Against the background of the paradigm shift in the powertrain of the motorcar, a research and development team was set up at GROB three years ago tasked solely with the theme of electromobility. Working in close collaboration with wellknown representatives from the automotive industry, it quickly became clear that there was a great need for mass production installations in the automotive industry, with a particular focus on key components, namely the electric motor and battery components. In order to accelerate the development work, GROB acquired a renowned partner in machine and plant engineering for electric motors, DMG meccanica, benefiting from its expertise in winding and inserting technology. In tandem, a dedicated development and application center for electromobility was created in Hall 2 at the factory in Mindelheim. Spread over more than 2500 mq² (27,000 ft2), work is under way developing and testing processes and methods in machines and installations in collaboration with the automotive industry. The goal is mass production of highly effective electric motors with completely newly developed technologically, as well as of very compact battery modules with high power density.
The challenge facing GROB now is the task of translating these yet unknown processes and methods into precisely timed movements and workflows in completely newly developed CNC machines. The new, highly flexible and servo-controlled machines are used for mass production of the stator and rotor electric motor components. In stator production, in particular, there are various manufacturing techniques for guiding the copper wires into the slots of the stator. The new GROB machine portfolio covers the entire production process for an electric motor, from various winding and shaping processes for the wires to assembly, to contacting.
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. This means that GROB can market and operate all the production processes required in the automotive industry.
Electromobility spurs the whole company on
When GROB created a new third division ten years ago with the launch of universal machines, it managed to build directly upon the image of the G-modules, since GROB, as a turnkey supplier in the systems business, already had an excellent reputation in the market. It is not the same with ‘electromobility’. With its technology, it is calling for a new way of working and, thus, for changes in approach. While the processes used in existing divisions form the basis and serve as models, it is important to remember that e-mobility is still a relatively new concept for the automotive industry. All market operators have to adjust their approach. Projects are currently only being set up and developed in close consultation with the automotive industry. Many coordination meetings within the project teams of both parties are needed. This is in contrast to our core business of ‘system machines’, where our business is very much up and running. Sales have been enhanced with the recruitment of specialists with experience in electromobility. Customer inquiries are coordinated in an internal sales meeting and are allocated depending on the technology. A project team consisting of project management, innovation management and sales will then be formed to work out the best possible alternative for the customer.
Electromobility is on the rise worldwide
Since GROB has a very good reputation as a turnkey supplier in the automotive industry, we are highly valued as a partner on joint further development projects.
‘Not only that’, said German Wankmiller, ‘we already have a command of the complete process and technology and can market it.’ Even though markets are reacting to this at different speeds, GROB sales has adapted to the new technologies right around the world. Within the GROB Group, there is a uniform approach and sales structure which are closely coordinated with the headquarters in Mindelheim. Europe – more especially Germany – and China are pioneers in the field of electromobility. Within the next few years in China the number of electric vehicles will be fixed by law and consequently there is significant investment there. Initial projects are already in progress at GROB. To sum up, it can already be said that GROB is fully geared up for the theme of ‘electromobility’, identifies demand on the basis of market analysis, develops the right products and is already in a position to deliver. We make large development capacities available and have a dedicated team of designers on hand to develop these innovative technologies further.