Scalable Lithium Battery Production and Assembly System
A battery manufacturer wanted to increase productivity and total product throughput on a 24-hour cycle using robot technology and other automated peripheral devices.
Optimation was approached by a global manufacturer of specialty battery power sources, renowned primarily in defense, medical, safety, and industrial radio advanced RF communications markets. The client aimed to seize an opportunity to gain market share, revenue, and greater profitability through the introduction of advanced automated assembly capabilities. Prospective new market opportunities in wireless security and home automation meant a potentially near-immediate and explosive opportunity lay before them, if they acted quickly and effectively.
The system was to be built for their lithium products line and tailored to these market needs for optimal results. After surveying commercially available subsystems for production, the client settled on a variety of custom-designed stations to be integrated by Optimation. The operation would be based in the company’s American manufacturing center.
Optimation and the client specified and coordinated a backbone of custom material handling. It tied together various work-centers of existing client equipment and new custom systems. Optimation devised an architecture that met the initial production capacity targets and could expand to deliver more than triple that amount with only small capital upgrades required as demand grew.
Optimation was responsible for all materials handling and conveyance for the product throughout the line, including design, fabrication, and installation of Optimation equipment as well as integration of third-party equipment.
Optimation automated and integrated four SCARA 4-axis robots, including production flow mitigation and all safety protocols for all the machines using Allen-Bradley ControlLogix platform.
Optimation provided mechanical design for cages and guarding for the robots. End-of-arm tooling was custom fabricated for each robot. Purchased components included pneumatic grippers, rotators and sliders.
After Factory Acceptance Testing, the systems were disassembled, packed and moved to client site, where they were reassembled and installed by Optimation personnel. This included precision alignment, which was a crucial step, as the conveyor needed to be perfectly level for the robots to operate correctly due to their need for a controlled and accurate environment – up to .001 of a millimeter repeatability/accuracy.
The project is currently in the process of SAT and startup.
Optimation’s system architecture and robust design enabled production volumes, that could not be assembled locally, cost-effectively, without automation. System elements were sourced from manufacturers across the globe from the USA, Canada, and China. Optimation’s Rockwell-based architecture enabled the communication among these differing systems allowing them to perform as one, delivering the required throughput with minimal manual interaction and maximum safety and quality specified in.
In the initial phase of implementation the client expects to achieve sufficient production throughput to justify this, their most significant capital project of the past ten years. As the target markets grow to meet or exceed the forecasted volumes the battery systems assembly line will be able to keep up, producing more assembled lithium power sources at continually high levels of quality, right here in the USA.