Why cabinet-free drive technology is a necessity in manufacturing
Faced with the challenge of continuously adjusting production lines, manufacturers are struggling with the amount of space available to adjust. Machine footprint and flexibility are two of the key drivers of change that have the potential to radically alter manufacturing for the better.
A frequent problem recognised in modern manufacturing is the reduction of the assembly production area. The importance of connectivity on the factory floor is increasingly more essential, and servo drives are vital for this process. Because of this, the number of unproductive control cabinets used to store the drives are on the rise. Traditionally, motor and control devices are separate to one another, with cables leading to the cabinet for each motor. As manufacturing sites require more production from the same space, the solution comes in the form of cabinet-free drive technology. Quite simply, electrical components that were originally placed in the cabinet can now be installed directly to the system, and drives can be mounted to innovative locations on the machine itself.
Cabinet-free technology not only eliminates the storage used allowing for significant gain in floor space, but also maintains the advantages of servo drives while reducing wiring by up to 90 per cent. Both the OEM and end user will benefit. Reduced footprint means less planning required as there is no cabinet to position and cable lengths are known, fixed and largely decreased, resulting in an overall reduction in production costs on the same floor space.
Modern manufacturing has to be highly flexible, adjusting to demand and new product introductions. In most cases, planning for future machine additions can often come at a significant cost, both in downtime and production price. Previously, manufacturers would have to install each drive individually into the control cabinet and then connect it to the motors which can be a lengthy task. As well as this, when wiring for safety reasons production would be paused. This is not the case for cabinet-free drive technology, which is completely modular, making it simple to install into existing production lines.
Previously, the dilemma has been how to allow for future machine additions whilst reducing mechanical design. Cabinet-free solutions, such as Rexroth’s IndraDrive Mi enables the OEM to build and commission modules in their plant and manufacture in batches. In terms of improving existing line expansion, the product can be easily added without affecting the mechanisms already installed. Designed for easy integration, the modular approach also allows for the addition of future modules with no electrical changes.
Modern manufacturing requires these two key catalysts for change, and cabinet-free technology can provide space saving design that’s ready for the future. The product benefits both machine manufacturers and end-users, improving past issues. The modular technology caters for manufacturing flexibility and space, enabling cabinet-free drive technology to integrate effortlessly into the future Industry 4.0 environments.
Chris Nevin is Industry Sector Manager at Bosch Rexroth
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Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.