Maximum Transparency Across All Levels at Samsung SDI Battery Systems

Maximum Transparency Across All Levels

Challenge

  • To establish a standardized data source for all departments and create a user-friendly solution
  • To best support quality assurance, amongst others, in the traceability field
  • To not only make the obvious transparent, but to also identify lingering errors and non-obvious interdependencies
  • To be able to derive prognoses from trend histories
  • To recognize unknown dependencies and patterns and to correspondingly adapt the processes

Solutions

Results

  • A tool from which all departments profit
  • Assessments as well as reports in real-time and at the touch of a button
  • More efficiency in all areas thanks to maximum transparency
  • Possible weaknesses in the product development process are immediately identified
  • Standardized appearance of technical documentation provided to third parties

The universally utilizable analysis tool from Rockwell Automation has been able to score in all departments with its production-increasing effects

The vision of Samsung SDI is to facilitate the proliferation of electric cars. And the signs bode well: On the one hand, there are numerous European countries such as the Netherlands, Great Britain or France, which have decided to pull fuel and diesel-powered vehicles from the street in the foreseeable future. On the other hand, India and China are fully backing the topic of electric mobility.

A combustion engine-free world is therefore being envisaged and supported from numerous sides. Based on a current study, the research and consulting company Wood Mackenzie, also known as WoodMac, estimates that the number of electrically driven vehicles will rise from today’s five million to 300 million by the year 2040. Faster charging times and greater range should provide this development with the necessary boost.

And this is where Samsung SDI Battery Systems comes into play: Because at the end of the day, it is the battery that decides the acceptance or non-acceptance of an electric vehicle.

“The size of the battery is the most important criterion. Other important factors, for example, are the volumic energy, longevity and naturally the quality of the utilized product. This is because a battery is not exactly hazard-free in the event of a malfunction,” states Christian Neubauer, Head of Production IT at Samsung SDI Battery Systems GmbH in Premstätten (Styria, Austria), summarizing what really counts for automotive companies that order such rechargeable batteries for cars, and for final customers, who ultimately drive them.

The automotive sector is full of “names” that rely on the know-how of SDI. No wonder: Executive Manager Stefan Röpke and his 530 member strong team know exactly what they are doing. “What makes Samsung especially stand out, is that the battery cells are developed in-house. This is a major advantage, as they form the main component of a battery,” explains Christian Neubauer.

Quality is critical for the company. This is why numerous test points continuously check what happens behind the scenes.

Challenge

Samsung SDI Battery Systems is rapidly growing. Sales have quadrupled over the past three years and are closing in on the 300 million euro mark. The annual production currently amounts to around 70,000 batteries. According to Neubauer, this also means that the capacity of the plant in Premstätten has been reached. “We manufacture on four lines. The production of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, however, cannot be compared with a typical serial production, where a finished product leaves the conveyor belt every few seconds. This is a very demanding process, which correspondingly takes longer. Our cycle time is around five minutes,” he said.

SDI battery packs comprise individual prismatic cells, which are finished into modules. Depending on the battery type and the desired road performance, multiple such modules, including electronics and control units, are fitted into a robust case. The process is completed by an “end-of-line check”, in the course of which the manufactured packs are examined right up to the smallest detail. “The requirements of the automotive industry are increasing: The time to market, i.e., the timespan between the tendering of a project and the start of serial production, is constantly growing shorter. Next to developing a tailored high-tech product, this implies that we also have to simultaneously design the corresponding production line in order to offer a suitable solution. The mechanical safety of the battery must be warranted, which is why we even execute crash tests, in which a truck collides with the rear end of an electric car at 120 kph. Last but not least, everything that happens in manufacturing must be documented,“ Neubauer said.

The topic of traceability, i.e., the seamless tracking of the entire creation process of a car battery made by Samsung SDI in Premstätten, is supported by the scalable FactoryTalk® Production Centre® manufacturing execution system from Rockwell Automation. “Numerous manufacturing companies still work with different systems as well as with processes involving paper – e.g., Excel lists. This makes it difficult to consolidate data from a wide range of sources, to bring it into context and to assess it in real-time. This is why we recommend that our customers digitalize all the relevant processes and the corresponding information,” says Johannes Landschauer, Account Manager End User at Rockwell Automation.

SDI battery packs comprise individual prismatic cells, which are finished into modules.

Solution

Samsung SDI Battery Systems can in the meantime answer questions like “Why are our fully automated facilities, of all things, the most productive between midnight and two in the morning? What are the reasons for that? What is different afterwards?”, at the touch of a button. The FactoryTalk® Performance application and FactoryTalk® Analytics™ platform make transparent in real-time what goes wrong behind the scenes or is not running optimally.

“Samsung SDI clearly adheres to the target of being the global number 1 in the rechargeable car battery segment. We require innovative, top-quality products to achieve this. With its FactoryTalk offering, Rockwell Automation helps us to become even better. Its software tools immediately highlight whatever goes wrong,” Neubauer said.

Everything is analyzed at Samsung SDI Battery Systems. Every single production step is documented by the MES. For example, FactoryTalk Analytics can potentially point out that the increasing error rates at a station where the batteries are bonded directly correlates to the adhesives drum recently integrated into the manufacturing process.

It could identify what influence the temperature in the factory hall has on certain processes. It could also make the peak times, in which the IT department is most at risk of being fully “bogged down” by queries, transparent.

“We have opted for FactoryTalk Analytics, because this tool functions both in a system-independent manner and universally, i.e., it is not limited to the illustration of production-relevant aspects. No matter whether production, controlling, IT or quality management – every department can profit from this user-friendly analysis software,“ Neubauer summed up.

Using it makes cost center accounting calculations just as visible for the management as target and actual statistics for production heads.

“In the past it was always the job of the IT departments to provide the necessary data sets,” Neubauer said. “Today, our employees can themselves easily filter out whatever they require for their assessments and reports and one can quickly identify interdependencies, of which one was not previously aware.”

Annual production currently amounts to around 70,000 batteries.

Results

Utilizing FactoryTalk Analytics has very quickly paid off for Samsung SDI Battery Systems. “This analysis tool contributes to significant increases in efficiency in the most diverse areas. It not only addresses the obvious, it also links the correct dependencies for a continuous improvement process, and, furthermore, is easy to use. Simply the fact that finding out what used to take at least an hour per user, can now be achieved within five minutes, shows how quickly this solution has amortized itself,” Neubauer said.

And he can also report on other benefits: “No matter whether our presence towards customers needs to be standardized, quality-relevant aspects kept continuously monitored or the entire production process documented in real-time – Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk software fully supports us in achieving our company goal to be and remain the best in class.”

Quality is critical for the company from Premstätten. This is why numerous test points continuously check what happens behind the scenes. “And if FactoryTalk Analytics helps us to respond more quickly to an error in a fully automated robot station with a cycle time of 400 seconds, because we can at a glance see that we are closing in on the defined threshold, then this is of course a significant benefit, in the truest sense of the meaning,” the Head of Production IT said.

An analysis system based on demand most importantly achieves one requirement: Maximum transparency.

For example, machine performance is easily monitored and analyzed by regularly examining the logging history of certain data sets.

“In the context of analysis, one first thinks of taking a closer look at past events or ones currently taking place,” Christian Neubauer knows. “We want to also increasingly use FactoryTalk Analytics and the underlying, intelligent algorithms for pattern recognition and the compilation of spot-on forecasts. Our final goal, which we want to reach together with Rockwell Automation, is to be able to respond in a timely manner and to proactively initiate counters before a problem actually arises.”

The results mentioned above are specific to Samsung SDI Battery Systems’ use of Rockwell Automation products and services in conjunction with other products. Specific results may vary for other customers.

Allen-Bradley, FactoryTalk ProductionCentre and Rockwell Automation are trademarks of Rockwell Automation, Inc. EtherNet/IP is a trademark of ODVA Inc. Trademarks not belonging to Rockwell Automation are property of their respective companies.

Case Studies

You, our customer, are most important to us. We listen, assess and respond to your needs, as these case studies will show. Filter stories by industry, services or products.