Senior Automation Engineer Julius Beck: "We’re building the world’s most modern supercapacitor factory"
Julius Beck joined Skeleton’s Scale-up team in February 2022 to lead the industrial automation of the upcoming Lepizig Superfactory in Saxony, Germany. Now he’s looking for new colleagues to join the ride.
What do you do at Skeleton?
In a nutshell, I’m leading the industrial machinery and the digitalization side of building our superfactory, taking care that the scale-up project becomes not only a success but an industrial lighthouse.
Why did you join Skeleton?
After working in Germany and China in the automotive industry and mainly with gearboxes, I was looking for professional challenges with more responsibility closer to my hometown of Gotha in Saxony.
What got me hooked, was the opportunity for professional development. The objective was to create the most modern supercapacitor factory that has ever existed, whilst having a blank sheet of paper in front of me. I was expected to bring my own ideas as well as past industrial experiences and put them into practice. Despite being often advertised by employers, these values are less frequently put into action. In a company like Skeleton, you can see that your input is appreciated and implemented fast.
In a company like Skeleton, you can see that your input is appreciated and implemented fast.
Another thing that grabbed my attention was the option-sharing policy to grant its employees some ownership of the company. This adds another layer and brings the staff incentive to look at the big picture to benefit the company and not limit their view to only work-task specific details or personal responsibility. It motivates you to think about bringing value to others and drives you to widen your skillset.
What do you like about working here?
I appreciate that employees are recognized for their knowledge and have a large amount of professional independence. Naturally, together with a lot of freedom comes a lot of responsibility. It’s sort of a double-edged sword that is very appealing to some and frightening to others. You don’t have anyone micromanaging you, ordering you what to do and what not to do, or telling you in detail how to work. However, if you’re not up to the challenge, there is also no long row of colleagues behind ready to take over or clean up the mess.
Also, I’m grateful for work-time flexibility. I don’t have to start my day at 6 because it most likely doesn’t count when I am at work, it counts what is the outcome of my work. ---
What have been some of the highlights of your time at Skeleton?
It’s a privilege to be part of establishing the first real industrial-scale factory in such a mission-heavy field as energy saving. Being in the position to build a whole industrial plant for a company from the building up to the last piece of equipment is something that you might dream about, however, it’s an opportunity that is rarely given. I am proud to have earned the trust of the management board to be the single point of contact for Siemens, our partner in building the Leipzig Superfactory.
Having the opportunity to build highly automated supercapacitor manufacturing for the global technology leader is nothing to take granted for. Especially the possibility to build a system that consists only of stringent layers, without having any in-between solutions. We are in a stage where we can already tell that the designed systems will be ready to implement central artificial intelligence in the future. This will help to continuously improve our productivity and our own energy consumption as well as the overall output. It is fun to be part of a system story like this, a chance you will not get every day.
Having the opportunity to build highly automated supercapacitor manufacturing for the global technology leader is nothing to take granted for.
What is exciting about working in the Scale-up team?
One major benefit is the opportunity to interact with almost the entire company because every single product has touchpoints with us. From cell to the module level, from R&D to industrial engineering, finance, and logistics – sooner or later these topics will be on the Scale-up team’s table.
Thanks to that you experience different layers of the company, whilst having a front-row seat to interesting topics and talented people, a wide array of business cases, and different points of view. For example, I’ve really enjoyed getting in touch with our Dresden factory shop-floor operators and hearing their insights on the machinery. However, it has been just as eye-opening to host investors on the building site and join those discussions.
Who are you looking for to join the team?
It really is a great time to jump on board to experience the ride. We’re hiring people from a wide range of backgrounds. For instance, we are looking for technical people with machine-learning experience as well as engineers working in digitalization and automation, both shop floor and IT. We’d like to strengthen our team with production IT and project management expertise. Additionally, we’re hiring interfaces for discussions with machine suppliers who would take care of technical evaluations, project management etc.
It really is a great time to jump on board to experience the ride. We’re hiring people from a wide range of backgrounds.
How would you describe your colleagues?
They are open-minded in the way that they’re open to accepting ideas from others and they are open to taking constructive criticisms. They have the bigger picture in mind, even when working with minute details because we have figured out that such level of detail is absolutely necessary, even when it takes some time. They’re passionate and dedicated. They take responsibility for what they are doing, they’re self-managing, and work in a structured way.
From the engineering point of view, what is thrilling about energy storage devices?
To be honest, I find the classical battery industry boring. It’s a mature industry with little innovation and thousands of factories with identical manufacturing steps. Supercapacitor-based energy storage technologies, on the other hand, is something really new and exciting. Of course, some important milestones have been reached already, but we can feel every day that there is still innovation to come, especially with our own Curved Graphene which will be a real game-changer on the market.
We can feel every day that there is still innovation to come, especially with our own Curved Graphene which will be a real game-changer on the market.
The supercapacitor itself is very interesting component-wise. The mechanical can design and the electrochemical package are simple but at the same time very complex since every detail has to be harmonized. Moreover, the application potential of supercapacitors is impressively wide from wind turbines, mining trucks, buses and medical equipment to nuclear fusion tokamaks.
For me, it’s important that we’re helping to recover and reuse energy that would otherwise be aimlessly wasted. That kind of fight against climate change makes sense to me. We’re regenerating energy with our supercapacitors in trams and elevators to give a few examples. We will incorporate our own supercapacitors also in the Lepizig Superfactory. For example, at the end of the testing line, we condition the cells by charging and discharging them. Figurately speaking, we don’t want to blow that discharged energy out of the window, but to use it again to condition the next cells.