Build and Ramp up: Planning of a Gigafactory

How to plan a Gigafactory?

Electrode production, assembly, forming - in the last article of our information campaign "Skill and Scale-up", we looked at the individual manufacturing steps in battery production. One thing can be taken away from this: The manufacture of battery cells places high demands on the production environment. In addition to a high power requirement, technical cleanliness, and extreme dryness, for example, must be ensured to guarantee quality. In order to meet these requirements, requirements-oriented factory planning is necessary, which also considers site conditions. In the sixth part of "Skill and Scale-up", we look at the production site: the battery cell factory. The focus here is particularly on the planning process and construction projects in Europe.

The Battery Cell Innovation System environment report forecasts that global demand for batteries is expected to rise from 185 GWh in 2020 to 2-4 TWh in 2030.[1] This sharp increase is due to two important climate targets for reducing C02 emissions: Firstly, the electrification of transportation and secondly, the storage of renewable energy. In the past, battery cells largely came from Asia. To meet the growing demand in Europe, production capacities here are also being ramped up to the expected 1.5 TWh.[2] But these are only the factories announced so far - more are likely to be added in the coming years. The largest share could be covered by new production facilities in Germany, according to an evaluation by the Fraunhofer ISI from 2022. The focus of activities for the construction of cell factories is on battery cells for electric cars and on supplying European OEMs. Several hundred thousand jobs are expected to be created here in the coming years, and the market for batteries in the e-mobility sector could grow to around 250 billion euros by 2035.


Factory planning according to the VDI 5200 guideline


If you want to set up a battery cell production facility on a greenfield site, you first need to know the complex conditions that logistics, energy requirements, quality, and cost-effectiveness place on production. The availability of (renewable) energy also plays a role in the choice of location. Fraunhofer FFB bases its own and external planning projects on Guideline 5200 of the Association of German Engineers (VDI 5200), a holistic model that uses interdisciplinary methods from architecture, technical building equipment, and fire protection, among others. The guideline proposes a procedure in seven phases:


1. target definition

In the first phase, factory planning tasks and factory objectives are defined together with the company in compliance with the project framework conditions.


2. basic determination

The baseline assessment consists of an analysis of the entire initial situation using data and simulation tools. Here, the feasibility is checked based on reliable data.


3. concept planning

In the third phase, a factory concept is drawn up together with the company that best meets the defined factory objectives. Starting from an ideal layout, real physical conditions such as buildings, land, and technical equipment are developed into a rough layout that takes logistics and material flow concepts into account.


4. detailed planning

In the detailed planning phase, the rough layout is further developed in its subtleties. The detailed layout incorporates work processes, adaptability, and efficient use of space into the concept.


5. preparation for realization

The preparatory phase before the realization of the construction includes the preparation of a cost plan.


6. realization monitoring

Parallel to implementation, realization monitoring is carried out to ensure proper implementation of the concept and adherence to time and cost plans.


7. ramp-up support

Finally, the completed factory is ramped up to the specified performance level. During the so-called "ramp-up", the target achievement is checked.

Where is the potential for innovation in factory planning?

Fraunhofer FFB is currently conducting research in five areas of factory planning: logistics, digital factory, energy management, strategy/corporate development and the optimization of clean and dry rooms. In the field of technology management, we evaluate and search for new technologies and can plan technology chains. Sustainability management researches optimization potential in factory planning, e.g. with the help of life cycle assessments. Digital methods offer the possibility of planning, monitoring and optimization in this process. For example, simulations can be used to better predict the details of production processes, such as material flows and production processes.

Fabrikplanung an der Fraunhofer FFB

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Core competence: Factory Planning

Fraunhofer FFB has extensive know-how in the planning and realization of factory construction projects in the field of battery cell production.

Article in »Nature Energy« / 29.9.2023

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