Scania’s battery lab is up and running
20 JUNE 2022
With a rapid introduction of electric vehicles over the coming years, we need to step up the pace. With a battery factory close to our assembly line almost in place, and a test track optimised for electric and autonomous vehicles on its way, a battery lab at our Research & Development facility was on the wish list. And now it is a reality.
The new 1,000-square metre battery lab is a milestone on our electrification journey. Alongside other initiatives, Scania is well prepared for the future. “It was truly demanding to try and specify the needs we have today when the construction began a few years back. Some things weren’t even in people’s minds back then. But we see a need to intensify battery testing and tailored deployment. That is why we invest EUR 15,5 million in this new battery laboratory,” says Håkan Örnhed, Head of Test Cell Operation Battery/E-components.. Scania has an ambitious roadmap ahead, launching new and updated electric products annually.
Cells, modules and packs
Project Manager Lisa Forsell has followed the extensive testing and verification of equipment and instruments up close, and as the laboratory is now fully operational, her job is done. The facility consists of three 250-square metre test halls for battery cells, modules and packs, and each area is its own fire compartment for safety. Adjacent to these halls, we are able to prepare test samples to improve work environment, safety and testing uptime. “The purpose of the lab is to test battery cells, as well as modules, and packs. We look at our customers’ needs, and apply the modular mindset that runs through all of our operations to make the most cost efficient solution,” she says.
The increase in capacity compared to the “old” laboratory is huge. And it is called for, as before, a battery could perform 1kWh, and soon we will be able to offer vehicles with batteries capable of 1,000kWh. That is real development. “Currently, we have 20 test rigs, and their individual ability is massive,” says Örnhed.
The new battery laboratory complements a smaller facility with a climatic chamber for battery pack testing, that is extremely flexible because it is basically “outdoors.”. With this lab, Scania can test the performance of battery packs on operational electric trucks and buses without removing batteries. Vehicles are parked close to the lab and connected to testing equipment. “In the near future we will also have one of the Swedish Electric Transport Laboratories (SEEL) nearby in Nykvarn, something that further enhances our testing capacity, and also involves academia.”
The test equipment is delivered by Keysight, a leading test and measurement equipment provider for e-mobility among other things. Keysight has delivered a holistic solution with products for testing batteries at cell level, but also at module and pack level, including the software to control the test stands as well as program and monitor battery tests. "Not only does our collaboration with Scania increase our visibility in the e-mobility world. We also gain insight from a world-leading transportation manufacturer that's discovering new edges of e-mobility technology," says Thomas Goetzl, Keysight’s Vice President of Automotive and Energy Solutions.
“The need for great skills and knowledge in battery usage and lifecycle optimisation is more important than ever. Here in the lab, we have the prerequisites to perform our very best in this area,” Örnhed continues. The competence needed varies. “Both engineers and technicians are valuable for us.”
Safety is one of Scania’s core values, and when it comes to batteries, the risks are literary invisible. A battery is always energized, and a wrongdoing can be fatal. So we work hard with learning how to handle the batteries correct. That means we can also hand over the product, with confidence, once its finished, to customers. Our workshops also have the ability to work with these components in a safe way.
What happens in the lab
The lab can carry out tests on 170 objects simultaneously. The thing with testing batteries is that it takes time. “A lifespan test takes two years. It is the equivalent to seven years on the road. We also have this enormous chamber where we can put a whole power train, if we want to. If we use that instead of real-life winter tests, we save a lot of money.”
The laboratory primarily focuses on battery performance and lifespan evaluation in varying climate conditions from -40°C to 70°C. Our engineers examine and identify the best operational conditions for the battery, considering things such as temperature setpoint, state of charge window and charging power profile for tailored utilisation in optimising battery life and customer needs. “We test, and we test, and then we do some more testing. Why? Because it is the battery cell with the lowest capacity that decides the output. We can’t have 99 percent great ones when that last percent is what matters,” says Örnhed.
What’s in it for us
We take a bold step, and have decided not to compromise on performance, lifespan and more. This is an investment that benefits Scania and Traton’s Research and Development as a whole. Jakob Öman, Head of Battery Cell & Module Testing, believes Scania will have amazing delivery in the 2020s’ as we will set the specification for our own battery cell with our demands and needs considered, design and produce our own battery packs and do 100 percent of all planning and software ourselves. “We have trained for this massive transformation and industrial upscale for some years, now it is time to show it.” And more is to come. A place to prepare, where we add sensors and similar equipment, is on its way. We also try tear-down, where we dismantle the cell into pieces. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we need even more space in a few years. It’s mostly about how fast we can build new facilities.”
What really matters in all this is not just the hardware and systems in the lab, but the co-workers that are there. There is so much knowledge on how to run a facility like this. That knowledge doesn’t come easy. It builds on a lot of experience of battery test know-how and in lab operations. “This lab is a giant development for a growing team that really lives in the future, that try things that might be on the market in a few years’ time, but for us, it is a reality.”