What does the R&D centre in Voderady look like, from up close, what phase is it currently in, and what’s going on with its construction and logistics? Let me invite you on a short tour, and reveal some details that you’ve certainly never heard before.
The dreams and goals of company managers are as varied as their business fields. There’s one dream, however, which I think we’ll all agree on. Specifically, I’m talking about the goal of building and creating something so unique, and so great, that the cooperation between science and business will bring an enormous added value. What do you think, did I hit the nail on the head?
In my own professional career, I’ve focused on the manufacturing logistics within the automotive industry, on new technologies, or innovative IT solutions. I’ve tried many different things, but the new project in Voderady has given me a whole new sense of purpose — especially in terms of giving me the opportunity to manage a project in a field as dynamic as e-mobility. What does the new R&D centre in Voderady look like, what phase is it currently in, what’s going on with its construction and logistics, and what could the future of e-mobility in Slovakia look like? Here you are, let me invite you on a quick trip through our R&D centre, and share some details that you certainly hadn’t heard before.
LET’S LOOK AT THE PROJECT FROM UP CLOSE
I think science and research are the two areas that best show us what direction new technologies should be developed in. That’s why it’s understandable that, in InoBat Auto, we chose to prioritise the construction of an R&D centre in Voderady, which will include our pilot manufacturing line. You’re likely to agree with me that behind every successful project, there are the talented people who’d helped it become a reality. I’ve already had a chance to get to know my new colleagues at InoBat Auto, and I’m excited to see the enthusiasm and passion with which they’re planning this R&D centre full of innovative technologies. Our hardworking team makes me certain that, once the construction is completed, Slovakia will have an R&D centre of unusual dimensions. One which will be of interest to the whole world.
THE FIRST PHASE: BROWNFIELD BASED ON GREEN ENERGY
Let’s look at the construction of the R&D centre. Why did I call this hall a “green dream”? And why can this project truly become one, despite the fact that we’re talking about the manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries? It’s because InoBat Auto takes pride in its mission to foreground green energy and reduce its environmental burden — the decision to create a Brownfield construction project is further evidence of the company’s principles. The first phase will take place in the existing building, which is 12 years old and has previously been used by a different industry. Now, it’s waiting for its chance to help advance electromobility and InoBat Auto as a company. The first step towards success is the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) approval that we’ve been granted, which serves as evidence that our company is environmentally friendly. Currently, we are in the last stages of finalising our design solutions and creating the layout of technological components within the centre, as well as in the last stage of obtaining the building permit.
THE SECOND PHASE: MANUFACTURING BATTERIES THAT WILL BE THE FIRST OF ITS KIND WORLDWIDE
The next important step in InoBat’s strategy is the second phase, the so-called Gigafactory, which will encompass the mass manufacturing of the batteries themselves. A professional project team of construction, technology, and mechanics experts is currently working on the expansion and modelling of this phase. Moreover, the planning of our construction and technological manufacturing components is being collaborated on with one of the biggest experts in this field — the Japanese company TAKENAKA. We’re not forgetting about environmental protection in this phase either, and we’re also focusing on researching new technologies of ventilation and air purification.
WELL SET-UP LOGISTICS ARE THE KEY TO SUCCESS
Let’s look at it pragmatically. The market is full of companies which are already offering above-standard logistics services, and which meet all the criteria to become InoBat Auto’s number one, in providing effective logistics solutions. My role, as the project manager, is to synchronise everything in a way that will achieve a functional logistics concept — one that will support the manufacturing chain, but also the supply chain as a whole. However, I maintain that our logistics must also be green. The effort to reduce CO2 consumption is not just an empty promise, it’s a fact that we’re already utilising in the planning of our supply strategy. What do I think is key to a successful concept? It’s the localisation of suppliers, consolidation of materials, manufacturing planning, and good communication with our suppliers regarding material capacities.
THE AIM IS CLEAR. HOW TO ACHIEVE IT?
The road to success is paved with good IT solutions — and so InoBat Auto aims to synchronise all its processes into one compatible information system. That’s why we’re working on mapping all individual processes, and coordinating them into our ERP system requirements. Because slow and steady wins the race, we don’t want to rush this process, and we’re focusing on the smallest details. The building of a functional interconnection system will also have several phases. Again, this would not be possible without our talented people. InoBat’s team has much valuable experience from previous projects, which we are fully utilising in our company, and successfully implementing a brand new concept in the Voderady manufactory. Some behind the scenes information? Currently, we’re selecting the suppliers that will become a part of our information system’s tender.
HOW WILL THE FUTURE OF INTERNAL LOGISTICS IN ELECTRIC VEHICLE BATTERY MANUFACTURING LOOK LIKE?
In short, I’d say it will be lean, flexible, and innovative. If we go beyond these key attributes, the internal logistics in Voderady’s R&D centre will look like this:
- There’ll be great emphasis placed on storage and quality control of supplied materials.
- Due to the demanding manufacturing process, we will divide the warehouses into several closed spaces, based on temperature and humidity parameters, which will ensure maximum quality of the supplied material at each stage of the manufacturing process.
- We’ll automatise the line materials supply through AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles), which will move the material and then handle it directly at the point of its usage. This process will require a virtual reality simulation, so that we can identify possible bottlenecks, transport options, and time of order fulfillment, even before the actual realisation of the project.
- In battery manufacturing, it is important to keep a close watch on the material used throughout the whole manufacturing cycle. That’s why we’ll pay attention to the conceptual arrangement of material flow monitoring. We’ll use WMS (Warehouse Management System), but we’ll also connect the ERP to MES (Manufacturing Execution System), and to PLC channels within individual assembly lines. These steps will ensure 100% system control over the smallest of operations.
- Our manufacturing process requires us to adhere to strict temperature parameters (22±2 °C), which will also require strict temperature restrictions and procedures during the transport of raw materials. For example, the battery aging processes will be performed at a stable temperature of up to 40-50°C, which will be maintained within the whole room. Besides temperature, the humidity of the environment can have a big effect on the quality of the manufacturing process. Thus, some parts of it will be performed in very dry rooms (with a dew point as low as -70°C).
- Because it’s extremely important to know the customer expectations, we’ll need to customise the distribution concept as well. The distribution process of finished batteries will take into account not just our manufacturing requirements, but also the frequency of deliveries, determined by our customers. A connection with the customer via EDI will help us in the planning of manufacturing, and the consolidation of individual steps.
I’ve now spent quite some time in InoBat Auto, and I can compare its dynamic to a former project — the construction of the Jaguar Land Rover factory in Nitra. The biggest difference I see is in the technologies used and the implementation of processes, which are tailored to InoBat’s very unique manufacturing concept. I care deeply about making sure the project progresses well, and that, at the end of the year, we’ll be able to congratulate ourselves on a job well done. My personal satisfaction helps me stay motivated, and the constant learning, which this job provides, keeps pushing me towards new adventures.
Project Director, InoBat Auto