How can digital twins accelerate EV battery plants’ design and build?

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EV battery demand is predicted to increase nearly 15-fold from 2020 to 2030

The EV market is skyrocketing. There’s a major EV production bottleneck, though — there aren’t enough batteries to meet current demand. The problem will likely be even more challenging in the future because BNEF predicts battery demand will rise 15-fold from 2020 to 2030 in the Economic Transition Scenario.

To meet this growing need, EV battery makers must find a way to build plants faster and optimize production to manufacture more batteries.

EV battery plants can be built faster using digital twin technology to optimize electrical distribution system design

Automotive OEMs have already used process digital twins. For example, they use process digital twins to build virtual replicas of a car. That DT can then be used for a wide range of activities, such as validating the car’s architecture and its mounted parts or simulating potentially dangerous situations like how car brakes or seat belts will perform under a variety of conditions.

The game-changing news is that digital twins can now be used in EV battery plants’ (EVBP) electrical distribution systems across the lifecycle. These digital twins are different than traditional DT technology because they focus specifically on electrical power distribution networks – not processes. They speed construction and design because they can build, simulate, and optimize the electrical power and distribution network on a single platform to take out any guess work.

This is an important feature because DTs can accelerate time to market by making it easier to add additional capacity as needed. In addition, since EVBPs are energy intensive because of the high heat and sterile conditions, digital twins for electrical power distribution networks can be used to ensure the EVBP has sufficient power to maximize uptime.

As an example of how these digital twins can be used, think about single line diagrams (SLD), which are the electrical foundation of any factory’s electrical design. Customarily, manufacturing plants have used pdfs or AutoCAD to create a SLD. However, these methods provide only a partial, static, and/or potentially out-of-date network view.

Using an electrical distribution digital twin, EVBP manufacturers can create a digital, intelligent model of the system’s SLD, including maintenance of the SLD during the lifecycle through continuous update schemes and service predictivity. For example, using ETAP digital twin technology gives EVBPs new capabilities to simulate and model their entire electrical distribution network across the lifecycle for tasks such as arc flash prevention, protection coordination study, cable and busbar sizing, and determining load capacity. The end-to-end platform can then be used during the operation and maintenance stage to predict the system’s behavior. ETAP software can also be used to provides EVBPs’ operators and engineers with an effective learning environment to improve and increase their knowledge of the existing system.

Standardization is another powerful way to speed factory design and build

Data centers are a good example of how standardized architecture is already being used. Around 15 years ago there was a boom in data center demand, so data centers needed to be designed and built quickly.  By using standardized architecture data centers are not just optimally designed and constructed but also support scalability and growth.

Today, EVBPs are under similar pressure to meet battery demand by ramping up factory design and build. A typical EVBP can take around 24 months to be completed from conceptualization to production. Using a standardized architecture brings a big advantage because it allows EVBPs to standardize and replicate the design more quickly so they can start producing batteries faster. For example, by using a standardized architecture, EVBPs can do a quick FAT instead of spending months on factory acceptance testing (FAT) for every different architecture, which can significantly reduce time.

How does this EVBP standardization work? Standardization means the EVBP architecture is already prepared to use when a company needs to build a certain size factory. It defines standard units of yearly production capacity of a defined GWh, and allows replication of those exact same units repeatedly to save time to market. For example, an automaker maker may define a unit of 10GWh of yearly production capacity and in one plant they install 4 identical modules.

EVBPs are most successful when they use standardized electrical equipment that:

  • Meets predefined power requirement for electrical and process equipment
  • Is prefabricated as skid mount or pre-fab solutions
  • Is assembled and tested at the factory
  • Is shipped in one piece, configured to meet specific project requirements, and type-tested according to current, relevant standards to simplify and speed installations and site acceptance tests.

Read our reference guide to get an in-depth look at how EVBPs can drive performance through the design, build, operation, and maintenance phases

Explore our reference guide to discover how EcoStruxure Power with digital twin capabilities can solve your challenges in designing, building and operating EV battery manufacturing plants and optimize sustainability and efficiency.

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