£11.3M battery production project energised after H1perchain success
A £11.3 million initiative to enhance the UK's battery pack manufacturing and supply chain capabilities has been acclaimed for its success.
The H1perChain project, funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC), has developed an automated pilot line for module/pack assembly, cell joining, and in-line testing, resulting in significant improvements in the cost and scalability of high-performance batteries.
Led by Hyperbat and with key consortium partners including Unipart Manufacturing, WAE, Coventry University, and Direc-Tec, the project has developed a laser welding joining process for cylindrical cell formats, facilitated hundreds of skills development opportunities, and created a digital platform to connect the battery value chain.
The state-of-the-art production facility in Coventry has generated more than 50 skilled jobs, with an additional 25 anticipated as the facility begins its first commercial agreement to supply battery packs to a global client.
Jon Bell, Project Lead at Hyperbat, commented: “We came into H1perchain with the overriding aim of developing a process and emerging supply chain capability for manufacturing high-performance batteries in the UK. The brief was to find a way of reducing costs whilst increasing performance and meeting lead times, something we believe we are well on the way to achieving with the pilot line successfully assembling packs and a ‘digital twin’ in play to scale up production into the tens of thousands.”
He added: “Importantly, we have won our first commercial project, which has started to go into production. There are also several other opportunities in the pipeline that we are exploring. If the UK is going to compete in the electrification race, it is critical that we have a domestic battery making capability and a supportive supply chain in place.”
The project's conclusion event in Coventry this week welcomed over 50 guests from industry and academia, who toured the physical pilot line and experienced a digital twin of a high-volume production facility.
Experts from H1perchain also presented a novel industry 4.0 digitalisation platform that underpins the development of a UK supply chain capable of producing over £70 million of module and battery pack components and sub-systems annually.
Jon further remarked: “The Supplier Portal is one of the most exciting parts of H1perchain and gives us an IOT platform that the wider supply chain can now use to engage with Hyperbat on future activities. By creating a ‘single source of truth’ of key manufacturing process data, bills of material, and quality accreditation requirements, we are making it easy for companies to get involved.”
He continued: “We’ve onboarded 36 UK suppliers to the system so far, but the next target is to increase this to 200 by the end of 2024. This will include firms making busbars, aluminium castings, injection moulding specialists, and those supplying consumables, among other engineering disciplines we are looking to talk to.”
Sunil Maher, Senior Project Lead at Advanced Propulsion Centre, added: “The H1perchain project has achieved significant and positive outcomes for the UK, with the consortium partners establishing battery module and pack manufacturing capability that is scalable for current and future demand. The development and understanding of laser welding technologies and processes has delivered efficient module and battery pack build times to meet future volume and customer demands.”
He concluded: “It is brilliant to see how Hyperbat have taken the learnings from this collaborative R&D project by achieving commercial success with a UK OEM.”
The full H1perchain consortium included Hyperbat, Unipart Manufacturing, WAE, Coventry University, Direc-Tec, and The Welding Institute.