Monday, 20 February 2012

Credit card sized rechargeable battery for portable electronic devices launched at Embedded World

Accutronics, the UK based developer and manufacturer of professional battery solutions, is set to launch a range of ‘Intellion’ credit card sized batteries for portable applications at Embedded World. These new smart batteries are ideal for high-tech portable applications including tele-healthcare devices, test and measurement equipment and wearable computers. Embedded World is taking place at the N├╝rnbergMesse GmbH, Messezentrum in Nuremberg Germany between February 28 and March 1, Hall 2, Stand 2-502.

Credit card sized batteries on show at Embedded World
The CC2300 and CC3800 credit card batteries have been developed by Accutronics in response to OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) demand for a short lead time, compact and rechargeable Lithium Ion battery solution for their portable devices. The products feature 3.7V Lithium Ion cell technology coupled with an impedance tracking fuel gauge, an active protection system, and a compact connector, all contained in a package with a footprint identical to that of a credit card. Regulatory approval is simplified as both batteries are CE marked and have been tested to IEC62133 (safety) and UN38.3 (transportation) standard. Both batteries are supplied with comprehensive technical back-up and a number of useful accessories which enable the OEM designer to easily integrate the battery into the device system.

“The demand for this kind of product might seem surprising, given the abundant availability of Lithium ion batteries in consumer electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptop computers,” explained Neil Oliver, technical marketing manager at Accutronics. “However, consumer-market batteries do not satisfy the requirements of OEMs in the quality-driven professional electronic device sector, so we’ve created these new credit card batteries to satisfy OEM demand”.

“The crux of all of our products is the technical support that goes hand in hand with them,” explained Oliver. “We believe that our credit card batteries fill a gap in the compact battery market for a fully-supported, OEM oriented battery solution. Device design engineers need technical guidance and feedback when they specify battery products and Accutronics is one of the few companies providing that support as standard. In addition to this, our excellent quality and delivery performance complete the service package that will get the device OEM to market quickly and confidently.”

The credit card batteries are part of the ‘Intellion’ range from Accutronics. Intellion products are smart, innovative portable power products, designed to meet the emerging needs of professional OEMs and market trends.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

B is for Banks... and the search for fuel gauge Nirvana

Carl Banks with a Lithium-ion fuel gauge PCB
We’ve all been there... Just as you turn on your laptop to deliver the key presentation of your entire career, the infernal machine runs out of power and you are left with a blank screen. It’s not possible! You checked the power gauge before you left the office and it said 80% remaining!

If you work in the battery industry, you have probably already used exactly this analogy to describe the importance of accurate gauging. It’s certainly a story familiar to Carl Banks, one of Accutronics’ fuel gauging experts. 

Amongst Carl’s key responsibilities is ensuring that all of Accutronics’ batteries are configured to provide the most accurate gauging possible. 

The fuel gauge is a vital part of a professional battery solution. The more accurate it is, the better it can track capacity and the more realistic the device’s predicted run time will be. In mission critical situations, like medical devices and military equipment this can be crucial.

“Of course, there are some applications where the fuel gauge isn’t as important as it is on a medical ventilator or pair of night vision goggles,” explained Carl. “But our customers are leaders in their chosen markets and they demand precise and reliable information whether the battery is brand new or many years old. This is why we test our batteries under various usage scenarios, continually collecting the data that is needed to set-up the fuel gauge.

“The most significant environmental factor that affects fuel gauge accuracy is temperature,” Carl continued. “However, we also have to address non-environmental issues such as charge and discharge rates and cycle life. Put simply, the more the battery is used the more its capacity drops over time, and the fuel gauge must account for this behaviour.”

“We use Texas Instruments’ gauges in many of our products,” Carl went on. “The data we gather from our tests is analysed and used in the programming of the fuel gauges’ FLASH memory. The whole process can take many weeks but it ensures we achieve the best possible precision.”

Carl was keen to emphasise the importance of the ‘impedance tracking’ fuel gauge technology that Accutronics now use in most of their new smart battery developments. This technology allows the battery fuel gauge to continually make adjustments to its remaining capacity prediction - even when the battery is not being used, by measuring the battery impedance during periods of inactivity. Older ‘coulomb counting’ gauges had to ‘learn’ about a battery by establishing the top of charge and discharge limits first. As a result, a battery fuel gauge that uses impedance tracking is more accurate and can be used for longer without needing to be calibrated – this means that customers can rely on the fuel gauge information and don’t need to spend time fully charging and discharging their devices to obtain accurate information.

So, next time you’re sitting in front of a redundant laptop, wishing you had a more accurate power gauge, spare a thought for Carl and his quest for fuel gauge nirvana, which helps ensure that genuinely mission critical applications don’t suffer the same problems as your laptop.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Accutronics shortlisted for major award

Earlier this week we learned that we've been shortlisted for the 2012 British Business Awards in the Small Business of the Year category. We’re really excited about the honour here, so we thought we’d share some details with you. 

The yearly British Business Awards celebrate exceptional performance in business and acknowledge those organisations that have made an impact in their industry sector. With nine different categories, the awards are designed to promote and encourage startups,
SMEs and large companies alike.

Participating enterprises in Small Business of the Year Award have to demonstrate solid success, be it growth or exploiting new products, production techniques, services or markets. The British Business Awards are run in conjunction with the Sentinel newspaper.

Here at Accutronics we have taken an innovative approach to all of our products and quality manufacturing has been at the forefront of our endeavors.

Our entry was covered by the Sentinel and here is what the journalists had to say:

“Today the Newcastle-under-Lyme battery firm, with its Li-on (lithium ion) range is a power house on the world stage (…)Currently employing some 45 people, it is exporting to over 30 countries and is a contender for The Sentinel Business Awards – having been nominated for the Staffordshire University-sponsored Small Business of the Year Award.”

You can read the full article here.

“We are delighted to have been shortlisted for this award,” said Robert Philips, managing director at Accutronics.  “Especially since it’s the first time we’ve entered! I think being shortlisted should be regarded as a reward for the whole team’s effort. We have a great working environment with experienced people here and I think it’s starting to show in achievements like this one. So keep your fingers crossed for us,” he concluded.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Accutronics at Embedded World 2012

From the 28th of February to the 1st of March we will be at the Embedded World 2012 exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany.

This is the first year that Accutronics have exhibited at this event. With the ever growing use of our smart battery products in embedded systems we want to get closer to existing and new customers alike.

You can visit us in Hall 2, booth number 502. Myself, Sales Manager Mark Edlin, Managing Director Rob Phillips and Senior Electronics Engineer Steve Dodds will be on hand over the three days to answer your questions and delight you with our products. I look forward to seeing you there.

If you need an invite to the exhibtion then please drop me an email and I will arrange for a ticket to be sent to you. Remember that 2012 is a leap year - so you are also welcome on the 29th of February.

Visit the Embedded World 2012 Website here