As a result of market conditions and new climate goals, there is a growing reliance on electric mobility on the part of automobile manufacturers and automotive suppliers. For manufacturers, ambitious E-auto strategies are leading to rethinking production and storage concepts. Mixed production approaches for gasoline, diesel, hybrid and electric vehicles on a production line represent new challenges. Value added chains and logistics concepts must be adapted to requirements that have changed in the automobile sector. These changes are influencing the entire automobile supply chain – including system suppliers of intralogistics solutions. While a traditional combustion engine comprises more than 1,000 parts, there remain only about 20 components in an electric motor. Even though this leads to a reduction in the variety of parts in the supply chain on the one hand, it also increases the complexity when handling battery components, which are mostly produced automatically and are subject to strict safety requirements. Reliable and simultaneously cost-effective implementation of new intralogistics processes will be decisive in the success of electric mobility.
Automated high-rack storage systems are playing an increasingly critical role in the area of cell production and battery storage. Due to their high energy density, battery systems with lithium-ion batteries are currently one of the preferred energy storage systems in electric vehicles. A number of factors must be considered for reliable handling and efficient intermediate storage of these modern battery systems. DAMBACH storage technology thereby fulfills the high demands of handling capacity, storage density, and fire prevention concepts. Various storage and retrieval machines (SRM) or cross-transfer cars (CTC) with lifts are put to use, depending on the type of storage.
A variety of small load carriers are used, depending on the manufacturing process for the battery systems and the cell type. Additionally, differing geometries for cylindrical, prismatic, or pouch cells lead to different cell load carrier dimensions.
Battery cell load carriers may need to be stacked, stored in high-rack storage by means of push-pull grippers, or transferred to conveyor technology with telescopic forks for repositioning. The first priority thereby is the safe handling of the cells. With its coordinated load handling attachments, DAMBACH ensures a combination of form- and frictional locking during storage and removal in special formation racks. Exact battery cell positioning below the charging pins in storage is of great importance for successful charging and discharging during formation. Various aging stages during cell assembly lead to further storage system requirements. Temperature ranges of up to 50 °C place increased demands on the control system and electronics. DAMBACH makes use of highly dynamic telescopic tables for aging racks with support bases. The cells must be repositioned frequently, depending on the measured cell performance results. For large battery cell storage areas, this can lead to repositioning times of 2 - 5 seconds per unit in a warehouse. The weight of the cell-goods carriers thereby varies between 25 and 100 kg total weight per position. Because packing density plays an important role not only in battery packs but also for storage areas, DAMBACH builds storage and retrieval machines for automated small parts storage of up to 27 m in height. Low approach dimensions are simultaneously assured.
Automated storage concepts are also a key factor in a successful manufacturing procedure following the processing of lithium-ion cells into battery modules. After successful assembly into complete battery packs, the units of up to 300 kg in weight can be supplied to the actual production lines for electric vehicles. Depending on the material flow concept, pallet-storage and retrieval machines or distribution trolleys are suitable for this. DAMBACH offers various concepts for the safe transport of actual high-voltage batteries. The number of load handling attachments on storage and retrieval machines and conveyor technology are scalable and the most varied dimensions of battery-modules can be handled thereby without problems. The variable design of the storage and retrieval machines, whether in the form of a 1- or 2 mast machine, provides for further reserve capacity. Batteries of up to 3,000 mm in length therefore pose no problem. Due to the variety of modular electric platforms, battery storage systems must additionally always become more flexible.
DAMBACH storage systems can call upon 45 years of experience in storage technology in the automotive sector. Requirements of 99% storage availability, simple maintenance concepts, and a modular building set structure are fixed components of the DAMBACH production philosophy. Additionally, close cooperation with industry experts also allows for demanding fire prevention concepts to be taken into consideration early in the planning. Regardless of whether concerning solid state batteries or future rechargeable technologies, DAMBACH supports the design of sustainable storage concepts as a partner to general contractors.
Author: Dr.-Ing. Benjamin Thumm