The “Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components” (PEM) chair at RWTH Aachen is working together with Daimler Truck AG on the pilot production of battery cells. The RWTH facility supports the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in setting up an “InnoLab Battery” at the Mannheim site. “With increasing technological possibilities, the change from the combustion engine to the electric motor is also taking place in the commercial vehicle sector,” says Heiner Heimes, senior managing engineer at the PEM Chair: “This makes it even more important for manufacturers to also focus on the production of the key battery cell component.”

Fist formula for the traffic turnaround: Executive PEM chief engineer Dr. Heiner Heimes (r.) and “InnoLab Battery” director Dr. Michael Salmen seal their cooperation for the Daimler Truck Innovation Lab in Mannheim.  Photo: PEM RWTH Aachen

At the “Daimler Truck InnoLab Battery” in Mannheim, development and production departments work closely together to generate innovative market solutions for trucks and buses. There, the future lithium-ion battery cells will be developed, produced on a pilot line, and assembled into complete battery systems. Therefore, Daimler Truck plans to set up more than 60 new facilities in the approximately 10,000-square-meter “InnoLab Battery.” By the end of 2024, the researched findings will be incorporated into the development of Daimler Truck’s battery-electric product platform.

“When designing and ramping up the necessary equipment, speed and flexibility are the most critical factors to consider,” explains Dr. Michael Salmen, head of the InnoLab Battery at Daimler Truck: “We want to optimize product features, test different manufacturing processes, and optimize product features, test various manufacturing methods, and industrialize production processes. Our goal is to be a pioneer in the commercial vehicle industry and offer competitively differentiated battery systems.” The PEM Chair and the spin-off “PEM Motion,” which acts as an engineering service provider, are to assist with the planning of production lines, procurement, space, and building planning, as well as in the design of a production digital twin.

Business meets science: The Daimler Truck team around “InnoLab Battery” director Dr. Michael Salmen (5th from left) and the PEM team around the chief managing engineer Dr. Heiner Heimes (5th from right) seal their partnership in the Aachen “Cellfab” to set up the innovation lab in Mannheim. Photo: PEM RWTH Aachen

Several “InnoLabs” are part of Daimler Truck’s vision of the future, which was agreed on for the company’s German component plants in 2021 and which set out the cornerstones for establishing a production and technology network for electric drive components and battery systems. A second “InnoLab” will be set up at the Kassel, and Gaggenau sites, which will be dedicated to powertrains, and the main components will include electric motors, inverters, gearboxes, and axle systems. 

About „Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components“ (PEM) – RWTH Aachen University

The Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components (PEM) chair at RWTH Aachen University was founded in 2014 by “StreetScooter” co-inventor Professor Achim Kampker. In seven research groups, the teams dedicate themselves to all aspects of development, manufacture, and recycling of battery systems and their components, as well as fuel cells and the production of the electric powertrain and entire vehicle concepts. At the headquarters in the German-Dutch industrial park Avantis and other locations – for example, in the “eLab” electromobility laboratory on the RWTH Aachen campus and the electric truck research hall in the Aachen’s Ostviertel district – are a total of around 75 researchers, 30 technical and administrative staff and more than 110 student assistants. The focus of the PEM team is always sustainability and cost reduction – with the goal of a seamless “innovation chain” from basic research to large-scale production in the immediate vicinity. 

About Daimler Truck

Daimler Truck Holding AG is the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer, with over 35 central locations and approximately 100,000 employees. The “Daimler Trucks” and “Daimler Buses” divisions “Daimler Buses” include the seven-vehicle brands “BharatBenz,” “Freightliner,” “FUSO,” “Mercedes-Benz,” “Setra,” “Thomas Built Buses” and “Western Star.” In the medium and heavy truck segment of more than six tons of gross vehicle weight, “Daimler Truck” is the world market leader.

About PEM Motion

PEM Motion GmbH was founded in 2014 from the chair for “Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components” (PEM) at RWTH Aachen University. The company around managing director Dr. Christoph Deutskens sees itself as a consulting and engineering service provider in the field of innovation, primarily in electromobility. Its activities range from product development and production design of alternative drive components such as battery cells and electric motors to infrastructure and industrialization projects. Customers include automotive manufacturers, mobility providers, suppliers and start-ups. Headquartered in Aachen, Germany, PEM Motion is represented by more than 70 employees at a total of five locations in Europe and North America.