A well known OEM forecast a significant increase in electric vehicle production. To meet the unprecedented demand this would create for lithium ion batteries, the automaker formed a strategic partnership with a leading battery manufacturer. Together, they aimed to construct a shared plant that would produce both electric motors and battery packs.
The facility is being built in phases, the first of which was made up of multiple sections of the plant totaling 6 million SF. The phase-one project was unique in that all facets of its design and implementation were led and executed by an internal team under the manufacturer’s authority—meaning the owner was also the designer, engineer, and construction manager. The team selected SSOE as a design partner for this phase with the flexibility to embody their out-of-the-box thinking and make their progressive goals a reality. SSOE provided key on-site and remote staff augmentation, in support of these critical functions:
- Process Integration – assisted with design and specification for a portion of the initial process-related facility packages (including local DI water stations and local wastewater lift stations), engineering support for the process systems, and a significant amount of PIPE-FLO modeling for many plant utility systems.
- Process Chemical – performed HAZOP, pipe supports, facility integration, and redesign of several bulk systems to meet updated needs or code requirements. Additionally, SSOE acted as a design and equipment specification “sanity check” for components on several of the small and bulk chemical handling systems.
- Utilities – provided a significant portion of the Revit modeling for utility systems, as well as equipment layout in the utility support buildings.
- Mechanical / HVAC – provided a substantial share of the Revit modeling and engineering support for the mechanical / HVAC systems for the facility.
The fluidity of design on this project created complications due to multiple sections of the facility being worked on interchangeably. SSOE’s engineers tackled these challenges by proactively solving problems, independently finding missing information, and piecing together details to achieve aggressive deliverables and goals that other A/E firms deemed impossible.
Ultimately, SSOE collaborated seamlessly with the manufacturer’s internal team. Drawing on industry expertise, the augmented staff was able to provide input on decisions that resulted in operational efficiencies, an improved layout, schedule compression, and more than $5 million in savings.
The facility will not only meet its lofty production goals, but also produce batteries for significantly less cost. Notably, it will be powered by renewable energy sources, with the goal of achieving net zero energy.