Northvolt was founded in Sweden in 2016 with a bold and simple plan – to develop the world’s greenest battery cell and to establish a European supply of batteries that will enable the future of energy. And it has been an incredible journey. Today, the company employs more than 2000 people, representing over 70 nationalities. With facilities in Skellefteå, Västerås and Stockholm, Northvolt produces not only battery cells, but complete scalable systems to support any battery business needs.
Growing at such pace, with sustainability as a business model, places huge demands on IT. In 2020, Northvolt chose to fully standardize on Microsoft Surface. A key argument was the rigorous sustainability program behind the Surface family from product design and sourcing to energy efficiency, refurbishing and recycling. Another important aspect was the wide range of devices and configurations available. Black Surface Laptop was a perfect fit for Northvolt, with its sleek design, touch and pen. And the Surface Book with its Quadro GPU has proved itself a perfect choice for developers. Ermal Bizhuta is Tools & Products Engineering Manager at Northvolt. In his role, he leads teams through creative processes, set to come up with solutions both for internal and external use:
– We usually work at a very fast pace. So, we’re constantly looking for the best tools and platforms that enables collaboration between us. This means IT that removes barriers, IT that lets people focus and do their job. IT that just works. Microsoft Surface is just that.
Currently, Northvolt recruits more than 100 people a month. This means onboarding has to be fast and efficient. The company has even developed their own PowerApp to quickly assign new devices on premise, as soon as they arrive. Olivia Ivkovic is IT Service Manager at Northvolt, overlooking that IT runs smoothly and supports the organization in the most convenient way:
– When you open up your new computer on your first day, you should feel at home, it has to feel familiar. Using Microsoft Surface with Autopilot, this is the case. You just open the device, log in, and everything is there for you. You are ready to go.
As in most companies today, the employees need daily access to highly sensitive information, making security another important aspect. The Microsoft Surface security approach is chip-to-cloud, meaning security in every level, from firmware management to the ability to remotely locate, wipe and reboot lost or stolen devices. It also means making safe handling easy for every employee. Olivia gives examples:
– Through Windows Hello, all passwords are replaced with two-factor authentication. And in addition, we use facial and iris recognition. We also use Microsoft Intune to make certain that all devices and apps are compliant with our security requirements.
The Northvolt offices are modern, activity based, with lots of areas for co-operation and spontaneous creation. People also work a lot remotely, from home or travelling between different locations. Something that obviously has increased during the pandemic. Olivia continues:
– Microsoft has this concept, that makes it easy to move seamlessly between devices. So, if you use Teams on your Surface or your phone or you go to a meeting room, everything feels the same, so it’s easy for a new employee to move between different facilities, but also between different devices.
The level of innovation at Northvolt is overwhelming. And as in any innovative company, spontaneous gatherings and unstructured brainstorms are common. Often, problems need to be solved fast, so the rest of the chain can move on. Ermal gives us an example:
– Even though we are an ultra-modern company, I can still be very old school. In a meeting room with ideas and creative thoughts flying around in the air, you sometimes want to just quickly scribble it down. With Surface you can. You are able to brainstorm and engineer thoughts without having the need to use endless loads of paper.
In a company as Northvolt, the commitment to sustainability obviously goes across everything they do. It includes sourcing of raw materials, production, transportation of goods and innovative recycling technologies. And IT is no exception. The choice of IT products has a considerable impact on both the environment and people’s lives and working conditions all over the world. Olivia explains:
– In this area, Microsoft is outstanding. From their goal to be carbon negative by 2030, to hands-on practices like how they handle recycled boxes, do RMA on equipment and what they actually build their computers from. They also have a great way of consciously improving the energy efficiency of their devices.
Looking back at an incredible journey, the growth target for the next few years is even more aggressive. To be able to scale, the company needs strong partners that can keep the pace, have access to the best technologies and help them innovate. Fredrik Ohlsson, Vice President IT, concludes:
– Together with ATEA and Microsoft, we form a strategic alliance that is taking us into the future. A future of fast innovation, sustainable innovation, green energy, and at the end of the day a better world that we can hand down to our children.