New Power Site Spotlight: Milton Keynes is building the next generation of power
From China to Europe and all the way to the west coast of the United States, New Power employees span the globe.
With their environmentally conscious footprint located worldwide, each site is focused on building the future of power. Whether that’s assembling battery modules, building the next generation of fuel cell stacks, innovating electrolyzers or developing solid oxide capabilities, our sites and employees are the heartbeat that keeps New Power innovations moving towards a greener future. What they’re doing at each site is incredible and we want to show off all that they do in our new site spotlight series!
The first stop on our New Power facilities spotlight tour is Milton Keynes, England.
First acquired from Johnson Mathew Battery Systems (JMBS) in January 2018, the Milton Keynes site now houses 80 employees in Engineering, Build, Finance, Quality, Purchasing, Service, Facilities, Site Management, Project Management, Product Management, Health and Safety, and Electrochemistry. Since beginning operations, Milton Keynes has achieved several milestones for Battery Engineering in record time despite the challenges of 2020 and continues to further advance Cummins as a leader in innovation and electrified power.
Building next gen architecture
When it comes to leading innovation, thinking outside of the box is the standard method. In the case of Milton Keynes though, they're not thinking inside or outside of the box - they're thinking about the box. More specifically, the "box" they're thinking about is new low-cost battery pack design that will support future Cummins high voltage batteries.
With the Milton Keynes engineers focusing on the next generation of batteries, keeping manufacturing costs relatively low without compromising the strength of the architecture was a must. Prior to the next generation architecture, Cummins battery packs were built from a mixture of aluminium and carbon fiber. While it was lightweight, the carbon fiber made the mixture expensive and difficult to recycle.
Now, thanks to the team using key knowledge taken from passenger car body structure technology, the battery pack enclosures are designed using pure aluminium that is strong, lightweight and easier to recycle.
Using a platform design, multiple packs can be designed quickly and efficiently from one modular base design with different cells, cell capacities and packaging. The battery packs can be built using subpacks, allowing the battery to be flexible in terms of packaging locations. Its super compact design allows the subpacks to be split across a vehicle and wired together in a series and packaged between the frame rails of a vehicle.
Making swift progress
At the start of 2020, the team designed and built the first battery pack of the Cummins next generation battery programs and in just 5 months from project start, they entered the Alpha 1S testing phase. The early build and test data allowed the Milton Keynes team to make updates to the second Alpha 1T build that they then validated before handing the product to the customer for initial field tests.
The Alpha 1T build also included introducing the new Battery Management System (BMS). Working closely with the team in Talent, Oregon, the Milton Keynes team applied the new BMS in 4 months from BMS Project kick-off.
This phased Alpha 1S and Alpha 1T process ensured the team is delivering a quality product that is safe and reliable for our powertrain customer to use in less than 12 months from project start.
Our powertrain team in Columbus now has complete vehicle battery systems in the testing phase. These systems will then be installed into external customer demonstrator vehicles in the near future.
Milton Keynes is bringing innovation to life. The resilience the Battery Engineering teams at New Power Cummins in Milton Keynes, UK, Talent, Oregon and Columbus, Indiana have allowed them to work through the past year’s unexpected roadblocks to plan and deliver 5 projects. We are looking towards a brighter future and the accomplishments of our teams at New Power sites across the globe are leading the way.
Eager to learn more about the various New Power sites across the globe? Look for the next New Power site spotlight in this ongoing series!