Today, “electromobility” is one of its keywords. We are talking about GROB, a top player who broadened its product range significantly by moving into this area. As a turnkey supplier in the system business, GROB already has an excellent reputation in the market, but with its technology, electromobility is calling for a new way of working and thus for changes in approach. And the company is ready.
Electromobility is gaining importance at an increasingly fast pace and transformations in vehicle drive technology have already begun. The markets have responded to these changes in various ways. GROB, with its inherent strength and experience of making highly productive manufacturing and assembly lines, has already squared up to this new challenge.
After several years in installation and development, this new line of GROB’s business is now well established. Indeed, four years ago, in response to the increasingly progressive pace of technological change with vehicle powertrains, GROB established a Research and Development team that focuses solely on electromobility. In collaboration with the automotive industry, engineering processes and methods for the series production of high-efficiency electric motors and extremely compact battery modules with a high power density are being developed and trialed on over 2,500 m² of space.
The choice to win
To accelerate the set-up and development phase, GROB consolidated its knowledge of winding and inserting technology and, in early 2017, acquired a renowned mechanical engineering partner for the production of electric motors – DMG meccanica. To complete its integration and optimize its structure, DMG meccanica has undergone the final step of the acquisition and been renamed GROB Italy Srl in January 2018.
The cooperation between GROB and DMG meccanica was a win-win situation for both companies. GROB took this step in order to strengthen its many years of research and development work in the field of electromobility and DMG meccanica has found in GROB a strong, globally-oriented partner for series production.
A place to design and manufacture
To expand these technologies further investments are planned, like the new plant in Pianezza in Italy which is currently under construction. The transfer of the GROB Italy plant from Buttigliera Alta to Pianezza is part of a long-term development plan which intends to make Pianezza a place of reference regarding the design and manufacturing of special machines and automation solutions for the production of electric motors. To support this important technological development, GROB has set up the new plant in Pianezza as a highly functional center, with an area of 24,000 m², of which 4,800 m² are dedicated to production and 3,300 m² to offices and services. It is intended to pool the whole production cycle from conceiving an idea to its practical implementation and with its expertise as a turn-key supplier, recognized by the automotive industry on many occasions, GROB has already mastered all the processes and technologies required to offer system concepts for reliable and cost-efficient series production.
One of the core processes in the production of an electric motor is the process of guiding the copper wires into the stator. GROB covers all known processes here, including wave winding technology, the hairpin process and fan-coil technology. GROB Italy Srl also covers the winding/inserting technology as well as the needle winding. The design of electric motors is aimed at a high power density and good efficiency. This requires very precise machines and systems. The challenge lies in the manufacture of process-stable and precisely timed systems, since very tight tolerances are specified to achieve performance. For battery cells currently round, prism and pouch cells are used. These are assembled to form a module. Planning parameters such as degree of automation, cycle time and output quantities are individually adapted to customer requirements. New processes, materials and technologies are researched and tested with regard to their suitability for use in the automotive industry. A very varied mechanical engineering is required for module assembly (cell assembly, module assembly, packing assembly). This means that GROB can market and operate all the production processes required in the automotive industry.