Written evidence from (BEV0005)

Call of Evidence

Author Introduction:

Mr. Vignesh Srinivasan is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in the field of second life batteries for energy storage applications under the Faculty of Institute for Advanced Studies (Electrical Engineering) at UMPEDAC, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia. Prior to his Ph.D., he worked as Project Assistant at PuREnergy Private Limited which is incubated out of IIT Hyderabad, India. During his tenure as Project Assistant, he worked on the development of range prediction algorithm for electric vehicles (the technology is patented by PURE), Electric powertrain testing on motor dynamometer, cell and battery pack testing at the battery emulator integrated with temperature chamber and later he designed the specifications for chassis dynamometer for electric vehicle performance assessment including R&D as well as End of Line purposes. Post his promotion as Application Engineer – R&D Powertrain, he worked on sensors for data acquisition at powertrain, battery and vehicle level. He also supports as technical consultant to EV startups and testing agencies in India at whole vehicle integration level, hardware, and software assistance for R&D. In addition to this, he also serves as Ambassador for the Battery Associates Research Community, Dublin – Ireland, where he supports the team on the development of open-source battery cycler, technical panel discussions on batteries. Mr. Vignesh holds Masters degree in Automotive Engineering with specialization in Electric Vehicles from VIT Vellore in collaboration with ARAI Pune. He completed his Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering from J.J. College of Engineering & Technology (now owned by Sowdambika group of Institutions), Anna University, Chennai. During his bachelors, he served as Lead Design Engineer to THANISTER 08 team, who secured AIR 30th position in the overall category at SAE NIS Efficycle 2015. Along with his bachelors, he also worked as Faculty – CAD design and analysis at TCIL – IT Computer Education and Training Center – Trichy.

Theme selection:

Do we have the skills in the workforce required for the production of batteries?

Comments from the author:

  1. With reference to the skills in the workforce, it is recommended to understand the present challenges faced by various battery manufacturers. From there, the necessary skills can be mapped.
  2. Battery manufacturing defines the technical competency of an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) who can be in the form of an EV startup or a well-established entity in the automotive sector.
  3. Cell manufacturing holds a plethora of challenges ranging from extraction raw materials for Cathode Active Material (CAM) preparation, anode preparation, slurry formation, coating on the cathode and anode foil, rolling, calendaring, can assembly, electrolyte filling and terminals connectivity for a cell which can be of any form factor, any capacity.
  4. Though the cell manufacturing process got robotized in many steps, achieving the cell-to-cell homogeneity in the battery manufacturing premises is still a challenge owing to transportation uncertainty, government policies on import and export, the way the cells are being stored and handled by different OEM’s couldn’t get standardized till date.
  5. At the cell manufacturing state, the cell has been tested for a predefined number of cycles to ensure the repeatability in performance. However, the same repeatability isn’t ensured at the OEM where the lack of standard test protocols, battery production timelines do differ in order to match with the sales targets.
  6. The arrival of “Battery Passport” will cater the necessary support to standardize test protocols on cell level at the battery manufacturer premises.
  7. Assessing the cell and battery level performance characterizations differs from one OEM to the other (mainly due to custom selection of cell form factors by the OEMs to suit their requirements).
  8. The battery design poses a unique challenge to all the OEMs on opting for the best one which can take care of thermal and electrical safety without compromise in the performance.
  9. Problems associated with battery integration requires handling the Battery Management System (BMS) and battery pack assembly together for a visual inspection aided with quantitative data analytics. Depending on the battery design, cells used and the cooling system, the process of battery integration differs from one OEM to the other.
  10. There are standards proposed for storage and dispatch of lithium-ion battery packs. However due to the geographical influence, following the standard requires it to be locality specific and also should cover the scope of demand.

 

  1. In order to address the above-mentioned challenges, it is recommended to have the necessary skill set in the following areas.

a)      Battery packs assembly process, lean manufacturing.

b)     Programming and data analytics.

c)      Proactive visual inspection for Quality Control (QC).

d)     Thermal and electrical behavior of coolant materials used in the battery pack.

e)      Knowledge about the fundamental chemical reactions.

f)       Essential safety protocols on handling the battery pack at production area / dealerships.

  1. Commenting about the present status of skills, the electric mobility era is booming, so is battery manufacturing. Hence, it is required to hone the necessary skills.

If not what needs to be done?

  1. The following steps can be considered for skill upgradation of employees in battery manufacturing.

g)     Training classes for new joiners, interns, on the basics of do’s and dont’s in battery manufacturing.

h)     Availability of opensource codes to handle battery data.

i)       Proposing the necessary equipment to quantify the battery performance along with its automated data acquisition.

j)       Organizing the technical meeting on battery manufacturing and train the employees.

k)     Exploring the basics of thermal runaway incidents in a battery manufacturing facility, conducting the necessary drills on the same.

l)       Awareness on QC protocols proposed for battery manufacturing.

m)   Fundamental knowledge about handling the equipment for manufacturing the battery pack.

n)     Conducting the skill development program for every quarterly / half yearly would enhance the knowledge of workforce.

o)     Having a practical demonstration on battery manufacturing would be great to propose to the battery manufacturers who can select the best one which suits their repertoire.

  1. There could be some additional things to be improved in battery manufacturing. By any means, the necessary things in making the battery should not be compromised at any cost.