Scania Chassis Assembly ready for boom of electric trucks
26 OCTOBER 2023
The year 2023 will go down in Scania's history as the year that electrification truly happened. A new battery cell co-developed with Northvolt that will last the truck’s lifetime, tests of Megawatt Charging System with ABB, and the Battery Assembly was set up adjacent to the Chassis Assembly. The latter had its greatest redesign since it was built in the 1960s, both the actual building and the people working there.
The Chassis Assembly plant in Södertälje, Sweden started producing electrical trucks in 2021. As the demand for electric trucks continues to increase, the factory needed to be adapted to handle the weight and technology of future electric trucks. “And not only the building,” says Mostafa Toweny, Project Manager E-mobility, “but the people working there as well.”
A major re-design of Chassis Assembly
“We are in the middle of a historic and exciting industrial transition,” says Mathias Wijkström, Head of Chassis Assembly, who saw “his” factory closed for 18 weeks from late spring. What happened during the summer months was:
* The construction of a new building, fitted with equipment to handle the megastructure for batteries
* The installation of a new line system
* A new layout and new tools for all assembly and logistics areas.
* The rebuilding of all existing logistics platforms and the addition of a brand-new one
“The batteries add around 5 tonnes of weight, and the weight will increase even further. Our current floor and equipment were not built to handle this so we needed to reinforce the floor and change the line system,” Wijkström continues. Now, the line can handle both trucks with combustion engines, and different generations of electric trucks. To assemble them all in one place is of course also a challenge. “It is extremely tough, with 40 per cent more parts for us to handle, but the staff are prepared to take this factory to the next level.”
Staff is well-trained
The staff in Production, are well aware of their challenging mission. The voices have been mostly positive, with employees highlighting the advantage it is to learn new things both from a professional and personal point of view. During the stop, the employees made sure to make the most of their time. “We had an extensive training programme,” says Toweny. The training for the staff was called “Kompetensladdningen” or “Competence Charging”, and involved 200 white collars, and 700 production personnel, whereof 400 work at the line, and the other 300 in logistics. Some160 co-workers moved to other functions of the company to reinforce those departments and gain new knowledg. This training was divided into three segments, each covering essential learnings in what is to come, or, a reminder of values and knowledge that remain.
* First, it was about learning about the product: how to assemble it and understand the potential risks connected to electric vehicles.
* Secondly, to reach a level of psychological safety to work with change, and also to develop as a team.
* Thirdly, raise the knowledge about our Production System, or our Scania house. This is about enhancing our strengths and being prepared for future challenges.
“It should feel safe and exciting to work with new products, and that we all make a difference in this transition. It has been easy. Everyone has put their hearts into this,” Toweny says. The staff also got to check out other parts of Scania, and take part in things they normally don’t do in their everyday work life. Such as driving trucks at Scania’s DemoCentre, to gain more knowledge about the products.
Vital for scaling-up
This transition and the ability to scale up the production of electric trucks is a vital step for Scania in driving the shift toward sustainable transport. The process knowledge of producing trucks that Scania has will ensure that tomorrow’s truck generations meet quality targets. “That we can produce electric trucks mixed with traditional combustion engines in our factory is unique, making us more flexible and faster in adapting production to customer needs. The staff, who are our most important resource in this transition, are now thoroughly trained in the new technology. We are prepared for when the boom in electric vehicles comes. As far as I can see, as we develop together, nothing can stop us,” Wijkström concludes.
Driving customer profitability through sustainable solutions and responsible business are complementary long-term perspectives for being a profitable company.