TwinTRACE: Digitalising battery cell production for sustainable innovation

The impact of the digital revolution is changing the world and the ways in which products are produced, including battery cell production. In the pioneering TwinTRACE project, CustomCells is collaborating with partners from both industry and research to develop the so-called administration shell – a type of digital twin aimed at optimising the production of battery cells.

TwinTRACE, funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK), not only promises to enhance the quality of production but also aims to make a significant contribution to shaping a sustainable future.

At the core of this ambitious project is an intelligent battery factory located in Tübingen, where CustomCells is collaborating with the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) and acp systems AG. Months of dedicated work have been invested in improving both the quality and efficiency of battery cell production. This progress is primarily driven by the implementation of the so-called management shell – a module designed to control one machine at a time.

“As with a digital twin, a real object or process is simulated virtually,” explains Nadina Rolka, the head of the funding project. “Data and information are monitored in real time to achieve optimal results.”

The synergy between artificial and human intelligence

Artificial intelligence plays a crucial role in this context, determining and applying the optimal process parameters across various production steps. Digitalisation, in this case, goes beyond mere data collection; it is about utilising information sensibly. For instance, decisions are made regarding the ideal amount of electrolyte required or the necessary treatment for each cell.

“We are also addressing the fundamental question of which parameters are the most crucial for enhancing quality,” says Nadina Rolka. “While higher-quality data and parameters are generally favorable, they must also be the right ones – the most useful. Additionally, the interfaces between the various components must be meticulously planned and designed.”

Improved traceability

The data stored in the asset administration shell plays a crucial role in simplifying the traceability of all materials and product components used in the battery cell manufacturing process. This capability aids in controlling and further optimising quality. For instance, in the event of a supplier reporting a faulty electrode roll, the material can be traced and replaced more efficiently within the factory.

The nationwide introduction of the battery passport in 2025 underscores the growing importance of traceability and the ecological footprint of a cell. The asset administration shell enables the simulation, analysis, and optimisation of product behavior or process performance without the need to alter the product or the process itself. The time-consuming efforts of the TwinTRACE project are justified not only by the long-term improvement in the quality of battery cells but also by the reduction of waste.

The TwinTRACE project prompts an intriguing consideration of the possibilities that arise with more efficient battery production. Through this initiative, CustomCells and its partners from industry and research are not only contributing to environmental protection but are also actively shaping the future of mobility in an economically and sustainable manner.

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