This week saw the most recent Members Site Visit meeting at XALT Energy in Midland, Michigan. More than 50 NAATBatt International members had the opportunity to tour one of the few lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facilities in the United States. The XALT facility was amazing. It is a state-of-the-art plant that is so clean and so well organized it seems possible to eat off of the floors. On the day of the visit, the plant was busy making cells including two different anodes. The flexibility and efficiency of XALT’s manufacturing process impressed everyone who participated in the tour.

But the most impressive thing about the XALT Energy tour was the activity at the plant. Two years ago, the old Dow-Kokam was sitting nearly idle—a poster child for government-funded white elephants. Industry insiders scratched their heads when Dennis Townsend effectively bought the facility from Dow in November 2013. Today, four out of the five production lines in the plant are operating at full capacity. According to XALT Energy, plans substantially to expand the facility are actively being considered.

The next Gigafactory might not be in Nevada; it might be in Midland, Michigan.

The feedback from our members about the tour and the networking dinner at the Creek Grill has been overwhelmingly positive. We are actively working on plans for future Members Site Visit Meetings at UniEnergy Technologies and 1Energy Systems in Seattle later this year and at CSA Group (Cleveland) and teamtechnik (Freiberg, Germany) next year.

If you attended the meeting at XALT Energy, thanks for coming. If you did not attend, please talk to someone who did. These Members Site Visit Meetings are some of the best programs in the industry for gaining market intelligence and valuable new business contacts. No trade show even comes close. It is easy to underestimate the value of Members Site Visit meetings if you have not attended one; it is impossible not to appreciate their value if you have. Please keep checking this newsletter for announcements of upcoming meetings.