The battery systems manufacturer Akasol commissioned Woll Maschinenbau from Germany to develop and supply highly automated production systems. From mid 2021, the new battery systems of the type AKASystem AKM CYC will be manufactured in Darmstadt.
The total investment volume for the order is in the low double-digit million euro range and includes the option of further production lines at Akasol’s US site in Hazel Park, Michigan USA, as well as the subsequent expansion of the Darmstadt production facility in Germany that Akasol refers to as its own “Gigafactory 1”.
It was only at the beginning of February that Akasol also commissioned the mechanical engineering company Manz from Reutlingen in Germany to build fully automated production lines. While Manz will provide the equipment to produce battery modules, Woll will supply special machines that link ten of these modules to form a battery system. “Continually increasing the degree of automation in serial production is of high importance in order to allow us to meet our customers’ growing demand for production-ready high-energy battery systems,” says Akasol boss Sven Schulz. “With the new equipment, we will be in a position to build up our production capacity in Gigafactory 1 in Darmstadt to as high as 5 GWh”. This puts the company in a good position to deliver the quantities agreed with current customers within the next few years.
Akasol’s third battery system generation, the AKASystem AKM CYC, is to be produced on the new, 100-metre long production line in Darmstadt from mid-2021. According to the Darmstadt-based company, the battery solutions that weigh around 500 kilograms and store 100 kWh could be produced at a rate of up to 70 units every day. The production line should be flexible enough to be able to build “customer-specific products of the same battery system type”. According to Akasol, a further acceleration of the production is quite possible: with further investments in automation solutions, the cycle time can be reduced to up to 10 minutes per battery system, Schulz says. “As a result, we have the potential to raise output to as high as 126 systems per day, for a storage capacity of 12.5 MWh per day”.
According to the company, Akasol’s ‘Gigafactory 1’ also has sufficient space to install a second line of the same type there. As a result, the production capacity at the Darmstadt site could be expanded by up to 5 GWh per year in the future. Schulz says, “With Gigafactory 1 in Darmstadt, Akasol will have by far the largest commercial vehicle battery system production capacity in Europe”.
The Darmstadt plant also forms the basis for the further expansion of capacity in North America, where Akasol plans to start operating the “Gigafactory 2” with almost identical production equipment from early 2022. At the Langen site in Germany – just north of the company’s headquarters – Akasol had already increased production capacity to up to 800 MWh in March by commissioning a second production line. With the construction of the plant in Darmstadt, the manufacturer is further increasing capacity in view of “follow-up orders from long-standing series customers”. In September 2019, Akasol received a follow-up order from an existing commercial vehicle customer, among others, which is expected to be “in the high three-digit million euro range”. This is likely to be Volvo.