In China, for example, Comau is collaborating with Shanghai Hydrogen Propulsion Technology (herein referred to as SHPT), a leading hydrogen fuel cell company in Shanghai, to provide an advanced mass production line.
Similarly, in other projects, the company is pursuing opportunities to create, produce, and commercialize hydrogen solutions for light and heavy-duty vehicles, working on an electrolyzer manufacturing pilot project in Europe, and on opportunities in Oceania.
All of these projects aim to industrialize largely manual manufacturing environments. This will allow production volumes to be raised and the quality of high-precision processes to be increased. Automation can also reduce costs by up to 20%, according to internal estimates, partly by increasing accuracy and partly by reducing the burden related to safety measures in controlled environments.
Taking a closer look at this hydrogen project in China, SHPT is a holding subsidiary of SAIC Motor, whose hydrogen fuel cell products are widely used in passenger cars, buses, light, medium and heavy trucks, forklifts, trailers, and many other applications. Hydrogen fuel cell and electrolyzer technologies can also be extended to distributed power generation and cogeneration, for ships, aviation and other non-automotive sectors.
Comau’s collaboration with SHPT for the fuel cell production line represents the company’s first project in the field of hydrogen-based energy. As part of this project, Comau will develop and implement high-precision, high-speed proprietary technology to simultaneously perform a series of part stacking operations. Scheduled for delivery in late 2022, this state-of-the-art technology solution manages picking, code reading, positioning and loading, in just 4 seconds. In this way, Comau will help SHPT achieve several production goals, including increasing annual production capacity, through fully automated stations.
“Comau has a strong reputation and expertise in the new energy vehicle industry and is known as a provider of complete automation and electrification solutions,” said SHPT’s Director of Manufacturing Engineering. “We expect the collaboration on this project to make our production process more flexible and efficient, and further ensure that our fuel cells continue to be of excellent quality.”
According to internal estimates, which are based on data provided by the IEA and IHS, Comau predicts that hydrogen use will double in the next decade, driven largely by new strands such as mobility and energy storage. Green Hydrogen generation will also increase the demand for electrolyzers, from the estimated 120 MW installed in 2020 to more than 20 GW expected by 2030. In terms of fuel cells, Comau assesses that the market will grow exponentially, from a few thousand units deployed in 2020 to 1.2 million units around 2030, equivalent to more than 100 GW of hydrogen power.
“In partnership with leading companies in the hydrogen fuel cell industry, such as SHPT, we are providing both the development of manufacturing services and innovative solutions that help in achieving greater competitive advantage for the customer,” added Nicole Clement, Director of Marketing at Comau. “These collaborations also confirm Comau’s continued investment and expansion in the area of electrification, thus contributing to the creation of more sustainable mobility in the future.”
Gaetano Cantalupo, Comau’s APAC Cluster Leader, said the company is happy “to collaborate with a leading company in the fuel cell industry to offer innovative solutions that will ensure SHPT’s products have a greater advantage in the market.”