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HSSMI is continuing its partnership with AMTE Power and exploring opportunities to enhance the UK’s battery cell manufacturing capability. Over the next five months, HSSMI will undertake a feasibility study to explore ways of increasing the productivity of AMTE Power’s existing electrochemical cell manufacturing facility and develop a plan to transition the facility to a volume plant. The project, called Thurso+ and funded through the Automotive Transformation Fund, will also seek to understand how AMTE Power’s facility could best adopt the innovative methodologies, procedures and equipment that are being utilised in state-of-the-art Gigafactories outside of the UK. As such, Thurso+ will support the electrification of the UK automotive supply chain as we transition away from fossil fuelled ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles.
Currently, the UK’s cell manufacturing capability is very low compared to mainland Europe, Asia, and America. If the UK does not increase its capacity to align with the significant rise in EV demand and production that is expected over the next 10-20 years, there is a risk that the UK’s automotive companies might relocate to mainland Europe or Asia, where the majority of cell manufacturing is poised to take place. Trends in Europe are already emerging with automotive OEMs teaming up with cell manufacturers and entering into joint ventures to secure battery cell supply for next generation electric vehicles. Furthermore, there is a clear overall need to increase battery production, as recent studies by the Faraday Institution have identified that by 2040 there will be a demand for 8 Gigafactories (~15 GWh capacity) within the UK. AMTE Power wants to address this challenge and secure the supply chain and necessary infrastructure in the UK by building a Gigafactory within the next five years.
However, while looking to establish the Gigafactory in the near future, AMTE Power first wants to understand how it can increase the capability of its current facility in Thurso. To do so, it has undertaken the Thurso+ project together with HSSMI experts, who will utilise their expertise in high volume manufacturing to help AMTE Power understand how its facility can transition to a volume manufacturing facility by incorporating lean and optimised manufacturing principles. A lean production audit will be carried out which will outline opportunities and changes necessary to improve productivity and transition to higher output volumes in the existing AMTE Power facility. HSSMI will also explore the options of digitising process work instructions at AMTE Power, which will then be translated across to AMTE Power’s future Gigafactory. Looking towards the future, HSSMI will help AMTE Power develop an investment and manufacturing roadmap, which will detail timelines and key investment injection points required to increase their throughput to 60,000 cells per annum.
“HSSMI are excited to be part of such an important project and to continue working with AMTE Power”, says Ross Sloan, HSSMI Battery Technology engineer and Thurso+ project lead. “For many years, HSSMI have been supporting the automotive manufacturing industry and we now have the opportunity to utilise our expertise in manufacturing optimisation and scale-up to support AMTE Power’s ambitions of becoming a high-volume manufacturer. The outcomes of this project will support the establishment a UK-based electrified supply chain which is critical to the sustainability of the UK automotive sector.”