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Festo ‘investing heavily’ in automating electric vehicle battery production

Manufacturing automation specialist Festo says it is “investing heavily” in automating the production of batteries for electric vehicles.

Festo says the trend towards electrification has led the company to pour in almost three-quarters of all its investment money into electrification initiatives.

Basically, there are many “gigafactories” and other types of battery manufacturing facilities being planned and built – and Festo is involved in developing manufacturing systems for a good number of them.

The engineering company says it is continuing to broaden its expertise and resources to “support the automotive industry’s changing needs as it transforms from the internal combustion engine towards electrification”.

Festo says it has a “comprehensive product portfolio”, and offers coordinated solutions for the robust, safe and precise gripping and transport of battery cells, along with many years of experience to help optimise machine safety and energy efficiency.

Producing battery modules is a complex process that involves assembling costly and potentially dangerous electrochemical elements.

Their production poses new challenges to the industry: for example, it is essential to avoid damaging the battery cells during handling.

In the last two years, Festo says it has “invested heavily to cover all the requirements for electric vehicle production”.

Festo’s research and participation in joint research projects, which focus on the handling process for producing solid-state Li-ion battery cells or recycling batteries, also contribute to their development.

Pete Rogers, national team manager for automotive at Festo GB, says: “We are already engaged with and supporting a range of gigafactory investments and subsequent projects for EV production, battery research and related infrastructure.

“Our specialist industry team is on hand to support the automation needs of this fast-growing sector.”

Festo offers many products and solutions for manufacturing machines and systems along the entire production process chain, including copper-, zinc- and nickel-free products and dry- and clean-room compatible products.

Festo’s energy-efficient piezo valves and servo press, for example, are already driving equipment for producing wound battery cells. Using high-quality products pays off in this application because the batteries are costly and gigafactories run at high cycle rates, so maximising uptime is paramount.

Production facilities for batteries and EVs are currently being planned and built worldwide at short notice and high speed. The ability to train and on-board large numbers of employees very quickly is crucial. Festo Didactic offers industry-specific training concepts: from the Festo Learning Experience Platform for self-study to hands-on training.

Dr Ansgar Kriwet, member of the management board for sales, says: “In 2020, 70 percent of Festo’s top projects in the automotive industry involved investments for electromobility.”

Over the next few years, Festo expects “significant double-digit percentage growth” in this segment.

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