UK’s Battery Innovation Centre opens its ‘Module and Pack’ assembly line

UKBIC Module Line

The £130 million UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) has moved a step closer to opening with the facility’s Module and Pack suite of specialist battery manufacturing equipment now operational.

The Module and Pack assembly line is the first of UKBIC’s innovative battery manufacturing equipment – sourced and supplied from leading manufacturers across the globe – to have been installed and commissioned at the publicly funded ‘open access’ 18,500 square metre battery development facility in Coventry.

UKBIC’s flexible Module and Pack assembly line enables customers to test and produce low volumes of Cylindrical and Pouch cell battery technology. In addition, it has the capacity to produce 50 modules and 2.5 packs over every 8-hour shift.

The line has manual and automatic workstations; and has cylindrical cell ‘pick and place’ capability, for cell voltage testing and impedance, as well as the ability to place cells into a module in either combination of cell orientation.

The facility features a state-of-the-art laser precision specialist welder for welding cells to busbars at industry relevant speeds and accuracy. In addition, the line has pioneering battery leak functionality, which allows leaks to be more easily discovered prior to full scale up, whilst the layout has space reserved to accommodate future customer requirements such as alternative joining technologies and plasma cleaning.

Although UKBIC’s cell making equipment is identical to that of emerging Gigafactories now under construction, UKBIC’s Module and Pack equipment mimics leading cutting-edge processes you would expect to find in high throughput battery assembly plants.

As well as Module and Pack capability, the battery manufacturing equipment being installed at the facility covers the whole production process from electrode manufacturing, cylindrical and pouch cell assembly, to formation aging and testing, as well as a prototyping competence centre for specialist ultra-low volume builds. The facility is a pioneering facility, which provides the missing link between battery technology, which has proved promising at laboratory or prototype scale, and successful mass production.

Ian Whiting, UKBIC’s Commercial Director, said: “This is the first part of the facility which customers can now use.

“Our unique, open-access facility allows organisations in the UK to prove whether their promising technologies can be manufactured at the required volume, speed, performance and cost to be commercially successful. Clients can bring their own employees in to work and be trained with us on the line. Customers can also integrate processes unique to their own products temporarily to our facility. And we can help them build ‘runner lines’ at UKBIC to enable them to prove higher throughput production in early stages whilst customers build their own production lines.”

UKBIC is a key part of the Faraday Battery Challenge, a Government programme to fast track the development of cost-effective, high-performance, durable, safe, low-weight and recyclable batteries.

Tony Harper, Industrial Strategy Challenge Director – Faraday at UK Research and Innovation: “This is a major step forward for the UK battery industry that will benefit companies of all sizes. I look forward to seeing the Centre grow and develop over the coming months as this world-class facility brings the full suite of battery manufacturing capabilities on stream.” 

Professor David Greenwood, WMG Director of Industrial Engagement and CEO WMG centre HVM Catapult, said: “Electrification is no longer just an issue for cars – WMG are supporting programmes in aerospace, rail, marine and freight as well as smaller vehicles like motorcycles and e-scooters. This new unique facility will allow companies to produce prototypes and limited volume production runs for these and other markets.” 

Councillor Jim O’Boyle cabinet member for jobs and regeneration at Coventry City Council, said, “This news brings us another step closer to making Coventry the capital of battery manufacturing in the UK. Coventry was the heart of the industrial revolution and now it can be the heat of the green industrial revolution.  

“Proving that we have the skills, technology and people to support this state-of-the-art product that will power the next generation of vehicles which can and must be made on mass here is our city to support the automotive sector. 

“UKBIC is set to thrive here, and the next obvious step is to build a Gigafactory here so we mass produce batteries too.”