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“The Complete Automotive Industry is Transforming”

You see more and more electric cars on the roads, and manufacturers are working to make the transition to electric vehicles. In this interview, Alexander Döbelin, Vice President E-Mobility in Global Business Development, provides insights into the business and explains where Leadec’s strengths lie in this area.

You have been driving the expansion of Leadec’s services in the field of electric vehicles since 2022. Why is this market so important for us?

Alexander Doebelin: The complete automotive industry is transforming. The entire product design and with it the supply chain, the factory layout, and the machines and systems used are changing at a rapid pace. To position ourselves for the future, we therefore set the course for electric vehicles at an early stage. In addition, the market is changing as a new industry to produce cells and batteries is emerging.

In addition to OEMs, potential customers for us are now also battery cell and material manufacturers as well as battery system producers and integrators. Many of these manufacturers come from the Far East and are now setting up plants in Europe – under completely different conditions than in their traditional markets.

How are battery factories different from other plants?

In the production and assembly of battery cells, modules, and packs, the production process has not yet reached the same level of maturity as in engine production. We receive many requests to ramp up production quickly and efficiently. So, we get the factories up and running – but we also think about how we can optimize production and maintenance. The industry is very dynamic, and the requests are sometimes at extreme short notice. And sometimes Chinese pragmatism meets German regulations. For example, it’s a matter of making machines ready for acceptance while complying with all safety regulations. Once the factory is up and running, we provide facility services and maintenance activities. This is not much different from other factories. 

Alexander Doebelin, Vice President E-Mobility at Leadec

Leadec already has many customers from this sector. How did you manage to enter the market in this new segment?

The segment is no longer quite so new. We already won two major contracts at the beginning of 2020. As a long-standing partner of the automotive industry, we were trusted with this new topic as well. Orders for planning, automation and the conversion of production lines quickly followed. 

With the new industry for the production of cells and batteries, a new interesting target group has also emerged. These companies need support in industrializing their production. We have been able to position ourselves well there, particularly in Europe, the USA, and China.

This requires appropriate know-how at Leadec ...

I always say: Apart from mining, our services cover the entire value chain of a battery. From planning, optimization or maintenance of the cell, battery or electric vehicle factory to peripheral logistics, charging infrastructure and repair of defective batteries. In addition, Leadec has invested in the topic of electric vehicles and established a competence center for new battery-related services in Hoyerswerda, Germany, since 2019. 

What sets us apart is above all our process expertise gained in the automotive industry. Added to this are our technical expertise and our knowledge of production and maintenance. We transfer this know-how to battery factories and thus win new customers.

I am particularly pleased that our services and experience are in demand internationally and that the transfer of experience is successful. For example, after proving in Germany that we have the know-how, we will in future also be providing services in the area of transport safety for batteries in Alabama, USA. Overall, our global footprint is a major advantage and opens doors for us with customers, particularly in the triangle formed by Europe, Asia, and North America.

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