As a designer and manufacturer of custom battery packs for high reliability applications, our customers are continually demanding that we make packs that are smaller, have more power, run longer, and all at a competitive cost as they try to make their devices more portable.
When developing a custom battery pack, the last thing anyone wants is to hear their development hit a snag. Batteries already have a lengthy timeline going from concept to production, so staying on schedule is incredibly important. Of course, sometimes delays can just happen for reasons you have no control over, making it even more necessary to nail down the areas you can influence. Factors such as knowledge of certification requirements, manufacturing support capabilities, and prototyping processes can help keep your development on the right track.
How a battery pack becomes qualified as “smart” is, quite simply, because of software. The Smart Battery System (SBS) forum defines a smart battery as a battery pack where some level of communication occurs between the battery, the equipment, and the user. As a further technicality, their definition also requires that a smart battery must provide state-of-charge indications (i.e. fuel gauge).
Although the progress of technology moves fast and batteries are more popular for supporting mobile devices, it should be noted that the actual battery chemistries haven’t changed much over the last several years. The shift in hand-held devices are for rechargeable solutions with more energy and lighter weight which targets lithium chemistry.
What do I get for my tooling dollar? This question (in one form or another) is one that gets asked frequently. Tooling is always a concern for the customer. It’s an added cost which cannot be converted to sales and ultimately, the bottom line.
We're very proud to report that our recent product webinar, Lithium Battery Regulations and How They Affect OEMs, had the most viewer responses ever for a webinar hosted here at Epec! Over 300 registered for the event, confirming that these latest changes to shipping lithium battery are of real concern amongst some of the industry’s leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
In today's battery and charger market, most companies typically provide either battery pack assemblies or battery pack chargers, as opposed to providing both. In the past, buying a battery from one source and a charger from another worked just fine when using the older NiCd batteries with overnight chargers. However, due to new battery chemistries and the increasing need for faster charge times, careful matching of the charger to the battery has become essential. Without proper battery and charger matching, aspects such as safety, cycle life, and run-time may be greatly affected.
When you consider and evaluate the true stresses that lithium batteries encounter, most battery packs are designed to last three to five years if used and stored properly. Environmental conditions, not just charge cycling, are the key factors for longevity. The worst situation is keeping a fully charged battery at elevated temperatures. When not in use, batteries must be stored in a cool place.
There are several factors to consider when selecting the type of battery cell to use in your battery pack design. Looking at the battery requirements and the dimensional space available are important. Another factor that comes up is pricing. The top tier manufacturer brands can be expensive, but there are also comparable solutions in Asia that will reduce the cost.
Determining the cost of a battery pack with fuel gauge technology will vary depending on the accuracy of the battery fuel gauge required. The overall size of the battery pack will also have an effect on the final cost. For example, if a high-accuracy gauge is required on a small multi-cell battery, it could potentially double the cost. The good news is that the cost of battery cells become relatively small when factoring in the added value received from implementing a fuel gauge.