Automated Cell Finishing Lines

PEC offers a turn-key integrated solution for all process steps after the electrolyte filling. In a single automated Cell Finishing Line the cells are routed through Soaking, Formation, Degassing, Roll-Pressing, Ageing, Grading and Sorting using an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS).

Cell Formation Towers

The heart of the Automated Cell Finishing lines are the cell formation towers. The formation towers are used for accurate formation, grading, DCIR and OCV measurements of the cells during the cell finishing process. PEC offers systems for cylindrical, pouch and prismatic cells, ranging from small to large format cell types.

Inline Cell Testing

The PEC inline tester is designed for running a fast qualification of alkaline and primary lithium cells during cell assembly or cell finishing. The inline test station is integrated in the line and works as a stand-alone module. The system is typically used for AA, AAA, C or D type cells and runs at a maximum speed of 1200 cells per minute.

100% Manufacturing Safety

The complete cell finishing process forms the biggest risk factor in Li-ION factories. During this production stage the cells will be activated and will reach their rated capacity after several charge and discharge cycles. Individual performance will be checked against specifications using high C-rate pulses on the cells.

During this process any cell or equipment related imperfection may lead to electrolyte fires, gas explosions and even worse a thermal runaway of a cell. Examples of these events are well known in the industry. Therefore, safety is PEC’s main concern in the design and continuous improvement of the automated cell finishing lines.

The key point of PEC’s safety design is prevention. The lines are equipped with a very long list of safety related techniques and features in order to prevent the thermal runaway from happening.

On top PEC’s unique formation station design offers a completely passive safety enclosure for any electrical process on the cells. In case of a thermal runaway of a cell the formation station protects the other cells and stations from propagation due to the fire and gas explosions.

Integrated MES System

The PEC cell finishing software is part of a complete manufacturing software solution, called MWare, covering all the functionalities required in cell and battery manufacturing plants.

MWare is an in-house developed application that reflects our long history and experience in battery production.

MWare supports the sequence of production steps from receiving raw materials over slurry mixing, coating, to the cell assembly. After the cell assembly, cells need to be formed,

aged and graded before they are assembled into modules and packs. PEC provides turn-key automated systems for these process steps,  automating the complete cell handling from the electrolyte filling to the formed and sorted cells.

Specifically for these automated lines, the PEC formation software, part of the overall MWare solution, gives a complete answer to the following functional domains:

  • Manufacturing and Logistics Execution System
    • Process Control (creating and starting the correct formation and grading programs)
    • Order management and planning (managing the flow through the line)
    • Cell level traceability and quality assurance
    • Validation and rejecting the cells based on the measurement results
    • Management of the material handling systems
  • Operator Control System
    • Monitoring the processes, the equipment and the material handling systems
    • Alarm management and operator notification
    • Check Measurement results
    • Calibration Procedures
    • Reporting System
  • Monitoring order progress and work in progress
    • Analyzing and inspecting the results
    • Statistical analysis and trends (Yield report, Pareto Analysis of error codes, Production Progres reports…)

Turnkey Automated Solution

PEC integrates all process steps after the electrolyte filling in a single automated Cell Finishing Line. This single line includes equipment for Soaking, Roll-Pressing, Formation, Degassing, Ageing, Grading, End of Line Testing and finally Sorting.

The cells that enter the automated Cell Finishing Line are first loaded on a customized pallet, if required equipped with a clamping unit for prismatic cell types. Product and carrier are all uniquely identified with barcodes and RFID tags. This pallet is then transported through the different process steps by an Automated Store and Retrieval System (ASRS crane).

The modular line is configured with different building blocks to supply the required line capacity. A typical line includes the following building blocks:

  • Input and Output units
  • Soaking towers
  • Roll-press stations
  • Formation & Grading towers
  • OCV measurement
  • Room and High Temperature Ageing area
  • Degassing Stations
  • Sorting Stations

Manufacturing Cost Reduction

The target price per kWh for xEV applications is dropping fast in order to reach mass adoption of the electrified car. While many scientists and researchers are looking for the advancements in materials, PEC has achieved spectacular results in reducing the cost of cell finishing in both Capital Expenditures and Operational Costs.

PEC guarantees:

  • Standard all-inclusive automated turn-key cell finishing line
  • Low cost design
  • Maximum investment protection
  • Low maintenance cost
  • 100% flexibility

Cell Improvement

After the electrolyte filling of the cell the SEI layer (solid electrolyte interphase) is formed during the cell finishing process. The SEI is very critical for cell performance and cycle life as the SEI protects the active material in the cell.

Consistency of the SEI is THE determining factor in cell cycle life, the most important characteristic in high cycle life applications (xEV, aerospace, defense, wearables…).

At PEC we have the technology and the experience for achieving this homogeneous SEI in prismatic, pouch and cylindrical type cells.

PEC has worked on mass production projects where a 40% increase of cycle life has been achieved.