Autocraft: EV Battery Management & Using Digital Twins

Mike Hague-Morgan, Autocraft Solutions Group, discusses eMobility adoption trends, EV battery repair and using digital twins to keep manufacturers safe

Mike Hague-Morgan is the Executive Director at Autocraft Solutions Group, parent company of Autocraft EV Solutions, industry leaders in the testing, repair and remanufacturing of EV batteries. He drives growth and innovation across the wider group, as the company supports the automotive industry on its transition to cleaner forms of propulsion through our world-class remanufacturing capability.

I joined 15 years ago, when Autocraft was a privately-owned company, primarily focused on ICE remanufacturing. At that time, the business was underperforming and, recognising its potential, I instigated a management buyout (MBO) in 2010,” he says. Since then, we have undergone a profound transformation, moving from what was a traditional manufacturing business to one of the early adopters of digital manufacturing. This shift has been integral to our success. We’ve invested heavily in R&D, leading to our range of EV testing, repair and remanufacturing solutions, known as REVIVE®, and the creation of Autocraft EV Solutions.”

Here, Hague-Morgan tells us about eMobility, electric vehicle battery repair and how digital twins can keep manufacturers safe.

Hello Mike, tell us about EV battery repair and remanufacturing.

When EVs were first introduced, most of the industry believed batteries wouldn’t fail. Sadly, this was not the case, which led to many batteries containing healthy cells being prematurely recycled. Despite the positive associations with recycling, such processes entail massive environmental costs. 

Our REVIVE® technology allows us to test batteries with unparalleled speed and accuracy to identify the root cause of battery faults on a cellular level and restore optimal performance by replacing underperforming cells with healthy ones that have been sourced from existing battery packs. This process is EV remanufacturing, and having developed the first industrialised process, we have carried out thousands of fault-free EV battery repairs and are living proof of what is possible. 

Although we cannot return a battery to brand new condition, we can reverse the effects of cyclical ageing to bring the battery to the optimal state of health for where it is at in its life cycle. In doing so, we can ensure that batteries perform to the required level throughout the lifespan of the vehicle.

 

How do you use digital twins?

As early entrants into repair and remain, we have gathered thousands of data sets to create a digital model of how EV batteries degrade over time. Our digital twin can be used as a reference point for battery state-of-health, allowing us to compare batteries to quickly and accurately identify when a specific cell or module is performing below the desired level and/or where one is at risk of failure.

Having this predictive capability allows us to address faults proactively before they become problematic. We can actually quantify the performance impact of replacing specific modules, so that we can make more informed decisions on the best possible repair plan based on the cost and performance goals of our customers.

 

How does this keep manufacturers safe?

The more data we collect, the better we become at detecting cells that are at risk of underperforming or failure. This ensures preventative action can be taken to minimise the risk of repeat failures – crucial for protecting OEMs from the associated reputational and financial costs.

There is also a strong environmental case for digital twins. When we understand EV battery health at a granular level, we can maximise the lifespan, allowing OEMs to reduce their environmental footprint as healthy battery packs are no longer needlessly recycled.

 

How does this extend the life of an EV?

It helps us to detect errors at a cellular level, often before they’ve occurred, and to take corrective action via remanufacturing.

When recovering cells/modules from failed packs, a large portion are still fit for purpose and we can establish this through our testing capability, which is augmented with the use of our digital twin. This extends the life of the battery while unlocking the value of the replacement modules, which would have otherwise been lost. 

 

What are the environmental and economical benefits, for you, the customer and OEMs?

There is a clear environmental benefit, since the amount of energy and resources used is a mere fraction of that required to recycle a pack or to produce a new one. The cost of repairing is also significantly lower.

For EVs to become a viable alternative to ICE, we need to build consumer confidence in EV by showing that battery state of health can be accurately assessed and managed. When we prove that fears surrounding battery decline are largely unfounded, this promotes confidence in used EVs and retains their value. 

 

Tell us about the eMobility adoption trends you’ve seen

Although we’ve seen EVs account for many new car sales, there is still nervousness around used EVs and we see this as an obstacle to electrification. 

Whereas ICE vehicles are a known quantity and there are clearly defined procedures for repair, many still have doubts around how to manage long-term EV battery health, particularly outside of the warranty period. We believe our work plays a crucial role in instilling confidence in EVs and that we have developed a viable, scalable methodology in response to this industry challenge.

 

What do the next 12 months hold for you and the company?

We are being approached by more and more OEMs for our solutions. There is clear demand for EV battery repair, and we’re continuing to scale our business in order to meet demand in strategic locations around the world. 

OEMs are more sustainability conscious than ever and we are on a mission to showcase the possibilities of remanufacturing. For electrification to be truly successful, we must get the full value from every cell before second-life or recycling enter the equation.

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