with Europe and the Americas investing heavily to catch up, bringing even more companies streaming into the sector.

The takeaway? Any manufacturer that wants to compete in the space must overcome new technical challenges and deliver safe and high-quality products in a cost efficient and profitable way—and at breakneck speed. But they’ll face daunting challenges:

  • Energy density and charging speed: Batteries must be designed to pack more energy into a smaller volume while ensuring safety. At the same time, users can’t wait for hours to recharge their EV while on a road trip. Engineers must quickly find ways to improve material chemistry, cells and pack designs to deliver higher energy density and faster charging while ensuring safety and durability.
  • Scale-up time: It typically takes five years from company announcement to the start of production of a gigafactory, with two more years to expand the production line and ramp-up to large-scale production. The battery manufacturing machines themselves require 18 months’ lead time according to McKinsey. Given the growing demand for batteries, manufacturers must significantly compress this timeline.
  • Scrap rate: Manufacturers must also significantly reduce the amount of waste produced in gigafactories. For a large-scale production facility, the scrap rate can reach 40% or higher during ramp-up. Even after manufacturing has stabilized, scrap can still top 15%. This is hardly a sustainable model for the environment or the business. A company that reduces scrap by 10 percentage points from today’s level will save $200 to 300 million per year for a 30 gigawatt-hour (GWh) factory.
  • Traceability: Manufacturing must also be more traceable to comply with coming regulations. EU has mandated that by 2027 any battery with more than2kWh need to have an electronic battery passport to ensure compliance with safety and traceability regulations. Other parts of the world are sure to follow with similar requirements.

Expert solutions and implementation with Siemens-Capgemini partnership

Clearly, companies must invest capital and hire more professionals to address these challenges. But that alone won’t be sufficient. Fundamentally, battery engineering and manufacturing involve very strong interaction among chemistry, electrical, electronics, mechanical and software domains, where some essential ones are either absent or very weak for Internal Combustion Engines (IC) engines development. Traditional engineering and manufacturing practices are often siloed and insufficient for battery production, risking over-engineering, sluggish and costly production, resulting in non-competitiveness.

Companies can ignite the needed transformation by combining digital and physical worlds, allowing them to unlock innovations for batteries and produce them at scale. The partnership of Siemens and Capgemini makes this transformation a reality.

Siemens Xcelerator portfolio provides end-to-end solutions spanning digital twin, automation technologies and internet of things (IIoT). Capgemini ensures the integration of Siemens technology in a full digital enterprise supporting a seamless connection between the digital and physical worlds and a scalable IT/OT system. Further, Capgemini engineers use Siemens technology to accelerate the product design and validation, but also the process and factory commissioning.

Together, the two companies empower industrial players to accelerate battery engineering and gigafactory ramp-up by 2X and help to reduce the scrap rate 3X faster.

Digital twins for low-risk product development and manufacturing

Siemens’ comprehensive digital twin technology is a powerful enabler for battery engineering, manufacturing process development and factory deployment. A digital twin is a virtual replica of a product or factory design or manufacturing process that battery manufacturers can use to design and validate their work long before investing in physical prototypes or manufacturing lines. Digital twins can be used for:

  • Battery design: Using a digital twin, engineers can quickly analyze battery cell and pack performance, aging and safety behavior, and unlock new possibilities for cell, pack designs and battery management systems. With simulation tools, teams have the freedom to experiment on the design and analyze their results digitally, which reduces over-dependence on time-consuming and costly physical testing.
  • Assembly lines, work cells and even whole plants: Engineers can use a digital twin to design and optimize machines and manufacturing operations before implementing them on the factory floor. This technology helps companies commission a new gigafactory and scale processes as the company grows.

Plus, once a company creates one successful gigafactory, it can leverage its digital twin to create replicas of the facility anywhere in the world, as well as linking the product and the manufacturing digital twin to evaluate interaction for improvements in both areas.

Connecting digital and physical gigafactories

Battery manufacturers can use a digital twin to create a backbone that includes virtual models, standardization libraries and product manufacturing information (PMI). Companies then use this data to execute and simulate their manufacturing processes to ensure viability before building a single prototype. The result is faster testing and commissioning.

Once production begins and physical data flows into the digital model, the twin becomes invaluable throughout the life of the gigafactory. The manufacturer can enlist technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) in the digital twin to identify and address potential quality or production issues in the physical plant. These digital technologies can work together to:

  • Enforce compliance.
  • Achieve end-to-end traceability.
  • Accelerate engineering changes as needed.
  • Connect data from the manufacturing line to material ordering, logistics, electronic work orders and bills of process.
  • Reduce scrap.

Ultimately, companies can use Siemens’ digital twin technologies with know-how from Capgemini to build a closed-loop manufacturing process that pays off throughout the gigafactory’s life.

Developing a data-driven operation strategy

In a fully representational digital environment, organizations can further integrate IIoT to find and improve quality issues. They can modify and test their products and processes as the market evolves. The Siemens-Capgemini partnership delivers a solid IT/OT platform and a standardized data model that ensures interoperability from different sources so teams can access and analyze the information they need when they need it.

Maintaining a secure platform

Cybersecurity remains as important as ever. Organizations must ensure their gigafactories—and the vital data contained within—remain secure.

Siemens and Capgemini provide manufacturing organizations with capabilities for quickly transitioning from design and prototyping to full production. By enlisting the tools and expertise available from the Siemens and Capgemini partnership, organizations can quickly and efficiently implement complete end-to-end solutions that address the many challenges inherent to gigafactories—and remain competitive in a cutthroat marketplace.

Conclusions and Next Steps

Manufacturing organizations need to increase production quickly and on a large scale to meet the growing demands for batteries and battery components. Given the challenges, including the need for speed, the high scrap rate and a desire for increased traceability, manufacturing organizations benefit when they can leverage the expertise of partners who are well-versed in the risks and rewards involved with building or expanding gigafactories. The partnership between Siemens and Capgemini offers companies a winning set of technological tools and industry know-how to help them reach their production goals and manufacturing targets, including throughput, quality and sustainability, not to forget the significant reduction of cost/kWh of produced batteries, which is a key market success factor, especially for EVs.

To learn more about what Siemens and Capgemini’s revolutionary partnership can do for you, watch how they solve the challenges and solutions involved with scaling gigafactory production to meet growing battery needs.

For more information, visit Siemens and Capgemini.

About the Authors

Puneet Sinha is senior director and global head of Battery Industry at Siemens Digital Industries Software.

Pierre Bagnon is executive vice president, global head of Intelligent Industry Accelerator at Capgemini.