Northvolt secures US$14bn battery cell order from Volkswagen
Selected as a strategic lead supplier for premium battery cells in Europe, Northvolt will further expand its Gigafactory in Sweden to support a combined order made by Volkswagen valued over US$14bn in the next 10 years.
“Volkswagen is a key investor, customer and partner on the journey ahead and we will continue to work hard with the goal to provide them with the greenest battery on the planet as they rapidly expand their fleet of electric vehicles,” commented Peter Carlsson, Co-Founder and CEO, Northvolt.
Next steps for Northvolt and Volkswagen
The next steps planned for the collaborative partnership follows their mutual analysis on how to leverage the strengths and ambitions of the two over the next several years.
It is said that by consolidating the cell production to the Northvolt Ett Gigafactory, the partners will “achieve further economies of scale,” securing the best possible cost, while enabling the lowest environmental footprint in the world for cell production.
With Volkswagen Group having plans to scale up its own battery manufacturing in Europe, Northvolt has stated that it will sell its sha re in the joint venture Northvolt Zwei in Salzgitter to Volkswagen, who at the same time will increase its ownership in Northvolt.
“Volkswagen will continue to deepen the collaboration and partnership with Northvolt. They are one of our key battery suppliers as we make the transition to electric mobility – and there is potential to expand this partnership even further,” added Thomas Schmall, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group Components.
To date Northvolt has secured US$27bn in contracts for key customers.
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.