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Inside Ola Electrical’s Futurefactory | Autocar India

Written by Raghav

Ola Electrical’s trendy Futurefactory lies on the forefront of the corporate’s ambitions to upend how the auto trade works. Rishaad Mody will get to go to.

Revealed On Jun 11, 2022 07:00:00 AM

There are two issues Ola Electrical has in abundance – a widely known disdain for established auto trade timelines and an enormous quantity of funding to help that. These two forces got here collectively in a spectacular method within the making of the corporate’s model new plant they name the Futurefactory. This facility went from being an empty piece of land in Krishnagiri district, Tamil Nadu to a functioning manufacturing unit in a matter of eight months. That’s spectacular, irrespective of which means you have a look at it, even when the preliminary days of producing had been in fairly low numbers.

We visited the plant on a Saturday, when there are two working shifts as a substitute of three, besides, many a whole bunch of scooters had been made that day. The corporate says that it’s approaching a capability of 1,000 scooters a day and that its present put in capability is half 1,000,000 items per yr. That quantity, we’re informed, is restricted due to battery store constraints. The plant at the moment has one manufacturing line, however Ola has 500 acres of land, which is greater than sufficient to scale all the way in which as much as their monumental ambitions of ten strains and an annual capability of ten million items per yr.

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The complete manufacturing unit workforce is comprised of ladies and this type of empowerment deserves applause.

The second you stroll into the ability, two issues will stand out, or the shortage thereof. It’s surprisingly quiet for a producing plant and with large low-speed-high-volume followers put in all over, the air inside was humid, however removed from disagreeable. This regardless of the searing summer season warmth and the truth that this complete constructing exterior is in a darkish color. Firm founder Bhavish Aggarwal who led us across the plant additionally identified that there are PM2.5, PM10 and decibel measurements taken at six totally different places. He then confirmed us a two-acre house that they plan to show into an indoor forest space which looks like an exquisite thought. I’m wondering how they’ll be capable of preserve the plant’s near-clinical ranges of cleanliness, as a result of with the greenery typically come the birds and bugs.

One other improbable initiative is that the majority the workers, other than some senior administration, are girls. Proper from the safety guards who ushered us in to the employees on the meeting line, to these on the paint and weld outlets, and even the employee who rides the finished scooter off the road and onto the take a look at dyno, everybody was a girl. This type of empowerment deserves applause.

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The battery packs are assembled in home in a completely automated course of.

As you’ll count on from a model new manufacturing unit, particularly one which has ‘Future’ in its identify, an unlimited variety of the processes listed here are automated. Maybe essentially the most visually spectacular are the autonomous Novus Carry robots that tow trolleys stuffed with the required instruments and sub-assemblies to the varied stations on the meeting line. These robots are timed to reach in excellent coordination with the pace of the road’s motion and so they operate utilizing LiDAR know-how, in order that they know the place they’re and may instantly cease if somebody had been to cross their path.

Automated processes may also be seen within the battery pack meeting. Imported cells are sorted, organized within the battery pack casings after which linked to one another utilizing a sophisticated course of referred to as wire bonding. That is an ultrasonic friction welding course of that makes use of no exterior warmth to make the 244 connections between the cells in every 23kg battery pack and it takes place at room temperature. Ola claims to be the one two wheeler OEM in India utilizing this various to the everyday spot welding course of and that it’s in any other case used solely by premium four-wheeler corporations like Tesla.

The battery pack casing materials that Ola has chosen to make use of is a particular plastic that they declare is seven occasions extra thermally conductive than typical plastic. However, this materials continues to be a number of occasions much less conductive than aluminium. The Ola S1 additionally has no energetic battery cooling methodology like a few of its rivals, however the firm strains the internal part of the pack with a thermally conductive paste.

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Absolutely assembled battery packs await inspection earlier than being put in in scooters on the manufacturing line.

For the chassis, 49 particular person metallic elements are available in from exterior suppliers, however the precise chassis welding is completed in home. Following this, the frames are chemically handled for rust prevention earlier than going by means of a sophisticated paint sales space. There are 16 plastic physique components that get painted and the robotic portray arms are fed with ten strains of colors. These arms can shortly change color which might be why Ola is definitely capable of supply prospects such a variety of colors. The plant additionally has a sophisticated water recycling system.

As we stroll by means of the plant, there are quite a few cases the place Aggarwal’s sheer pleasure at his creation is obvious to see and this facility is certainly one thing to be pleased with. In fact, as superior as a manufacturing unit could also be, it’s in the end solely the product that prospects will expertise, and Ola nonetheless has vital points on this regard.

The invited media had the uncommon alternative to work together with the corporate founder after the go to was full. The query I selected to ask was that whereas the product is undoubtedly spectacular, even game-changing in lots of regards, there have been additionally quite a few points, together with the shortcoming to persistently present the promised efficiency in Hyper mode for quite a lot of minutes with out thermal points.

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Ola’s electrical scooter chassis are all welded within the Futurefactory.

The response I obtained was to the tune that any vehicle, whether or not ICE or electrical, will face efficiency degradation and why we don’t ask corporations like Ather and others the identical query. This went backwards and forwards a few occasions, with me reasoning that we have now take a look at knowledge to point out that the Ather examined alongside the Ola had no such points, however no clear reply was supplied earlier than the road of questioning was handed over to another person.

All through the session, each time a tricky query was requested, it was typically disregarded with a response that successfully said, we’re already market leaders within the EV house and whereas there may be some noise being created now as a result of we’re disruptors, that noise will quickly die away.

The unlucky reality, nevertheless, is that whereas there are numerous completely happy Ola house owners, there are additionally scores going through points with buyer help, both through the distinctive direct buy course of, or with problematic scooters. A glance underneath any of the tweets shared by the corporate and its founder will reveal simply what number of upset prospects are on the market.

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LiDAR assisted robots transfer alongside the meeting line bringing tooling trolleys at simply the appropriate time.

On the very day I write this, Hormazd’s model new S1 Professional that has run lower than 100km refused to begin. He left it unused for ten days with 74 % battery cost remaining, however got here again from an abroad journey to a scooter with a fully flat battery the place the all-important TFT display wouldn’t activate. We hear that different prospects who’ve confronted an analogous problem have had your entire battery changed underneath guarantee.

Ola has obtained many issues proper with its first EV, together with the specs, options, consolation, promised efficiency and, most significantly, the value. One other large deal is Ola Electrical being one among simply 4 corporations to qualify for the federal government’s Manufacturing Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for Superior Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery Storage.

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All inbuilt at some point: Ola informed us in end-April that it was approaching a capability of 1,000 items a day.

However it could seem that no quantity of monetary would possibly or outspoken bravado can cowl the truth that the testing and validation interval for a brand new vehicle can’t be impatiently rushed by means of, particularly in a driving setting as robust as ours. And but, within the midst of essentially the most speedy senior administration exodus in current trade historical past, the corporate is already speaking about bringing its first automotive out in 2023, and beginning a battery cell manufacturing plant within the subsequent two to 3 years.

Ola Electrical has all of the makings of being a sport changer, a power for optimistic change within the vehicle trade. However to realize that, it must focus an entire lot extra on its present product in addition to the shopper expertise, which is one thing that’s nonetheless to be seen.

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Raghav