Bosch to supply complete battery gigafactory manufacturing lines

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Bosch is pooling its industrial automation and mechanical engineering expertise to offer factory equipment for battery production from a single source for the first time.

The company is aiming for E250m of sales by 2025 to capitalise on the boom for battery gigafactories around the world but particularly in Europe as production is expected to grow 25 percent per year. Bosch already uses the production expertise in its own plants. It is starting full-scale production of second-generation 48-volt batteries at its plant in Eisenach, Germany with an investment of E70m to expand production. During production, more than 90 components pass through over 100 process steps at the plant.

The capability being offered to customers ranges from individual components and software solutions to complete assembly lines for 48V mild hybridization to fully electric drives and fuel cells. One of the pilot customers is Webasto, which is equipping its battery factories with Bosch technology.

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Webasto has been involved in electromobility since 2016 and, in addition to high-voltage heaters and recharging solutions, also focuses on battery systems for electrified vehicles. Battery production at Webasto’s plant in Schierling, Germany, serves as a blueprint for new production facilities like the one in Dangjin, Korea.

Bosch’s role is to supply automated assembly lines for welding and gluing the battery cells. For this purpose, the various functions of module production are combined: cell cleaning with incoming inspection, the stacking process as well as a special laser-welding process, and end-of-line inspection for quality assurance.

Robots automatically assemble the cell stacks in a two-step procedure consisting of dispensing technology and laser welding. With a comprehensive safety concept, it is then possible to establish the battery module’s electrical connection using a highly dynamic and precise laser-welding process.

“We know batteries like the back of our hand, as well as how they have to be manufactured,” said Rolf Najork, the member of the Bosch board of management responsible for industrial technology. “Our assumption is that the global battery market will grow up to 25 percent each year. Bosch is doing its part to meet this demand,” said Najork.

Next: Beyond e-mobility batteries

Bosch also has experience in developing batteries for vehicles as well as for e-bikes, power tools, and kitchen appliances, and has extensive manufacturing expertise.

Since 2015, the Bosch plant in Miskolc, Hungary has been manufacturing high-performance e-bike batteries that feature an extended range and a long service life. Before the batteries, together with the drive and display, can be combined to form a perfectly synced e-bike system, the manufacturing process has to go through roughly 20 stages. These include incoming inspection for the cells, module and pack assembly, and battery management system integration.

Bosch serves both as a general contractor for factory construction and as a supplier of individual components and software solutions.

“As a leading IoT company and successful machine manufacturer, we offer the opportunity to customize the factory of the future,” said Najork. Bosch develops equipment, machinery, hardware, and software for manufacturing battery modules and packs that are built from cylindrical, prismatic, or pouch cells and used in electric vehicles. Tightening, welding, and gluing processes are used to firmly connect the cells to each other. Depending on requirements, Bosch can supply either partially or fully automated lines. Drive and control technologies, intelligently designed manual workstations, manufacturing execution systems (MES) for production scheduling, and software for connecting machines and systems are also part of the company’s portfolio.

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