News

Big things in the smallest of spaces: Battery module assembly

Only recently, the German government decided that by 2030, up to ten million electric vehicles should be registered in Germany. In the wake of this, the topic of electromobility is becoming even more of a focus for German automobile manufacturers.

The size and nature of the battery module assembly in particular make the new technology much more complex than bodyshell assembly lines. We asked our control technology experts VESCON Automation for more details.

The colleagues at SCIO's Eching site in Germany are managing a major automation project for battery module assembly at a German car manufacturer.

What is the exciting thing about electrification compared to bodyshell lines?

Let's take battery module assembly as an example. Until recently, this was still completely in the fledgling stage. No one, not even the OEMs themselves, knew exactly what the challenges were and what the automation requirements were. It was new territory for all of us at the beginning. In cooperation with the customer, we approached every single step in the programming of the production line and customized it for this new technology. Compared to the bodyshell lines, the plants take up much less space, but are much more complex in themselves. Great things take place in the smallest of spaces in every process step.

What are the specific challenges in battery module assembly?

We have very low tolerances in the micro range in battery module assembly. This brings new challenges for the programming of the systems.
In addition, there is the short processing time of just under four minutes - within this time, the cells must all be glued and welded together. Any longer and the purity of the battery cannot be ensured, and it becomes unusable. Therefore, every step of the process must be checked and documented to ensure quality. This includes current and voltage measurement as well as checking the thickness of the paint layer and bonding strength.

Career Excursion:

Working as an automation specialist in the field of electric drive technology. In theory, every automation specialist has the basic requirements and knowledge. In the field of electric drive technology, it is mainly about new technologies that are not yet completely developed like the classic bodyshell sector. If you enjoy a challenge, have the technical understanding and are also creative, this field is guaranteed to suit you. Here you can find our current job postings.

Regarding the topic of rejects. What is the procedure?

Waste is regularly produced during the programming and commissioning of systems. This is not particularly expensive in bodyshell assembly, but it quickly becomes pricey in battery pack assembly. A single battery cell alone has a value in the upper three-digit range. And we are talking about a cell here, of which several are processed in a pack. So, a lot of rejects add up quite quickly to a very high amount, which of course should be avoided. Also, there are hardly any available resources to resupply new cells. A battery that has been bonded together once cannot easily be disassembled again.

What about external conditions during production?

External conditions are crucial for battery assembly. Is the temperature right? How high is the humidity? A cooling chain has been specially integrated into the systems for the raw material, in order to keep transport distances short and to ensure the purity of the materials. Also, suitably powerful extractors must be installed to filter the particles out of the air.

Looking back, where are we today in battery module assembly?

The last few years have been a constant learning process for everyone involved. We have acquired new expertise that will be increasingly in demand in the future. Up to now, there have only been a few people with this expertise, and specialists are always in demand.

Thank you for the interesting talk!

Insights: Battery Module Assembly Line Project

Customer: German car manufacturer
Assignment: Complex battery & high voltage assembly line installation of >10 automatic stations with standard and gantry robots
Specifications:
• Fully automated transport system between cells, transfer stations
• various cleaning and joining technologies for battery cells, aluminum, steel and composite materials
• All technologies applied are being verified, falsified by external institutes to assure the process and product are within the specified tolerances
• Buy-off according to specification with additional stand-by and optimization of all technologies incl. cycle time decrease

Change of management at VESCON Systemtechnik

As of January, 1st, 2021, VESCON Systemtechnik GmbH, based in Gleisdorf, Austria, is under new management. Alois Kien and Sergej Kristal will lead the Austrian VESCON company with immediate effect.

The two previous managing directors, Heimo Reicher and Peter Bürger, handed over a solidly positioned company to their successors at the turn of the year. For almost 20 years, they led VESCON Systemtechnik GmbH in Austria. They built up and expanded the two business areas of special machinery and software development. The new management team will now continue and further expand this.

As a trained engineer, Mr. Kien brings 25 years of experience in the field of automation and special machinery. During these years he held various management positions in a leading automation company in Austria and will in future contribute his experience to the operational business of VESCON Systemtechnik. In addition to his current functions as CFO of the entire group of companies, Sergej Kristal will take over the commercial management of the Austrian company.


We would like to thank Mr. Reicher and Mr. Bürger for their dedicated and successful cooperation and wish them all the best.


We welcome Mr. Kien to the VESCON Group and wish him and Mr. Kristal all the best in their new and extended tasks.

VESCON acquires AQUA and strengthens its business unit Process

The VESCON Group expands its process technology portfolio with the acquisition of AQUA (formerly Bilfinger GreyLogix Aqua GmbH). AQUA specialises in control and process control technology for drinking water and wastewater treatment plants.

The company AQUA (formerly Bilfinger GreyLogix Aqua GmbH) is part of the VESCON Group as of December 15th, 2020. In the future, the company will operate under the brand name VESCON AQUA GmbH (AQUA). AQUA is now a subsidiary of VESCON Process and strengthens the business unit with its automation and programming services for drinking water and wastewater treatment plant, mainly for customers in the public sector.

Climate change and the associated water scarcity require solutions: In this context, automation and process technology know-how for drinking water and wastewater treatment plants is becoming increasingly important. Acting sustainably in the long term, reducing energy consumption and constantly improving water quality are strategically important in our globalised world. "The drinking water and wastewater sector is one of the most important components of the German infrastructure. With the acquisition of AQUA, we are expanding our process technology know-how in future-oriented and sustainable environmental applications,” says Stefan Ruthmann, Managing Director of VESCON Process.

AQUA, headquartered in Flensburg, was founded in 1998 by Olaf Kremsier and had been part of Bilfinger SE as a subsidiary of Bilfinger GreyLogix GmbH since 2013. AQUA acts as a system integrator with a focus on project management and specialized automation and programming services. Across its seven locations, AQUA ensures highest service levels and customer proximity.

More about our Process portfolio.

VESCON is a member of the SCIO Automation Group. Please find SCIO’s press release about the acquisition here.

Wilster-West transformer station - VESCON Energy successfully completes major project of TenneT TSO GmbH

A transformer station that was no longer sufficient for the rapidly increasing feed-in of renewable energies and therefore had to be replaced. In addition to that, it is located at one of the most important energy junctions for the north-south connection.

Our VESCON Energy team was involved in this major project for the customer TenneT TSO GmbH at the transformer station Wilster-West in North-Germany. It took four years until the old plant was completely disconnected from the grid and the new extra-high voltage switchgear could be put on stream.

The million-euro project is considered the core of the German energy transformation center:

Watch the video of TenneT in the column on the lef. Source: TenneT, shortened version

The existing 380 kV switchgear at the transformer station Wilster-West had reached its capacity limit. Moreover, the important energy hub should be able to receive and distribute the future transmission capacity of NordLink, SuedLink, the West Coastline, the central axis and the offshore connections in the North Sea. TenneT TSO GmbH therefore decided to renew the switchgear and brought VESCON Energy into the project. The two companies have already been working together for 17 years.

The colleagues of VESCON Energy are specialists in the high and maximum voltage environment. They conducted the complete electrical assembly for this major project. VESCON Energy initially planned the primary technology and provisional arrangements for the primary technical construction of the high and maximum voltage stations. In the secondary technical expansion, it carried out cabling work as well as the installation and connection of all control, protection and general plant components such as auxiliary power and transmission technology. A 380kV switchgear with a triple busbar, designed for up to 8,000A, was installed. The new switchgear covers an area of 18 hectares, which is the same as 25 football pitches. VESCON Energy rebuilt the plant and created the connection to the distribution network of SH-Netz with two large transformers.

"A challenge in the implementation of the project was certainly that the existing plant was already an important north-south junction. The new construction therefore had to take place without any significant interruption of the north-south connections. For that reason, we initially installed several 380kV temporary installations. In doing so, we were able to ensure that operations continued almost without interruption," says Olaf Baumgartel, Head of Business Unit Energy, explaining the complexity of the project.

Over the years, around 100 employees of VESCON Energy and subcontractors coordinated by us have been involved in the renewal. One of these employees is Stefan, who was part of the project as senior fitter. In the video (see column on the left)  he gives an insight into his daily work routine.

At the beginning of October 2020, the new transformer station Wilster-West was commissioned by TenneT. The next order is already in line for VESCON Energy: The 110kV system of the SH-Netz at the Wilster site is also to be expanded.

Technical project data:

  • Switchgear with 31 fields triple 380kV busbar
  • 2x 380kV cross coupling
  • 8x 380kV line fields
  • 2x 380kV cable fields
  • 3x 380kV transformer panels
  • 2x 380/110/30kV transformers
  • 1x 380/20kV transformer
  • 4 fields double 110kV busbar

More about the portfolio of VESCON Energy.

"Stronger Together – for you". This is the new annual motto of the Vitamin V health initiative.

Vitamin V fitness and health trainer Nina Gösele explains: "We want to continue to focus on the team, which is why we are keeping the theme 'Stronger Together' from last year. At the same time, we added 'for you' to express the importance of everyone taking care of themselves".

This year’s motto was developed jointly by the Vitamin V Scouts and our Management at the periodic kick-off workshop. Vitamin V fitness and health trainer Nina Gösele explains: "We want to continue to focus on the team, which is why we are keeping the theme 'Stronger Together' from last year. At the same time, we added 'for you' to express the importance of everyone taking care of themselves".

In 2020 we had originally planned to promote the theme through a variety of classes including TOSO, Aqua Cycling as well as Pilates and various events, such as archery, and participating in the initiative 'Helden. Retten. Leben.' (Heroes.Save.Lives.). Due to Corona, these planned events had to be postponed indefinitely.

At the same time, the current situation leads to the birth of new ideas and solutions - Vitamin V was quickly converted to a digital format. For example, Nina Gösele now offers fitness courses twice a week via video conference and is planning further online seminars. Other members of the SCIO Group, such as the Schiller Group or tmp GmbH, have also joined the digital Vitamin V platform. "With the new digital program, we can easily connect our employees at different locations with each other and create a community of our colleagues", explains Nina Gösele.

An example of this networking success, outside of the digital world, can also be seen in our Step Challenge, which ran in May: a total of 83 employees took part in the program across different SCIO-wide locations.

More information about Vitamin V can be found here.

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Relaunch: VESCON Website with a new look

Jobs, Flyers and other marketing material have been hinting towards the change in VESCON’s corporate design. In the last step, the website has been relaunched and can now be seen with its sleek and modern new design.

Jobs, Flyers and other marketing material have been hinting towards the change in VESCON’s corporate design. In the last step, the website has been relaunched and can now be seen with its sleek and modern new design.

The large header pictures with our colleagues, which are seen consistently throughout all pages, are especially notable. These headers have also been placed on other marketing material in the past few months.

For these headers, about 100 employees were photographed at different VESCON locations. “It was important to us to give VESCON a face instead of presenting only facts and figures,” says Dietmar Haubenhofer, VESCON General Manager.

With the new website we are primarily targeting candidates and future employees and are aiming to provide them with a deeper and more personified insight into VESCON, showing what it’s like to work here. At the same time, our business units and services are presented in great detail. The connection between the technical and the personal side of VESCON is also mirrored in the colour scheme, combining cool technical blue-grey hues with a warm and emotional red tones.

IT Meet-Up Event in Frankenthal

Know-how successfully shipped: About 30 Software Developers from the Rhein-Neckar region were hosted by VESCON last Wednesday. Within the scope of a "Docker Beginners Workshop" the interested participants ventured into the topic of Dockers with five mentors.

Know-how successfully shipped: About 30 Software Developers from the Rhein-Neckar region were hosted by VESCON last Wednesday. Within the scope of a "Docker Beginners Workshop" the interested participants ventured into the topic of Dockers with five mentors.

In addition to a lively discussion about the beginners' impulse lecture by Robert Reiz, the participants also tested the theory themselves. Under the guidance of experienced mentors, the interested participants were able to gain their own first-hand experience in working with Docker. Docker is a software for container virtualization, i.e. applications or services are packed into an isolated environment. Docker is used to synchronize development with the production environment. We would like to particularly thank our two in-house Docker experts Martin and Marcel, who were able to directly answer any technical questions.

Along with the professional exchange, delicious pizza and drinks were served in an open atmosphere, so that at the end of the four-hour event all participants and mentors started their way home having gained new skills and acquaintances.

Many thanks also to Jens Doose, who organized this event using the Meetup.com platform and actively supported us on site. We are looking forward to further events of this kind!

First PDL-Tower Delivered to Customers

Gleisdorf.

This past November, the VESCON Systemtechnik in Gleisdorf finished commissioning on the first 10 Production Data Logging Towers with VESCON-produced hardware at their customer's site. This is yet another milestone for the SO3-HIBERION PDL system, which was developed in collaboration with selected customers.

 

Gleisdorf.

This past November, the VESCON Systemtechnik in Gleisdorf finished commissioning on the first 10 Production Data Logging Towers with VESCON-produced hardware at their customer's site. This is yet another milestone for the SO3-HIBERION PDL system, which was developed in collaboration with selected customers.

Behind SO3-HIBERION you will find a production data acquisition system developed by VESCON, constructed in a modular structure and can be implemented in any industry.

The recently commissioned SO3-HIBERION BDL-Towers combine a 24″ touch PC and a large 42″ display screen built into a slim tower, which serve as a centralized information hub in every plant. The production status can be checked at any point in time and in the event of errors, information is immediately displayed on the screens. On the touch PC, all order details including recipes and material details can be managed and Dashboards can be accessed.

The collaboration between VESCON and the client started 5 years ago with the integration of SO3-HIBERION at four plants and has since been continuously further developed. The current expansion with their own PDL-Tower and the integration of 10 additional plants were planned in 2018 and called into life this year.

"With this system, we offer our clients a future-oriented option for production optimization, thanks to absolute transparency and complete traceability," says Martin Feichtgraber, Division Manager Software Development at VESCON Systemtechnik. "All Smart Production features are integrated here, and the system can be adjusted individually to our customers’ specific needs".

Further companies have already expressed interest in the new tower and first orders have since been given to VESCON Systemtechnik.

For more information on Digitalization and Production Data Logging (PDL) please watch this Austrian TV Report: https://www.atv.at/road-to-digital-austria/folge-17/d2667042/ (Due to Data Protection Law, this report is only available in Austria.)

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„Stronger Together“ – New Vitamin V Motto for 2019

The VESCON health initiative Vitamin V is starting the new year with the motto “Stronger Together”. The new motto was presented at the end of May in the Vitamin V room at our Frankenthal office. The Vitamin V steering committee had previously developed the theme and the related activities with the input from the Vitamin V scouts.

The VESCON health initiative Vitamin V is starting the new year with the motto “Stronger Together”. The new motto was presented at the end of May in the Vitamin V room at our Frankenthal office. The Vitamin V steering committee had previously developed the theme and the related activities with the input from the Vitamin V scouts.

With “Stronger Together” the focus lies on solidarity and teamwork. The sum of individuals is decisive for the company’s success. “With this new theme we would like to strengthen the teams from within and promote group activities,” says Nina Gösele, Vitamin V Fitness Coach.

The planned activities include, among others, team events like SCRUM-Cooking, a blind walk, the participation in the BASF initiative Helden.Retten.Leben (Heroes.Save.Lives), Stand-Up Paddling and a team step challenge.

 In addition, the Vitamin V activities will be reinforced with a variety of courses and online training videos. Relaxation and muscle-building exercises can therefore be done easily from home or on the road. The offered course plan targets especially those VESCON employees who spend a large portion of their time working on construction sites or in factories, and therefore are not able to join the courses offered at our offices.

More information on Vitamin V can be found here

Official Launch: VESCON, Schiller and Quadriga Capital announce closing.

Today the VESCON Group and the Schiller Group have officially closed on the merger into a unified holding Company led by the new majority shareholder Quadriga Capital. The antitrust authorities have approved the merger, which has been entered in the commercial register.

From now on it is official: The VESCON Group (Headquartered in Frankenthal) and the Schiller Group (Headquartered in Osterhofen) are moving towards a promising future with Quadriga Capital Consulting (Headquartered in Frankfurt). The antitrust authorities have agreed to bundle both Corporations into a joint holding under the leadership of the majority Shareholder Quadriga Capital. The holdings appointed management team includes Michael Goepfarth (CEO) and Peter Bürger (CFO).

With the entry into the commercial register, the integration process has now begun. Both companies, VESCON and Schiller, will remain operationally autonomous. Strategic leadership and cultural governance will take place through joint projects and the through the holding. During the upcoming weeks the first steps will be taken in order to implement the future strategy.

“We are very pleased that we can fully concentrate on the common future of both companies from now on”, says VESCON Manager Peter Bürger. “In the upcoming weeks and months, we will already be making the first joint decisions to strengthen future development.”

The closing is also the official starting shot towards a promising future for Michael Goepfarth, who joined the Management team next to Peter Bürger and Dietmar Haubenhofer von December 1st, 2018:“VESCON and Schiller complement each other optimally. Together with Quadriga Capital, we will now begin to leverage the extensive potential this merger poses across all business areas.”

With Schiller and Quadriga towards a leading Platform.

As of December 1st, 2018, VESCON and Schiller have announced the bundling of competencies and skills in a  joint holding company, with Quadriga Capital as the majority shareholder. Schiller Automatisierungstechnik GmbH and Schiller Engineering & Maschinenbau GmbH, with more than 200 Employees, are successful in the fields of Automation, Intralogistics and Clean Rooms. Spanning over 5 locations, including a site in Shenyang, China, the company develops systems, machines and solutions that aim to set new standards. One of the most important innovations is the autonomous tugger train, which has great potential as a breakthrough in logistical solutions of the future.

“With Schiller and Quadriga by our sides, we will build a leading platform of medium-sized companies for Industrial Automation Solutions and for other Plant Construction and Engineering Services”, summarizes Dietmar Haubenhofer, VESCON’s CEO. “We are confident that we will be able to announce further milestones throughout this year.”

Profile: The new Group.

With the unification of Schiller Automatisierungstechnik, Schiller Engineering & Maschinenbau and the VESCON Group, the new conglomerate now has more than 700 employees at 16 locations in four European countries and in the People’s Republic of China. Among its customers, who we support in the fields of Automation, Intralogistics, Process, Special Machinery, Energy and Software, are medium-sized companies as well as international corporations. One important focal point is on the area of Automation for automotive customers, which not only include automotive manufacturers but also their suppliers. The turnover of the entire conglomerate is estimated to amount more than 100 million Euros.

Cooperation with perspective: VESCON and Schiller move towards a joint future.

Exciting News from Frankenthal: As of December 1st, 2018, VESCON and Schiller have joint their competencies in a holding company. At the same time, the investment company Quadriga Capital has come on board as the majority shareholder.

Exciting News from Frankenthal: As of December 1st, 2018, VESCON and Schiller have joint their competencies in a holding company. At the same time, the investment company Quadriga Capital has come on board as the majority shareholder. 

For VESCON this merger is a decisive step, which established the basis for its continuous growth. The merger also has a significant strategic importance for Schiller. “VESCON and Schiller complement each other perfectly,” says VESCON CFO Peter Bürger. “Both companies are in a similar growth spurt and will benefit from this merger in numerous ways, while the range of the service portfolios is mainly complimentary. This results in some overlap but also leads to many additions and expansions, which in the future can and will provide even greater resources and services for our customers.”

With more than 200 employees, the Schiller Automatisierungstechnik GmbH and the Schiller Engineering & Maschinenbau GmbH, both headquartered in Osterhofen, are successfully active in the fields of Automation, Intralogistics and Clean Room technology. At five locations, including a site in Shenyang, China, the company develops standard-setting systems, machines and integrated solutions. One of the most important innovations that Schiller has developed is the Autonomous Tugger Train, which has great potential as an intralogistical solution of the future. “Together with VESCON we are growing to a size which gives us entrepreneurial security for future development of our products and innovation. At the same time we can expect synergy effects from which both companies will benefit”, the founder and Managing Director of Schiller, Ewald Schiller, summarizes the advantages of the merger.

In order to formally justify the joint venture, VESCON and Schiller have established a holding company and at the same time opened themselves up to the Quadriga Capital GmbH, headquartered in Frankfurt, as majority shareholder. Quadriga Capital not only strengthens the financial side but also brings extensive know-how from the Automation Industry to the table: “We are pleased that we could gain a strong partner with Quadriga Capital, who would like to promote the successful development of our companies, while representing the entrepreneurial values that we endorse. Quadriga will endorse us in expanding our growth strategy sustainably,” says VESCON Managing Director Dietmar Haubenhofer.

In addition to these steps, the management itself has also been strengthened. Since December 1st, 2018, Michael Goepfarth, together with the previous Managing Directors Peter Bürger and Dietmas Haubenhofer, leads the newly formed conglomerate. Michael Goepfarth has many years of experience as CEO and Managing Director at technology-driven industrial companies: “I am very much looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of me, and I have great respect for what has been achieved so far. I am convinced that we will continue to expand our position within the market, we have a clear vision: With Schiller and Quadriga Capital we want to build a leading medium-sized platform for Industrial Automation and other Engineering services together.”

With this newly established course, VESCON has set itself up for a promising future. During the upcoming year, Peter Bürger’s long-awaited switch into the advisory board of the holding company will be completed: “I will continue to be available to the company on the advisory board and will help advance our joint vision.”

The aforementioned transactions are still subject to approval by the responsible antitrust authorities.

Profile: The new Group.

With the unification of Schiller Automatisierungstechnik, Schiller Engineering & Maschinenbau and the VESCON Group, the new conglomerate now has more than 700 employees at 16 locations in four European countries and in the People’s Republic of China. Among its customers, who we support in the fields of Automation, Intralogistics, Process, Special Machinery, Energy and Software, are medium-sized companies as well as international corporations. One important focal point is on the area of Automation for automotive customers, which not only include automotive manufacturers but also their suppliers. The turnover of the entire conglomerate is estimated to amount more than 100 million Euros.