Comau has been selected by Automotive Cells Company (ACC), a joint venture between Stellantis, TotalEnergies/Saft and Mercedes-Benz, to design and develop a highly integrated battery module production line for its future Gigafactory in Billy-Bercalu Douvrain, in the north of France. With the projected capacity to ultimately ramp up to 40 GWh, ACC is set to become a European leader in enabling cleaner, efficient mobility for all.
Under the terms of the agreement, Comau will supply ACC with the expertise and equipment needed to automate manufacturing of the next-generation electric vehicle batteries. Featuring the inherent flexibility to handle both 8- and 16-cell modules, the Comau-designed lines will allow ACC to produce up to 8 GWh annually by the end of 2024. Furthermore, the comprehensive solution leverages Comau’s extended European network, thus guaranteeing local sourcing of technology, auxiliary equipment and components for the five manufacturing lines, three of which produce both models while two are dedicated 8-cell MEB lines.
One of the unique elements of the project was the requirement to employ a stacking force of 300 decanewtons (daN) to 500 daN to produce the two distinct module formats compared to the industry average of around 100 daN. To meet this challenge, Comau and ACC engineers worked in tandem to tailor the process in order to guarantee the intended product geometry and battery characteristics. This simultaneous engineering approach has also enabled Comau to remove one of the originally-designed lines, improving the process dynamics and helping ACC optimize its CAPEX investments.
The project, which highlights Comau’s continued investments in the electrification sector, also leverages the company’s 45+ years of expertise in automation and digitalization technologies. The company has both provided ACC with the necessary technology and know-how to automate the entire end-to-end production process, which includes prismatic cell preparation and testing, the stacking, welding and final assembly, all the way to the final end-of-line testing. The complete setup, which integrates a mix of proprietary and non-Comau products, features Comau’s innovative stacking process in addition to its welding, wrapping and electrical testing technologies.
As a first step in the multi-phase project, the joint engineering team will deploy and optimize the pilot line at ACC’s plant in Nersac, France, before rolling out the full-scale manufacturing line at the company’s Gigafactory in Billy-Bercalu Douvrain. With an estimated production rate of 53 JPH (jobs per hour), the Comau-designed solution both meets the customer’s near-term manufacturing objectives while delivering the possibility for future expansion as needed.