Production volumes of e-vehicles and batteries are rapidly increasing. To ensure product quality and safety in this scenario, manufacturers need to establish automated and continuous quality assurance. For this purpose, the German company VITRONIC has developed a series of visual inspection systems: for weld seam inspection of battery housings, as well as for detection of particle contaminants in battery cells and modules. VITRONIC will present these innovations at the Battery Show North America on Sept. 13-15, 2022.

Manufacturers of e-vehicles and batteries have to raise their quality standards

Despite the impressive progress made in recent years, the e-mobility industry is still in an early stage. Now, as e-vehicles are becoming a mass product and the production volume is to increase to hundreds of millions, the manufacturers face new challenges. These include the area of quality assurance. Quality issues cannot be longer brushed aside as teething problems, and incidents like battery fires could become not just individual cases soon.

With the introduction of automated and continuous quality inspection systems, manufacturers can achieve two objectives: First, they will improve the overall product quality and security, resulting in increased customer satisfaction. Second, they will be able to optimize their production process and to raise the level of automation, reducing the pesky costs of manual work, rejects, and downtimes.

To support manufacturers in these objectives, VITRONIC, a German company specialized in industrial imaging, has developed a portfolio of visual inspections systems for the e-mobility industry. It is focused on two areas: weld seam inspection and particle detection.

Weld seam inspection of battery housing

The battery housing at the underbody of an e-vehicle is a vital component of the vehicle safety concept: It protects the battery against damage in a crash, it prevents ingress of dirt, and it prevents fire possibly spreading from the battery into the passenger space.

The construction of the housing is often made up of more than 150 single parts, many of them welded together. One faulty weld can impair the stability or tightness, thus making the battery housing a safety threat.

With the VITRONIC inspection system, any single weld seam is inspected directly in the production line. Camera sensors with laser triangulation and 3D image processing find the smallest weld defects. Engineers get detailed feedback about the defects, enabling them to rework them and to find and fix the causes of failure in the welding line.

Particle detection in and on battery cells and modules

Another safety issue to e-vehicle batteries is particularly hard to detect: particle contaminants in the inside and on the outside of battery cells. These could among other things be residues from the used materials or abrasion of parts in the transport line. Particles the size of ten to a few hundred micrometers could perforate the separator foils, that isolate the anode from the cathode in the inside of the battery cells, as well as the battery cells against each other in an assembled battery module.

If this happens, current flows through the separator layer, causing a short circuit, heating the battery, impairing or destroying it or even igniting it. As the particles migrate to the separator layers gradually, they cannot be detected by the conventional methods applied in the final inspection of a battery module.

Even if the worst case is not to happen, particle contaminants can impair or prevent the function of components or assemblies or the further manufacturing process. Therefore, manufacturer are well-advised to follow standards for Technical Cleanliness in vehicle production, like the ISO 16232:2018.

The VITRONIC inspection system uses high-resolution camera sensors combined with advanced image processing. Detected particles are measured and classified. The system can be set up for additional purposes as well, e.g., to simultaneously detect position deviations, edge and cutting defects, or surface defects of the electrodes.

Meet VITRONIC at the Battery Show North America

All inspection systems have been developed to work inline; they can be integrated right into production and assembly lines. Thus, they offer efficient and scalable solutions for continuous quality assurance in a highly automated environment. Currently, the systems are running and being tested at several pilot customers. At the Battery Show North America, taking place on Sept. 13-15, 2022, in Detroit, MI, VITRONIC will present their latest innovations for the e-mobility industry.

We welcome any interested party to meet us at booth 1237 to learn more. Schedule an appointment here.

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VITRONIC is a world leader in industrial machine vision. The owner-managed group of companies develops innovative products and customized solutions in the growth industries of automation, healthcare, photovoltaics, logistics automation, body scanning solutions, and traffic technology.

With over 35 years of experience, VITRONIC offers a unique portfolio of systems and software for image and sensor-based quality inspection, identification, traffic monitoring, and toll collection. Customers include renowned companies such as B.Braun, BMW, Daimler, DHL, UPS, Toll Collect, Fresenius, and Sanofi, as well as government agencies and public authorities.

VITRONIC systems play a major role in ensuring the highest levels of quality and efficiency in the production processes of the automobile, photovoltaic, and pharmaceutical industries.

In logistics centers and cargo airports worldwide, VITRONIC's Auto-ID solutions efficiently capture and integrate shipment data and ensure the transparent flow of packages.

In the traffic technology sector, VITRONIC offers high-performance technologies to increase road safety, improve traffic flow and secure tolling revenue.

Since its founding in 1984, VITRONIC has grown continuously, and currently has over 1,000 employees.  It is represented in four continents and in over 80 countries. VITRONIC supports its international customers through its subsidiaries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, as well as through a global network of sales and service partners.

VITRONIC systems are developed and manufactured at the company's headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany. In 2020, the Group’s total revenue was 152,5 million Euros.

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