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The Thurso+ project recently concluded, meeting the key project objective of boosting the UK’s battery cell manufacturing capability. The funding body – the Advanced Propulsion Centre – has commended the project for its ability to make an impact in only nine months and under the challenging conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. HSSMI and AMTE Power embarked on Thurso+ to establish a pathway for AMTE Power to upscale its battery cell manufacturing capability in Thurso. However, the lessons learned from the project will help boost the UK’s cell manufacturing capability overall.
As a result of the project, HSSMI created a robust manufacturing and financial model for AMTE Power. This tool was used to explore ways to boost production and predict the associated costs. The model presented a clear trade-off between capex and opex costs for different scenarios, for example the impact that utilising more equipment versus increasing the number of shifts would have on production volumes. Furthermore, thanks to the model, AMTE Power was able to understand its full manufacturing capability, considering all equipment and processes. This is something that was not fully understood before the start of the project. AMTE Power was now able to see the bottleneck processes and the equipment that limited production. One of the main findings of the project was that increased manufacturing capability could be achieved by optimising existing assets and addressing bottlenecks rather than channelling additional capital investment into the facility.
As part of the project, HSSMI aimed to identify opportunities to implement lean manufacturing principles within the AMTE Power facility. In the case of AMTE Power’s facility, HSSMI designed an improved factory layout to boost operator performance and optimised work instructions to reflect those found in high volume battery manufacturing facilities. This helped increase production overall. The exercise was carried out with the view that these principles could be implemented and refined in the Thurso facility and then be translated to AMTE Power’s future Gigafactory.
This project was important for AMTE Power, as it is currently facing increased customer demand due to the transition towards low carbon alternatives such as fully electric and hybrid electric vehicles. This makes scaling up production a key priority for the company. Looking past the project, AMTE Power will be able to use the outcomes and tools developed in the Thurso+ project to support their future manufacturing strategy. The project has allowed AMTE Power to understand the most economically feasible way to increase their production capability whilst the development of their Gigafactory is underway.
The Thurso+ project supported the development of the UK’s battery supply chain and the Gigafactory landscape. It not only had immediate benefits to AMTE Power and HSSMI but the lessons learned will be of value to the wider industry as well.
The Thurso+ project was undertaken thanks to funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre’s (APC) Automotive Transformation Fund.
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