Skill and Scale Up: Production Management

Systematic and efficient Management of the Production Process for Battery Cells

Whether in production or the office: strategic planning is necessary for complex operational processes to function smoothly. In battery cell production, too, all company areas contribute to ensuring that the battery is available as a product result at the right time, in the right place, in the best possible quality, and at the agreed cost. With this focus, production management looks at all company and production processes with a methodically focused lens. It optimizes them concerning the factors mentioned above of time, costs, and quality. In the fifteenth and final blog post of our "skill and scale up" information campaign, we take a look at the production management toolbox for battery cell production. Which requirements and methods play a special role in optimization?

© Fraunhofer FFB/ Tyll Farnschläder

There are different ways to manage production, all of which aim to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of production processes, workflows, and resource utilization. Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, and IATF procedures and tools have all demonstrated success over time. For the automotive industry and its suppliers, the VDA guidelines set high standards for project management, quality planning, and product realization. These clear standards and guidelines provide direction for continuously improving the quality and production. Production management separates tasks based on time horizon into strategic (5-10 years), tactical (1-5 years), and operational tasks (<1 year). Since this topic is broad and can be viewed from many perspectives, this blog article discusses two topics: the DMAIC cycle as a general method for optimizing production and processes in projects, and the FMEA method as a risk analysis and optimization tool in battery production.

© Fraunhofer FFB/ Tyll Farnschläder

Process optimization using the DMAIC cycle

Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control - The DMAIC cycle of the Six Sigma methodology is an effective approach for improving production efficiency. It serves as a foundation for continuous process optimization by addressing key questions in five phases. By applying a systematic and targeted approach, errors or problems can be sustainably eliminated.

1.     What is the problem?

In addition to classic brainstorming, interviews, quality function deployment (QFD) or force field analyses can be used to uncover problems in the business or production system as well as product defects.

2.     How can the problem be measured?

Measurability can not only be implemented by defining suitable key figures, but a better understanding of the process, e.g. through macigami and value stream mapping, can also uncover weaknesses. The key here is to collect data that can be evaluated in an adequate and standardized way.

3.       What is the cause of the problem?

In this step, we get to the bottom of the matter: Cause-effect analyses, FMEAs, Ishikawa, and fault tree analyses or the 5 W method (Why) help to find the actual cause so that the problem can be avoided in the long term.

4.       How can the problem be solved?

Once the cause is known, a sustainable solution can be developed and established - Poka Yoke or a 5S workshop are proven methods for this.

5.       How is the solution anchored in the business system?

RACI diagrams and change management can help to anchor the solution in the business system in the long term.

Our employees are trained as Six Sigma Black Belts or Green Belts in the relevant teams and combine their methodological knowledge with their expertise in battery cell production to solve the relevant issues in projects with our project partners.

© Fraunhofer FFB/ Tyll Farnschläder
Value stream mapping is a methodology that originated in lean management and is widely used in production and business process management. It is used to visualize, analyze, and optimize the flow of materials and information in a process or value chain.

Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) as a means of process optimization in production management

Preventing errors and inefficiencies is essential in the product and process life cycle of battery cells. It is crucial to identify and eliminate the causes of planning errors beforehand, as the costs of these errors increase tenfold with each phase of the product life cycle. This is in accordance with the rule of 10 of quality.

FMEA types

In the last blog article, we learned about FMEA - Failure Mode and Effects Analysis - as a quality management method. However, FMEA methods not only help to uncover potential risks and improve product and process design there, but also in other areas. These methods define seven steps that are run through in a development process and are divided into product-related FMEA (system FMEA and design FMEA) or process-related FMEA (P-FMEA), depending on the reference. While the latter examines the production process for possible errors that affect product quality and process reliability, product-related FMEAs focus on system and product design.

The P-FMEA as an effective process analysis in battery cell production

In addition to product-side optimization, P-FMEA (Process Failure Mode and Effect Analysis) plays a key role in battery cell production. It focuses on the production process itself and identifies possible errors that can occur in each individual process step. In the case of battery production, the requirements are particularly high due to the very sensitive (intermediate) products and the extremely complex network of cause-and-effect relationships of a mechanical and chemical nature. For example, particle contamination in various forms can pose a risk to the quality and safety of the cell in both electrode production and assembly. Traceability and measurement options are of crucial importance here in order to quickly identify and eliminate sources of error. The cornerstone for this is the correct safeguarding of all risks using FMEA. For the successful application of the methodology, it is advisable to use existing tools from technical management in each individual phase.

Production Management at Fraunhofer FFB

Efficiently designing production processes is crucial in the dynamic world of battery cell production, where different disciplines converge. Combining methodological expertise and domain-specific specialist knowledge can ensure a smooth process with simultaneous optimization. Our scientists support the ramp-up of new production lines, analyze and optimize existing ones, and further develop methods and processes.


European Learning Lab Battery Cell

Advanced seminar: Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA)

Join our battery production experts for a personalized, in-depth seminar on FMEA basics!

The European Battery Cell Learning Lab is Fraunhofer FFB's training center.


Core competence

Quality in battery cell production

Production and quality management go hand in hand for us. We provide training in technical cleanliness in battery cell production and carry out fault analyses.


European Learning Lab Battery Cell

Advanced seminar: Production cost optimization

Using resources efficiently and thus reducing costs in the long term - that is the aim of this individually bookable seminar. Learn from our OpEx experts what it takes to implement strategic goals operationally without any loss of quality.

The European Battery Cell Learning Lab is Fraunhofer FFB's training center.