Elon Musk (Tesla, Space X,…) is building a Gigafactory to build batteries. What stroke me is how he defined the building itself in his speech when he launched the Tesla Powerwall, a solution for home owners to disconnect from the electricity grid. Elon said they were building the factory as a product. This is where Elon’s genius comes in.
Batteries are not a fancy high tech product. Building them is mainly a chemical process. Building a chemical factory is not a sexy thing and has been done 1000 times before. However, by approaching the factory as a product (for internal use even), Tesla will once more be able to deliver real innovation.
Let’s take one step back: Building a Gigafactory is not a goal for Elon. The goal of Tesla is to change the energy production towards a more CO2 neutral one. The factory is just a way to help that goal achieve. So with the Gigafactory, Tesla is basically building a product for internal use. The difference this will make in the conception can be huge: Any other firm would probably look at those 1000 other chemical factories, try to scale that and build a factory just like all the others. Not hard to imagine that this factory will have all the benefits & downsides of those 1000 other ones. Because the architects, technicians,… conceiving, building & operating it will be the ones who have experience with all those other factories and bring that experience to the table. All these knowledge will only limit the thinking frame and come up with another dull factory.
Now imagine if you started from that clear goal in delivering a topnotch product to deliver batteries for the home (which no one really did before). This will open the possibilities for factory designers, chemists, supply chain specialists … to come up with real new solutions to all the problems they will face during construction… and be able to deliver a new kind of factory.
Also for this Gigafactory, Tesla keeps it’s open-source Patent policy which means they actually mean it: their Gigafactory is a product to achieve their larger goal, so whatever they learn & develop during the build of this Gigafactory, it will be open for others to benefit from. Because Elon realises Tesla is not in the market of operating Chemical factories that are different from competition, but in making the world more CO2 neutral. So the more Gigafactories pop up, the better their annual report will look.
Part of the larger speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKORsrlN-2k