How do EV battery plants benefit from end-to-end traceability?

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EVBPs must focus on end-to-end supply chain traceability

To meet the surge in electric vehicle (EV) battery demand, electric vehicle battery plants (EVBPs) are laser-focused on quickly building new factories that can increase EV battery production. EVBPs are the manufacturing facilities where batteries are designed, manufactured, and assembled, and they cost billions of dollars to build.

In the U.S. alone, battery plant manufacturing capacity is predicted to increase 428% by 2026. While construction and production will remain top priorities, EVBPs must also improve traceability to prevent and minimize future challenges, such as battery recalls, operational problems, and regulatory issues.

What is traceability?

EVBP supply chain traceability refers to the ability to track and trace every aspect of the manufacturing and distribution process – from the origin of the raw materials used in EV batteries, such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel, to the complete battery history. This “mine to wheel” road map connects all the critical inputs: raw materials, production, machine, product quality, and environment with final cell and battery performance.

Traceability depends upon data, which is collected throughout the battery’s entire lifespan – both in manufacturing and in the field. It is analyzed into information that empowers the end user. For example, it allows EVBPs to understand factors that affect performance deviations and gives them the ability to control those factors.

Other industries are already benefiting from traceability

Traceability is not a new concept. Other industries, such as food and beverage, have been following “farm to fork” food traceability rules for several years. One of the biggest drivers is to protect public health. Food-born illnesses or contaminations can be deadly. Data-driven traceability ensures that suppliers can quickly identify the source of an outbreak, such as the specific farm where a piece of produce was grown or the factory where the product was processed, and address it.

Traceability accelerates EV battery recalls, increases profitability, and enhances production

Let’s take a closer look at how EVBPs can collect and analyze traceability data to resolve some of their ­­biggest challenges:

  • EV battery recalls are a serious issue for suppliers and can cost billions to remedy. For example, a recall of potentially defective battery modules in Chevrolet Bolt EVs cost around $1.8 billion. To achieve a quick and concise contain and recall, it is important that EVBPs already have all the data at their fingertips to be able to identify and isolate the right production lot.  
  • : Traceability simplifies finding the root cause of a problem.Current traceability products on the market only focus on lot genealogy, so EVBPs know the lot number of materials but not more advanced information such as what machine the part was made on. Lot genealogy leaves out process and quality data. That’s because these data are usually stored in different systems, making it difficult and time consuming to reach to the real root cause of a problem. This can lead to production stoppage.
  • EVBPs can reduce scrap when they know what variation caused the issue.60% of $$/KwH KPI value comes from materials. Yield loss from mixing operation to battery pack operation increases this number to 80%. This eliminates profits. Material loss in the entire process can result from defects and process scrap. Lack of production, machine and product data connectivity is a barrier to reducing defects and in process scrap.
  • : Traceability helps EVBPs adopt a full life-cycle approach for reducing their carbon footprint because the detailed data provides full visibility into supply chains.
  • Rules and regulations, such as upcoming EU Battery regulations, will require automakers to provide a digital battery passport with information specific to the individual battery and its use.
  • Traceability ensuresEVBPs meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, such as those related to raw materials extraction.
  • EVBPs benefit from better traceability because current traceability solutions do not capture traceability to an electrode level. This creates a knowledge gap related to effect of defects, effect of raw material quality and optimization of electrodes.

Traceability success depends on technology that connects and analyzes EVBPs’ manufacturing data

EcoStruxure Traceability Advisor gives EVBPs in-plant traceability solutions by capturing, analyzing, and connecting data from different sources and stakeholders. Learn more about how to optimize EVBPs’ performance.

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