Project idea and potential
The manufacturing industry’s transformation towards a sustainable future hinge on a fast and extensive upscaling of battery production. Yet, despite the ongoing planning and building of multiple battery factories in Sweden, industry and academia express a consensus about the severe lack of adequate knowledge about maintenance of battery production. This is remarkable as maintenance is fundamental to the ‘inner circularity’ of production systems – i.e., extending the lifespan of technical equipment, increasing resource efficiency by minimizing disturbances, and reducing scrap and waste through failure-free production. Therefore, the main project idea is to gather the combined strength of industry and academia and take a firm grip on understanding the why’s, how’s, and what’s of maintenance of battery production.
The purpose of the MATTER project is to set the stage for research on maintenance of battery production, solve the emerging maintenance-related challenges in battery factories already from the start, and build the foundation for a sustainable battery production industry in Sweden.
Brief background and state-of-the-art
Battery production brings a range of novel challenges to maintenance operations with a major impact on the ability for reducing environmental impact and securing resilient value chains. However, owing to the novelty of the battery sector, there is a lack of scientific state-of-the-art except for minor analytical modeling studies and applications of traditional maintenance practices. The project partners are building new battery factories and thus enable unique insights into the key industry challenges. So far, industry experts anticipate three emerging challenges:
- Plant novelty
- Equipment diversity
- Process safety
The Step 1 project will investigate and synthesize the industrial and scientific state-of-the-art as a foundation for the Step 2 research and innovation project.
Impact and dissemination
The major effect goal of the MATTER project is to build the foundation for a sustainable battery sector in Sweden by taking a firm grip on understanding the why’s, how’s, and what’s of maintenance of battery production. In Step 1, there is a dire need to understand the unique characteristics of battery production that influence maintenance operations. This, in turn, allows the Step 2 project to develop new decision-support tools for dynamic planning (e.g., Opportunistic Maintenance), methods for machine capability diagnosis of battery equipment, and design of new engineering roles and integration mechanisms. In the long run, this contributes to extending the life-span of production equipment, attracting and retaining competent people to battery factories, and establishing battery production as a source of competitive advantage for Sweden. The Step 1 project results will be packaged as pedagogical materials that are prepared and distributed for education and industry dissemination together with the reference organization Sustainability Circle.
The project includes four work packages (WPs) based on the fundamental premises of Contingency Theory (CT). Two WPs are research-oriented and focus on (1) the uniqueness of maintaining battery factories and (2) key enabling responses (i.e., tools, methods, and best practices to be developed and scaled in Step 2). The two remaining WPs focus on (3) the realization of the Step 2 project application and on (4) industrial and educational dissemination. The CT approach will be used in both Step 1 and Step 2 since it allows for a unique understanding of how maintenance functions can develop novel circularity principles that fit with the emerging battery production sector.