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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
VITRONIC is the world's leading innovation driver for industrial image processing, enabling its customers to master the challenges of tomorrow.
The owner-managed group of companies develops forward-looking solutions in the form of specialized products and software for image-based quality inspection, identification and process optimization, which find application in the growth sectors of automation and traffic engineering.
VITRONIC solutions make an important contribution to helping shape a safe and sustainable world. The existing limits of what is economically feasible are constantly being questioned in order to achieve the highest quality and productivity, for example in the production of automotive and pharmaceutical companies. Worldwide, Auto-ID solutions in logistics centers and at cargo airports, take over the reliable and efficient recording of shipments and thus ensure a transparent flow of goods.
In the transport sector, VITRONIC offers leading technology for increased safety on the roads, for optimizing traffic flow and for recording road usage.
Open and honest dealings with our customers form the foundation for jointly exploiting technological and process potential to the full. Joint success forms the basis of long-term cooperation with companies such as B. Braun, BMW, Daimler, DHL, UPS, Toll Collect, Fresenius and Sanofi as well as with public clients.
Since its foundation in 1984, VITRONIC has been growing continuously for almost 40 years. The current annual turnover (2021) is 184 million EURO and the company is currently represented on five continents in over 80 countries with approximately 1,300 employees.
Development and production of VITRONIC systems are located at the company headquarters in Wiesbaden. VITRONIC subsidiaries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, as well as a worldwide network of sales and service partners, provide local support to international customers.