Update from Thurso+: Optimising Existing Equipment to Move Towards a High-Volume Cell Manufacturing Plant
Image: © AMTE Power
Funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre’s Automotive Transformation Fund, project Thurso+, between AMTE Power and HSSMI, is approaching the end of its second quarter. The objective of the project is to generate the pathway for AMTE Power to upscale their manufacturing capability. To date, HSSMI has focussed on carrying out a manufacturing audit of AMTE Power’s electrochemical cell manufacturing facility in Thurso to assess bottlenecks and determine where additional production capability could be unlocked with the existing machines and equipment. AMTE Power trialled new state-of-the-art mixing equipment, aiming to assess the benefits and limitations of the new style of equipment for use with current cell recipes and procedures. The success of the project is compounded by a complementary blend of skills and expertise between both HSSMI and AMTE. The combination of cell manufacturing knowledge and experience provided by AMTE’s staff coupled with HSSMI’s expertise in facility optimisation and high-volume manufacturing, present an ideal consortium to tackle the challenge at hand.
Through a thorough analysis of the current plant, HSSMI’s work has revealed that significant cell volumes could be produced by optimising existing equipment, and by utilising increased shift patterns, without significant capital investment. HSSMI also identified bottleneck areas of the production line that with modest capital investment, could be addressed to achieve additional cell capacity. The team at HSSMI have identified opportunities to implement lean and high-volume practices into the facility, helping to transition the plant into a high-volume facility. HSSMI generated an optimised cell assembly layout, assessed efficient operator manning opportunities, and began an operator movement analysis to quantify non-value-added tasks currently being carried out by AMTE Power production staff.
HSSMI are now focussing on determining the equipment and financial requirements to achieve additional output levels of the facility beyond what can be achieved by existing machines and increased operator shifts. HSSMI are aiming to determine at what annual throughout level do existing machines and equipment become constrained and capital investment is required to continue increasing capacity. Having reviewed the manufacturing journey, this will help in completing an easy to understand financial roadmap, detailing costs and timelines involved.
Furthermore, HSSMI will continue identifying lean and high-volume best practices that will support the transition towards a high-volume plant, with the aim to trial these best practices at the facility in Thurso in the next 6 months.
This project will provide AMTE Power with a clear pathway to increase their manufacturing capability, meet larger customer orders and transition towards a high-volume Gigafactory in the future.
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