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The electrification of key areas of our everyday lives that previously relied on fossil fuels is currently advancing in giant strides. Fueled not least by the various crises of recent years, a radical rethink has set in, particularly in mobility and heating. In addition to the effects on the actual generation of energy and the challenges with regard to the power grid, the focus is primarily on the development of suitable storage systems. For example, the demand for battery cells can hardly be satisfied any longer, which, in addition to concerns about further dependencies, has led to the EU now massively pushing the establishment of a domestic battery industry. Reports of newly planned "gigafactories" are now in the headlines with similar frequency to those about supposed breakthroughs in the development of new "superbatteries".

Solutions along the entire battery life cycle

But what does it actually take to establish future-proof battery production? Rittal, Eplan and German Edge Cloud, three companies of the Friedhelm Loh Group headquartered in Haiger, Hesse, want to support the areas of planning, production, operation and recycling of batteries with specially developed solutions. This includes mechanical and plant engineering as well as automation, lloT solutions, IT infrastructures and smart services.

Product planning support

At the beginning, as usual, is product development. Eplan, as a specialist for CAE and CAD services for the optimization of product development processes, supports manufacturers on a broad front with Eplan Harness proD: in electrical planning, automation and mechatronics - not only concerning the actual battery, but also its wiring and production as such. Among other things, the software enables digital twins of the battery to be enriched with the relevant electrotechnical information as early as the engineering process. This not only simplifies the usually very complex design of cable harnesses in e-mobility, this procedure also makes the availability of a mechanical prototype independent. Eplan Harness proD is also open to MCAD systems and can therefore be seamlessly integrated into existing system landscapes.

Digital and automated workflows in plant engineering

However, product development is only the first hurdle to be overcome. Now comes plant engineering and the operation of these plants - and here, too, Eplan and Rittal support their customers with digital solutions as well as with system technology and automation solutions. Digital and automated workflows accompany control and switchgear manufacturers through the entire value chain - from engineering to manufacturing and commissioning to plant operation. The trades involved benefit from the close integration of the proven Eplan engineering software with the control cabinet system technology and automation solutions from Rittal, which together ensure greater efficiency in control and switchgear construction.

ePocket, the digital circuit diagram pocket

Once the smart manufacturing processes have been established, the actual operation of the systems should be no less smart: with ePocket, the digital circuit diagram pocket, Rittal has recently presented how the "life cycle file" of control and switchgear systems can be forwarded to the cloud in an uncomplicated and efficient manner. In the future, scanning a QR code on the control cabinet will be sufficient for immediate access to the system documentation, including a digital twin. In the event of a fault, but also in the case of conversions, plant managers and maintenance personnel will have all the essential data immediately at hand, enabling them to make precise decisions more quickly and reliably.

Full transparency in production

German Edge Cloud has another approach to exploiting the great optimization potential of the digital transformation of existing manufacturing structures. The Oncite Digital Production System serves as a tool here. This collects data in order to subsequently bring it into various contexts and use it profitably. The visualization of all production processes can, for example, help production managers to identify bottlenecks, problems and disruptions at an early stage and to initiate countermeasures quickly. In addition, the system offers far-reaching expansion options, from the traceability (track and trace) of battery components to IIoT-supported production management.

Modular system for the safe operation of stationary energy storage systems

Once the previously manufactured batteries are in stationary use, Rittal again comes into play. The Hessians offer a suitable system solution for every energy storage application. The spectrum of Rittal's modular system ranges from enclosure, cabinet and container solutions to power distribution and climate control technology, software tools and planning and project management services. The new battery storage system from Tesvolt, which is installed in a VX25 enclosure system from Rittal, is an example of how intelligent and sustainable energy storage systems function and can be commissioned safely. The highlight of this solution is a new cooling and ventilation concept developed jointly by Rittal and Tesvolt.