SK On is expected to place separate orders for tab welders and packaging equipment used in battery production at factories run by Blue Oval SK, its joint venture with Ford, which will give increased chances to suppliers to win orders.
The South Korean battery maker had previously ordered both kits as one project and placed a single order.
This was not always the case as it placed a separate orders for the two pieces of equipment when it set up its first battery production line at its facility at Seosan, South Korea.
This was done to review kits from diverse suppliers as its battery business was just starting.
But from 2017 it grouped them had used equipment mostly from Mplus.
It ordered notching kits from Youil Energy Tech and stacking kits from Woowon Technology.
But this changed last year when SK On chose Hana Technology as its supplier of tab welder and packaging equipment for its first factory at Yancheng, China, signaling that the company was looking for more options.
Mplus won the orders for Ivansca, Hungary and the second factory at Yangcheng earlier this year but the competitive style for placing orders by SK On remained the same.
For laser kits used with tab welders, SK On had previously mostly used Rockwell Automation’s but was now reviewing those from Bosch, sources said.
Toptec was also very likely to win the order for tab welders, they added.
The supplier is also expected to leverage its position as the second largest shareholder of Woowon Technology, which supplies stacking kits to SK On.
In battery production, the stacking process is done right before the tabs are welded onto the cell, so supplying the equipment needed together makes sense.