Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Going global

Accutronics is a UK developer and manufacturer of custom rechargeable batteries for professional applications. The business runs a global operation from its HQ and manufacturing facility, near to the city of Stoke-on-Trent in the West Midlands. Set up in September 2009, Accutronics has around 80 employees and its battery products are exported to over 30 countries across Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Rob Phillips, managing director of Accutronics, offers advice to companies considering exportation.
custom rechargeable batteries
Rob Phillips discusses custom rechargeable batteries at Compamed

Exporting enables us to reach the majority of our potential customers, the vast majority of whom are not based in the UK, rather than limiting our business to our own backyard. We target specific product application market sectors, such as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of portable medical devices, chosen to match our capabilities as a potential strategic supplier. We then research who these companies are and where they are based.

For any business considering exporting, my advice is to think big and look into it properly and personally. The worst that can happen is that you end up with a wiser, wider perspective on your business sector and decide in a well-informed way not to proceed. More likely, you will open up much greater potential growth for your business.

Carry out desk research, but then travel and investigate your potential future markets directly. Industry events, such as conferences and exhibitions, are a great opportunity for further research.

In November we exhibited at Compamed in Dusseldorf, Germany, a leading trade fair for the medical industry which hosts 700 exhibitors from 40 countries, and runs alongside the huge Medica exhibition on the same trade fair site.

For UK firms active in the medical equipment market, the sheer size and scope of this event is in a different ball park to UK-based trade fairs. Quite simply it needs to be experienced to be believed. I'd suggest attending an event like this and assessing whether you want to invest in an exhibition booth next time.

Depending on your sector, there may be some potential barriers, but if you have a good product or service that you believe in, then in our experience buyers are very interested in giving you a chance, regardless of your HQ location. In our industry sector, we successfully export to over 30 countries without using agents, distributors or any other export partners. Today, export makes up 95% of Accutronics’ sales turnover.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Accutronics €100,000 Test Equipment Investment

Accutronics has further reinforced its battery test facility capability with the recent installation of over €100,000 worth of new test equipment from the US based equipment manufacturer MACCOR. The introduction of the new equipment allows Accutronics to further accelerate development of higher voltage and higher power smart batteries such as its new 'CMX series', launched in November 2014. "This new equipment allows us to monitor every aspect of a battery's performance" said Carl Banks, product support engineer at Accutronics, "we are able to rapidly test multiple charge and discharge scenarios and pass the data to our customers quickly, shortening development time and reducing costs".
The new MACCOR system is able to charge smart batteries at the voltage and current requested by the smart battery itself, which can then be discharged at up to 600W, usually based on a profile which replicates the customers application and therefore ensures the battery is being tested in a way which matches how the customer will use the battery.
The Accutronics CMX series of seven batteries and three chargers have been specifically designed to power the next generation of medical devices - they are available with an option of 14.4V or 28.8V output and in three different mechanical configurations, discharge rates of up to 300W are possible. Each CMX series battery contains sophisticated fuel gauging electronics which constantly monitor the available capacity of the battery whether it is being charged, discharged or stored. This capacity information is relayed to the host device as either a capacity measurement or as a runtime prediction. In addition, CMX series batteries contain active protection circuitry to prevent them from being over charged, over discharged or over loaded - this enhanced level of protection ensures CMX series batteries remain safe if abused.
"Accutronics is committed to investing in the very latest test equipment" said Mike Allen, Technical Director. "The purchase of the MACCOR is the most recent manifestation of that commitment and will ensure Accutronics continues to lead the market in battery design and manufacturer."
Neil Oliver
Technical Marketing Manager

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Charging ahead with medical devices

~ Hi-tech medical equipment goes portable with new energy-dense battery ~

Independent battery design, development and manufacturing expert Accutronics has launched a new smart battery that fulfils the needs of manufacturers of high powered medical devices. The CMX series packs a punch - offering high energy density along with high power discharge. Medical OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) can now produce innovative portable devices without compromising on safety and reliability in life-critical applications.

The medical market is a challenging environment, and understandably so. With people's lives on the line it is essential that medical practitioners can rely on their equipment to perform under pressure. The rise in the use of portable devices such as acute ventilators, anaesthesia workstations and intra-oral scanners over the last twelve months has left many medical OEMs struggling to keep pace in the market.

“Part of our branded Entellion range, the CMX meets stringent regulations, demanding development schedules and innovation aims, whilst minimising unit costs," explained Neil Oliver, technical marketing manager at Accutronics.

The battery is available in three versions, using eight, twelve or sixteen '18650' sized cells, with continuous discharge rates of up to 300W. Two voltage platforms are used; 28.8V, which operates between 20.0V and 33.6V and 14.4V, which operates between 10.0V and 16.8V.

Smart features of the CMX series include active and passive protection circuits that prevent over-temperature, over and under-voltage, overload and short circuit.

Forming an essential part of its medical device operation, smart power management means the battery only requests charge when needed and shuts down when not being used. Accurate fuel gauging is possible to 1% through an LCD display, further enhancing reliability.

The new battery complies with the relevant transport regulation, which exists to eliminate the risk of explosion associated with the transport of such energy dense cargo. The CMX series complies with transportation (UN 38.3) and safety (UL2054 2nd ed. and IEC61233:2012) as well as electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) regulations (CE and FCC).

The range charges between zero and +40 degrees, discharges between -10 and +50 degrees and can be stored between -20 and +60 degrees. This results in 500 cycles of 80% minimum rated capacity.

Hospitals can now perform routine power management checks without having to remove the medical device from service using the smart charger that accompanies the CMX battery. A single charger can be used for different sized batteries, because the two devices automatically communicate exact voltage requirements.

For customer convenience, two chargers are available to accompany the CMX series, an internal single channel charger and an external dual bay desktop charger, which can also be used for battery calibration.

Whether batteries or chargers, the Entellion range is made to be customised. Options include product labelling and case colours, software setup and SHA-1 algorithmic security, which prevents counterfeit batteries being used under fraudulent warranty claims.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Trends in Medical Technology 2015

Medical technology (MedTech) is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and the latest and most exciting innovations are currently being explored at COMPAMED, the international medical trade show running from 12-14 November in Dusseldorf, Germany. 

By Michele Windsor

We launched our latest smart-battery range at the trade show, providing a versatile solution to the demand for portable medical devices. Here, we explore a few of the latest trends, live from COMPAMED, for the next generation of medical devices.

1. Power and energy requirements on the rise for portable battery-powered MedTech devices
The last decade has borne witness to rapid innovation in the medical market. Devices have become smaller and as a result, smarter and more intricate components are increasingly in demand. However, there is now an increased demand for mobile technology used in hospitals and in the field, including acute ventilators, portable anaesthesia workstations and intra-oral scanners.

2015 will see a trend for portable, battery-powered medical devices delivering high power discharge from batteries with high energy densities used in mobile hospital setups and emergency services use.

2. Security in MedTech is a concern for OEMs' brands and reputations
Copycat batteries are now available at the click of a button. These, often grey market and sometimes outright illegally produced, knockoffs are now spreading via improved logistics and global supply chain networks. The problem is that copycat batteries often mimic big name brands but lack the certification, testing and even vital circuitry that protects lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries from unpredictable failure, overheating and potentially exploding.

Battery original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as well as consumer brands including Nokia and Kodak have already taken action to protect their lucrative aftermarket from reputational damage by introducing security measures such as hologram labels and traceable invisible ink markings on devices.

2015 will see companies push further into securing their products. Accutronics has already made headway into improved security by making available a hardware-embedded software algorithm (SHA-1) which can identify and isolate fake batteries, stopping them from being used in critical-care devices. This also provides better batch traceability and deters fraudulent warranty claims.

3. Western OEMs competing to win market share of premium MedTech in Asia
Until now, the western world has dominated medical technology, with the majority of intellectual property belonging to European and North American companies. Lately there has been a power shift in the MedTech industry and the Asian market, specifically China, is booming, with growth expected to continue over the next few years.

Thanks to a growing Chinese middle class there are hundreds of millions of new patients, creating a significant demand for high tech devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators and insulin pumps.

2015 will see the trend for European and North American MedTech OEMs begin to establish a more permanent presence in Asian and Far Eastern economies to secure and win market share of the premium industry sector.

4. Fringe technologies will start to be used in MedTech
Having already gained traction in the consumer electronics sector, wireless, or inductive charging, to give it its full name, will begin trials in many MedTech devices in 2015. One of the vulnerable areas of rechargeable medical devices to date has been the connection made between the charging port and the mains AC power supply. This can be a source of ingress for dust and water as well as being a haven for bacterial growth.

2015 will see more medical OEMs explore the use of inductive charging to improve device IP (ingress protection) ratings. Introducing fully enclosed and waterproof designs will make it possible to sterilise devices in high pressure hospital autoclaves. The resultant lack of user-serviceable parts will further elongate device lifecycles by the implementation of a return-to-base repair strategy being adopted widely.

5. Anti-microbial surfaces provide an extra line of defence against superbugs
A World Health Organisation report released in April 2014 states that, "this serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future; it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country. Antibiotic resistance–when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections–is now a major threat to public health."

2015 will see OEMs begin to widely consider the role of antimicrobial polymers and coatings for use in device mouldings, casings and on touchable surfaces to minimise the spread of superbugs such as MRSA and other multidrug resistant (MDR) microorganisms.

Visitors to COMPAMED can view and discuss Accutronics' new product range in Hall 8b Stand F30. We look forward to seeing you.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Trust me, I'm a medical device

There is a growing debate surrounding the rise in mobile medical devices. The concern is that the increased reliance on electronic devices to monitor and treat our health becomes dangerous if those very devices become unsafe or unreliable to use. Here, we explore the security and safety of batteries used in our critical medical equipment going forward. 

Medical devices are moving from the once fixed sanctuaries of hospital wards and wandering out into our portable world. The abundance of WiFi, the interconnectivity of electronics and remote information exchange has given rise to the increased portability of the critical devices that monitor our health and provide doctors and paramedics with the tools necessary in delivering flexible and customisable treatment.

However, this rise in portability has created numerous security challenges. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month pushed for improved cyber security when it issued guidelines aimed at helping medical device manufacturers manage cyber security risks as well as "maintain medical device functionality and safety".

The guidelines will decrease the number of incidents of medical devices being hacked, putting the life of patients in jeopardy. Controversies, such as the one reported by former US Vice President Dick Cheney who, fearing assassination, told doctors to turn off the wireless functionality of his pacemaker after it was found that it could be wirelessly hacked, will be avoided.

However, the problem of security is not limited to the wireless capability of devices. A lack of hardware based encryption has already caused widespread concern over the reliability of batteries used in such equipment.

The fact that portable medical devices have to be designed to operate without mains electricity/AC power access necessitates the use of reliable and safe backup-power management systems. Devices such as acute ventilators, portable anaesthesia workstations and intra-oral scanners all need continuous and safe power to protect patient health.

Battery counterfeiting is a problem faced by the medical industry on a scale never before witnessed in the sector. The ready availability of grey market, untested copycat batteries using inferior components means that many life-critical devices used in our hospitals and medical establishments are becoming unreliable and unsafe to use.

Here at Accutronics, we've worked hard to tackle this problem and will be launching a new CMX series of smart batteries and chargers this November. The new range incorporates some innovative features that include SHA-1 hardware encryption, to prevent fake batteries being used with the host device, active and passive protection circuits, accurate fuel gauging, smart charge control and device-to-host communication.

The new batteries can be transported, stored and used safely, without overcharging, over discharging, overloading and short-circuiting. Thermal sensing on the battery triggers alarms if it is too hot; removing it from the circuit if the operating temperature exceeds safe levels.

Smart power management is what makes the CMX range stand out. Whereas other dumb systems that use a fixed-voltage cut off to prevent over-discharge, the intelligent system in the CMX maximises runtime per discharge cycle by telling the host device when to shut down based on highly accurate remaining-capacity prediction.

Visitors to COMPAMED can find out more about how the CMX range will revolutionise the mobile medical market at Accutronics' product launch press conference. The event will be held at 3pm on the 12th of November, 2014 in room 801a off hall 8b at COMPAMED. If you're interested in attending, you can register for free by calling 01785 225416 today.

If you’re unable to make it to Compamed we will also be launching and displaying the new CMX series at ELECTRONICA in Munich between 11th & 14th November in Hall B2 Stand Booth 454.

Friday, 31 October 2014

High-five for high-power

Tackling the rise in demand for portable medical devices delivering high-rate power discharge, battery specialist Accutronics will be launching a new CMX range on 12 November, 2014 at COMPAMED, the international medical trade show held in Dusseldorf, Germany. In anticipation of the launch, we explore the world of portable power.

Speed is of the essence in life-critical applications. Usually, ambulance crews will transport heart-attack patients to the hospital's emergency ward as soon as possible. However, a leading UK Accident & Emergency doctor recently called for patients to be treated by paramedics until their heart starts beating or they die.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Dr Benger says that it, "may be actively harmful" to rush cardiac arrest patients to hospital. Because there is only a short time-window of around 50 minutes before permanent brain damage sets in, it is vital that treatment is provided quickly and effectively.

The last few years have seen an increased demand in mobile technology used in hospitals and in the field. Specialised stroke emergency mobile (STEMO) ambulances fitted with portable CT scanners cut the alarm-to-treatment period to just 25 minutes. Acute ventilators, portable anaesthesia workstations and intra-oral scanners are other examples of medical equipment breaking free from the traditional mains power supply.

However, the challenge with these devices is the high-rate power delivery required to operate reliably. The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa has highlighted the challenge of transporting patients from one part of the world to another. Medical equipment used in the transport of patients must be capable of operating with limited resource for electricity, water and compressed gas.

On September 4, 2014, in response to the Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued guidelines for medical equipment donated for use in the field. The guidelines reinforce the necessity for devices to use high-quality backup power, with current stabilisation, surge protection and uninterrupted power supplies to protect against blackouts and unsustainable mains power.

To overcome these problems, here at Accutronics we've developed a new CMX smart-battery range specifically for high-power applications. Capable of accurate fuel gauging, built to international regulatory standards (IEC62133, UL2054) and offering device-to-host communication for continuous swappable power, the new range will be especially useful in the increasingly dynamic nature of modern hospital care.

Visitors to COMPAMED can find out more about how the CMX range will revolutionise the mobile medical market at Accutronics' product launch press conference. The event will be held at 3pm on the 12th of November, 2014 in room 801a off hall 8b at COMPAMED. Alternatively you can view and discuss the new product range in Hall 8b Stand F30 where Accutronics will be exhibiting. If you're interested in attending, you can register for free by calling 01785 225416 today.

If you’re unable to make it to COMPAMED, we will also be launching and displaying the new CMX series at ELECTRONICA in Munich between 11th and 14th November in Hall B2 Stand Booth 454.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Rechargeable Batteries for Medical Devices

Portable medical devices have benefitted hugely from various advanced technologies which were initially developed for consumer electronic devices such as notebook computers and smart phones, when coupled with these enabling technologies they are being developed faster, made easier to use, and now perform more reliably than ever before.
One continuing complaint from consumers is ‘battery life’. If the battery in your notebook computer runs out while you are writing a report it is annoying, if the battery fuel gauge on your smartphone jumps instantly from 25% to 0% and then shuts off while you are on the train home then it can be frustrating – but in either case no real harm is done. However if a doctor in a hospital is transporting a patient connected to a battery powered portable ventilator or, similarly a paramedic is working on a patient in the street using a battery powered aspirator, then the batteries used to power the portable medical equipment must be completely reliable or patient care could be at risk.  These batteries must work each and every time and never let the medical professional, or their patients down when they need them most.

Regulatory Framework
Until recently the regulatory framework surrounding the use of batteries in medical devices was poor. There was little or no regulation regarding testing requirements for batteries and it was down to the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and the battery integrator to work out an agreed quality, safety and performance standard for the battery.
Today, the medical device standard IEC60601-1 (3rd edition) requires that most battery powered medical devices have their batteries (and the cells within them) tested to IEC62133, which has the catchy title of “Secondary cells and batteries containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolytes - Safety requirements for portable sealed secondary cells, and for batteries made from them, for use in portable applications”. In addition, Lithium ion batteries (and the cells within them) must be tested to ensure they are safe for transport, and of course, the relevant electromagnetic compatibility standards must be met to allow for CE marking.
Of course, the long arm approach of purchasing a product that has met the relevant regulatory standards does not alone ensure a reliable and safe product.  The device OEM has the responsibility of selecting and partnering with a battery integrator who has a proven track record in the development and manufacture of batteries for medical devices – ones that are also certified to ISO13485 demonstrate they have the correct quality management procedures in place and will furthermore strive for the continuous improvements required for the medical device industry.
The need for a professional battery Integrator
A good battery integrator will advise the OEM on the correct battery chemistry to use.  Most OEM customers would simply specify ‘Lithium Ion’ because of its high gravimetric and volumetric energy density, but few realise the term is actually a catch-all for a wide number of different cells types that encompass different cell chemistries, cell manufacturing techniques and physical form factors. Selecting the wrong cell type can be very costly indeed and can result in poor performance, customer dissatisfaction or even product recall.
The Smart Battery
Understanding how much runtime remains is vital for users of portable medical devices. If a medical professional cannot rely on the battery fuel gauge then they lose confidence in their ability to use the device away from the AC supply and suffer from runtime anxiety – the worry that they cannot complete their task before the battery energy is depleted.
A good battery integrator will gain a deep understanding of how the medical device will be used and design an electronic fuel gauge system into the battery which constantly tracks the charge, rest and discharge activity. These electronic systems factor-in the prevailing environmental conditions and even the age of the battery to provide a runtime prediction which can be as accurate as ±1%. This runtime prediction is automatically communicated to the device which then displays it in a format the user can easily understand – the battery will even communicate warnings when runtime becomes critical so the user can take action and charge the battery or replace it with another.
As safety is paramount, a battery integrator will include active protection circuitry into the design. These protection circuits monitor the voltage of each cell in the battery and prevent its charge or discharge if one or more cells is in an over-charge or over-discharge condition. The battery is also protected against over temperature conditions or if discharge currents exceed predetermined levels. Industry best practise dictates that secondary over-charge protection is included when designing Lithium Ion batteries to prevent them from becoming unsafe should both the charger and active protection fail. Secondary over-charge protection activates a non-resettable fuse, permanently preventing further operation.
The market for portable medical devices is growing rapidly and the increased regulation surrounding the batteries that power them can only help to ensure the devices are safer and more reliable than in the past.
Battery integrators continue to play an important part in providing OEMs with the best battery technology available which allows medical professionals to take their equipment and skills closer to their patients where they can make a real difference - after all, the outcome for the patient is what matters most.

Neil Oliver
Technical Marketing Manager

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Sichere CMX-Serie bald verfügbar

~ Akkuhersteller sorgt auf medizinischem Markt für Aufsehen ~

Der in Großbritannien ansässige Akkuhersteller Accutronics wird im Herbst dieses Jahres mit der Einführung seiner neuen Akkuserie auf der COMPAMED in Düsseldorf im medizinischen Bereich neue Impulse setzen. Die CMX-Serie wird bei einer Pressekonferenz auf der COMAPMED, der internationalen Fachmesse für medizinische Hightech-Lösungen, am 12. November 2014 um 15:00 Uhr in Raum 801b bei Messehalle 8b, präsentiert.

Auf dem sich schnell verändernden medizinischen Markt stehen Entwicklungen wie Portabilität und Einsatz von Geräten ohne Netzstrom durch Ärzte und Notdienste derzeit im Mittelpunkt.

Die COMPAMED, die führenden Fachmesse der medizinischen Branche, ist der passende Ort für die Einführung der CMX-Serie. In zwei Messehallen mit insgesamt 10.000 m² Standfläche werden 700 Aussteller aus 40 Ländern vertreten sein. Die Veranstaltung deckt das komplette Spektrum von medizinischen Produkten ab, von Design und Entwicklung bis hin zur Herstellung und Wartung. Besucher können auf der Messe mit Produktionsleitern, Ingenieuren, Konstrukteuren, Forschungsmitarbeitern und führenden Persönlichkeiten aus der Branche zusammentreffen.

Accutronics stellt in Haupthalle 8b auf Stand F30 aus. Das in Großbritannien ansässige Unternehmen spezialisiert sich auf Entwurf, Entwicklung und Herstellung von intelligenten Akkus für Branchen wie Medizin, Verteidigung, Industrie sowie den Markt der portablen Handheld-Geräte.

„So viel sei verraten: Die neue CMX-Serie vereint hohe Spannung, hohe Leistung und intelligente Akkufunktionen in einem Paket, das über die strengen behördlichen Anforderungen hinausgeht, die an für medizinische Geräte bestimmte Akkus gestellt werden,“ erklärte Rob Phillips, Managing Director von Accutronics. „Der Markt der medizinischen Geräte verzeichnet zurzeit ein rasantes Wachstum und die CMX-Serie bietet enorme Möglichkeiten für OEMs, die Geräte für lebenskritische Anwendungen entwickeln.“

Die Einführung wird bei Erstausrüstern (OEMs) im medizinischen Bereich auf großes Interesse stoßen. Accutronics hat in der Vergangenheit bereits ähnlich innovative neue Produkte für diesen Markt präsentiert. Hierzu gehörten u. a. ein kreditkartengroßer Akku für portable medizinische Handheld-Geräte und ein Multi-Akkusystem zur Stromversorgung von medizinischen Gerätewagen. Alle Produkte sind Teil zur anpassbaren Entellion-Serie, die auch algorithmenbasierte Sicherheitsfunktionen bietet, um die Verwendung unautorisierter Nachahmer-Akkus zu verhindern.

Monday, 1 September 2014

FAA approves lithium-ion batteries for A350 Airbus aircraft

Excellent news from Airbus  - they have approval from the FAA to use Lithium Ion batteries on their A350 aircraft. There was concern that the incidents experienced by Boeing would forever prevent Airbus from moving forward with the modernisation of their aircraft battery platforms.


The weight and power advantages of Lithium ion batteries in aircraft are so huge compared with traditional Nickel based technologies that this is the only sensible way forward. It looks like Airbus have learnt the lessons from Boeing and can always revert back to Nickel Cadmium if they really have to - but I don't see that being a problem if they have they have done their homework...

Read the article in ESP here...

Neil Oliver

Secure CMX coming soon

~ Battery firm set to make waves in the medical market ~

UK based battery firm Accutronics is set to vitalise the medical market this autumn when it launches its next range of batteries at COMPAMED in Dusseldorf. The CMX series will be launched at a press conference at COMPAMED, the international trade fair for high tech medical solutions on the 12th of November 2014 at 3pm in Room 801b just off hall 8b.

The medical market is currently undergoing rapid evolution with the likes of portability and freedom from AC power taking centre stage for doctors and emergency services.

COMPAMED is a fitting location for the CMX launch; a leading trade fair for the medical industry, it hosts 700 exhibitors from 40 countries in two exhibition halls taking up 10,000sqm of floor space. The event covers the complete spectrum of medical products, from design and development to manufacturing and servicing. Visitors can expect to network with fellow production managers, engineers, designers, researchers and business leaders from across the sector.

Accutronics will be exhibiting in the main hall 8b on stand F30. The UK based battery firm specialises in the design, development and manufacture of smart batteries for industries ranging from medical, defence, industrial and for the portable, handheld market.

"Without giving too much away, the CMX series launch brings together high voltage, high power and smart battery functionality in a package that exceeds the strict regulatory requirements for batteries used in medical devices," said Rob Phillips, managing director of Accutronics. "The medical device market is currently undergoing rapid growth and the CMX series offers tremendous opportunities for OEMs developing devices for life critical applications."

The launch will spark interest from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the medical sector, which is already familiar with similarly innovative launches from Accutronics in the past. Previous products include a credit card sized battery for handheld portable medical devices and a multi-battery system for powering medical carts. All are part of the customisable Entellion range, which also offers algorithmic security to prevent the use of unauthorised, copycat batteries.

Monday, 30 June 2014

A designer's headache

At the end of March, Sataya Nadella the new CEO of Microsoft gave his first keynote speech only 52 days into his new role. Speaking at the company’s Cloud conference, also dubbed the ‘Office for iPad’ event, he expressed Microsoft’s vision for mobile and cloud computing moving forward. Here, Neil Oliver of Accutronics considers the implications of advancing consumer technology for designers of medical devices that rely on battery size reduction.

It was a bold but necessary step. Microsoft’s ethos of traditional fixed-unit computing has struggled to compete in recent years with the sheer intensity of competition offered up by the likes of Apple, Samsung and Google. Rapid innovation of powerful mobile operating systems, that offer more portable productivity solutions, has left the software giant reeling.

The trend towards mobile devices is nothing new. Having experienced a seismic shift, the industry has gained momentum in cycles over the last twenty years. We have now reached a point where mobile users outnumber desktops, laptops and Internet users, combined.

However, there are drawbacks to such fast paced innovation. The traditionally linear product development has morphed into a vicious cycle of ever increasing consumer expectations, in conjunction with an increased competition to reduce the time to market for each device-iteration.

This has left designer’s scratching their heads. Design objectives that seemed impossible to implement only a few years ago, are now the norm. As a result, user expectations are getting higher and higher. As customers we want bigger screen sizes, with higher resolutions, packed into thinner, more lightweight devices, with lower price points and long run times.

This is as true in the world of professional batteries for medical devices as it is the consumer environment.

In a typical product development lifecycle, industrial and product design consultants are drafted in at the concept stages. The consultants usually specialise in areas such as ergonomics, electronics or even manufacturing readiness. The power solution, in the form of the battery design, is often an afterthought in this process.

Because ergonomics and manufacturing have taken a front and centre seat in meeting consumer requirements, the consultants brought in, don’t always have the most up to date skills in battery technology. It is for this reason that, whilst device design has moved forward, design engineers often struggle to meet the ever tightening requirements for batteries.

However, by relegating the battery solution to an afterthought we risk limiting the options available to designers, making a battery that is truly fit for purpose less likely. By limiting the volume, thickness, weight and material availability, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) may have to compromise in other areas. These variables can directly influence factors such as cell selection, robustness, runtime, efficient operating temperatures, reliability and total life.

Not considering these issues at the design stage could spell disaster in the long term.

The first consequence is as a result of shaving millimetres off the device and thus battery size. For instance, single-cell Lithium-ion batteries in consumer devices such as phones and tablets are being encased in increasingly thinner packaging. This means that accidentally dropping your phone could rupture the battery casing, causing a short circuit. Although extremely unlikely, this could cause the battery to heat up and even explode.

Although an extreme example, a more likely consequence in a medical device would be an inefficient discharge rate at low operating temperatures. Medical devices used outdoors by rescue teams are a prime example. Whilst OEMs seek to market their devices as capable of operating from -20 to +60 degrees Celsius, designers struggle to optimise batteries to perform effectively at both extremes.

For example, a battery optimised for low temperature discharge, will struggle to maintain efficiency in high temperatures, and vice versa. This also means that accurate fuel gauging becomes difficult; creating a potentially hazardous problem for medical and life-critical devices.

Another challenge is device weight. The consequence of pursuing the thinnest and lightest device is that OEMs ultimately compromise on run-time and battery lifetime.

A battery’s energy density is directly proportional to its volume and mass. By reducing the weight of the battery, and subsequently its energy, the runtime is lowered. Even Lithium-ion batteries, which offer the highest energy density commercially available, will struggle to cater for customer expectations in this environment.

Here at Accutronics, we’ve found that the easiest solution to overcome these problems is to work with OEMs at the concept stages to build in requirements for reliable and robust battery design. This helps to achieve a good balance between innovative design and battery performance. It’s a process that market leaders like Microsoft would surely applaud, particularly given Nadella’s focus on mobile first.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Laddare ger bärbar strömförsörjning ett lyft

~ Accutronics lanserar Entellion-laddaren för batterier av kreditkortsstorlek på den globala marknaden ~

Den internationella batteritillverkaren Accutronics har lanserat en innovativ skrivbordsladdare i sitt banbrytande sortiment av batterier av kreditkortsstorlek. Den nya laddaren heter CX6100 och är det perfekta tillbehöret för att ladda Entellion-batterier av kreditkortsstorlek av modell CC2300 och CC3800. 

Denna snabba laddare har plats för ett batteri och kan tack vare den väggmonterade strömförsörjningen användas i hela världen. Den levereras komplett med flera olika utbytbara AC-stift. Batterier av kreditkortsstorlek och tillhörande laddare är förarbetade och förkvalificerade och får därför ut enhets-OEM:er på marknaden snabbare.

Accutronics sortiment av batterier av kreditkortsstorlek ger OEM:er uppladdningsbara litiumjonbatterier av högsta kvalitet som är klara att användas till bärbara elektroniska enheter och elektronisk utrustning som placeras på personer.

CX6100 laddar ett CC2300-batteri på ungefär 3,5 timmar och ett CC3800-batteri på ungefär 5,5 timmar. På laddaren finns LED-lampor som anger laddningsstatus. Den har en AC/DC-strömkontakt samt adaptrar för USA, Europa, Storbritannien, Australien och Kina.

”Liksom med alla våra produkter har vi utformat den här laddaren särskilt med OEM:er i åtanke”, säger Rob Phillips, VD för Accutronics. ”Det faktum att vi kan ta fram särskilt anpassade versioner för våra kunder utan att någon egentlig extra kostnad uppkommer visar att vi förstår OEM:ernas behov mycket väl. När vi har fastslagit den specialanpassade utformningen tillsammans med kunden ändrar vi inte batteriets eller laddarens passform, utformning eller funktion utan att först samråda med kunden och få dennes tillåtelse. Detta försäkrar OEM:en om att vår produkt alltid kommer att vara kompatibel med deras enhet och att inga kvalitetsproblem eller problem med efterlevnad av nationell lagstiftning kommer att uppstå.

De batterier av kreditkortsstorlek som enheten kan ladda har testats i enlighet med och uppfyller kraven i FN:s modellregelverk och handbok för provning och kriterier (ST/SG/AC.10.11 § 38.3), vilket innebär att dessa kan transporteras utan några ytterligare tester eller kostnader.

Batterierna uppfyller även kraven i IEC 62133:2002 och ett CB-testcertifikat finns tillgängligt på begäran. Det blir allt vanligare att uppfyllelse av denna standard krävs, och det är redan obligatoriskt för medicinsk utrustning som har certifierats enligt SS-EN 60601-1, utg. 3.

Själva laddaren har certifierats enligt UL60950-1 och är CE-märkt. Precis som med Accutronics batterier av kreditkortsstorlek kan CX6100 modifieras för att uppfylla specifika OEM-krav. Standardutförandet är i coolt grått, men fodralets färg, märkningen och emballaget kan alla specialanpassas.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Ladegerät für mobilen Strom

~ Accutronics führt weltweit Ladegerät für kreditkartengroße Entellion-Akkus ein ~

Der internationale Akkuhersteller Accutronics hat ein innovatives Tischladegerät für seine bahnbrechende Palette an Akkus im Kreditkartenformat eingeführt. Das neue Ladegerät, das CX6100, ist das ideale Zubehör zum Aufladen der kreditkartengroßen Akkus Entellion CC2300 und CC3800. 

Das Tischladegerät mit Einzelschacht verfügt über eine Schnellladefunktion und kann dank seines an der Wand anbringbaren Netzteils mit mehreren austauschbaren Steckmodulen auf der ganzen Welt verwendet werden. Die kreditkartengroßen Akkus und Ladegeräte sind komplett vorbereitet und einsatzbereit und verhelfen somit OEM-Herstellern zu einer schnelleren Markteinführung.

Die Akku-Palette im Kreditkartenformat von Accutronics bietet OEM-Herstellern professionelle wiederaufladbare Endverbraucher-Lithium-Ion Akkus für portable und tragbare Elektrogeräte.

Das CX6100 lädt einen CC2300-Akku in ungefähr 3,5 Stunden und einen CC3800-Akku in ungefähr 5,5 Stunden auf. LEDs auf dem Ladegerät zeigen den Ladestatus an. Es ist mit einem Netzteil ausgestattet, dem Steckeradapter für die USA, Europa, das Vereinigte Königreich, Australien und China beigelegt sind.

„Wie alle unsere Produkte haben wir auch dieses Ladegerät speziell für OEM-Hersteller entwickelt“, erklärt Rob Phillips, Geschäftsleiter von Accutronics. „Ein gutes Beispiel für unser Verständnis der Anforderungen von OEMs ist unsere Fähigkeit, für Kunden maßgeschneiderte Versionen bei sehr geringen Zusatzkosten herzustellen. Sobald das individuelle Design vereinbart wurde, werden wir die Passform, das Design und die Funktion des Akkus oder des Ladegeräts ohne Wissen und ohne ausdrückliche Erlaubnis des Kunden nicht verändern. Dies schenkt dem OEM das Vertrauen, dass er stets über Kompatibilität mit seinem Gerät verfügt und Schwierigkeiten mit gesetzlichen Vorgaben sowie Qualitätsprobleme vermieden werden.“

Die Akkus im Kreditkartenformat, die mit dem Gerät aufgeladen werden können, wurden hinsichtlich der Anforderungen der „Model Regulations“ der UN und des „Manual of Tests and Criteria“ (ST/SG/AC.10.11 §38.3) geprüft, d. h. sie können ohne weitere Tests oder Ausgaben zum Transport angeboten werden.

Die Akku-Palette erfüllt ebenfalls die Anforderungen von IEC62133:2002 und es ist ein CB-Testzertifikat auf Anfrage erhältlich. Die Einhaltung dieses Standards wird zukünftig für viele Geräte Voraussetzung sein und ist bereits für medizinische Geräte, die die Norm EN60601-1 (3. Edition) erfüllen, obligatorisch.

Das Ladegerät selbst erfüllt die Norm UL60950-1 und verfügt über eine CE-Kennzeichnung. Ebenso wie die kreditkartengroßen Akkus von Accutronics kann das CX6100 an bestimmte OEM-Anforderungen angepasst werden. Es ist standardmäßig grau, doch die Gehäusefarbe, Beschriftung und Verpackung können alle abgeändert werden.

L'alimentation portable au format carte de crédit

~ Accutronics lance son chargeur de batterie au format carte de crédit à l'échelle mondiale ~

Le fabricant international de batteries Accutronics a lancé un chargeur de bureau novateur pour sa gamme de batteries au format carte de crédit. Ce nouveau chargeur baptisé CX6100 est l'accessoire parfait pour charger les batteries au format carte de crédit Entellion CC2300 et CC3800. 

Le chargeur à baie unique offre une capacité de charge rapide et peut être utilisé dans le monde entier, grâce à son alimentation murale fournie avec différentes lames de courant alternatif interchangeables. Les batteries au format carte de crédit et leurs chargeurs sont préassemblés qualifiés et, par conséquent, permettent le lancement plus rapide des produits sur le marché par les OEM.

La gamme de batteries au format carte de crédit d'Accutronics fournit aux OEM une série de dispositifs professionnels lithium-ion rechargeables, largement disponibles dans le commerce, pour leurs appareils électroniques portables et portatifs.

Le CX6100 recharge une batterie CC2300 en 3,5 heures environ, et une batterie CC3800 en 5,5 heures environ. Les diodes d'état du chargeur indiquent le niveau de charge de la batterie. Son alimentation CA/CC est fournie avec des adaptateurs pour les États-Unis, l'Europe, le Royaume-Uni, l'Australie et la Chine.

« À l'instar de tous nos produits, ce chargeur a été conçu spécifiquement pour les OEMs », explique Rob Phillips, directeur général d'Accutronics. « Nous comprenons bien les besoins des OEM, et c'est pourquoi nous sommes en mesure de produire des versions personnalisées de nos produits moyennant un supplément minime. Une fois la conception personnalisée acceptée, nous ne modifions plus la batterie ni le chargeur, ni dans leur forme ni dans leur fonction, sans en informer notre client préalablement ni sans sa permission expresse. De cette manière, l'OEM sait que les produits seront parfaitement compatibles avec ses appareils et cela prévient tout problème concernant la qualité ou le respect des normes. »

Les batteries au format carte de crédit correspondant aux chargeurs ont été testées pour satisfaire aux Recommandations relatives au transport des marchandises dangereuses des Nations Unies et au Manuel d’épreuves et de critères (ST/SG/AC.10.11 §38.3), ce qui signifie qu'elles sont prêtes pour le transport, sans tests ni dépenses supplémentaires.

Ces batteries satisfont également aux exigences CEI 62133:2002 et le certificat de test CB est disponible sur demande. La conformité à cette norme devient essentielle pour de nombreux appareils et est déjà obligatoire pour les instruments médicaux certifiés EN 60601-1, 3e édition.

Le chargeur lui-même est certifié UL 60950-1 et porte le label CE. Comme pour les batteries au format carte de crédit d'Accutronics, le CX6100 peut être modifié pour répondre aux exigences spécifiques des OEM. Le boîtier de série est proposé dans un coloris gris clair, mais ce coloris, l'étiquetage et l'emballage peuvent être personnalisés selon les besoins du client.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Portable power gets charged over charger

~ Accutronics launches Entellion credit card battery charger across the globe ~

International battery manufacturer Accutronics has launched an innovative desktop charger for its groundbreaking credit card battery range. The new charger, called the CX6100, is the perfect accessory for charging Entellion CC2300 and CC3800 credit card batteries. 

The single bay desktop charger has a rapid charge capability and can be used around the world, thanks to its wall mounted power supply, which is delivered complete with various interchangeable AC blades. Credit card batteries and chargers are pre-tooled and pre-qualified and therefore get device OEMs to market faster.

Accutronics’ credit card battery range provides OEMs with a rechargeable range of off-the-shelf Lithium Ion professional batteries for portable and wearable electronic devices.

The CX6100 charges a CC2300 battery in around 3.5 hours and a CC3800 battery in around 5.5 hours. LED indicators on the charger provide the charge status. Powered by an AC/DC power supply, it comes with adapters for use in the USA, Europe, UK, Australia and China.

“As with all our products, we’ve designed this charger specifically for OEMs,” explained Accutronics managing director Rob Phillips. “A good example of our understanding of an OEM’s needs is our ability to produce customised versions for customers with very little additional cost. Once the custom design is agreed we will not modify the fit, form or function of the battery or charger without our customer’s prior knowledge and express permission. This gives the OEM the confidence that it will always remain compliant with their device and prevents any regulatory compliance or quality issues.”

The range of credit card batteries that the unit charges have been tested to and meet the requirements of the UN Model Regulations and the Manual of Tests and Criteria (ST/SG/AC.10.11 §38.3), meaning they are ready to be offered for transportation without any additional testing or expense.

The battery range also meets the requirements of IEC62133:2002 and a CB test certificate is available upon request. Compliance to this standard is becoming a requirement for many devices and is already mandatory for medical instruments certified to EN60601-1 third edition.

The charger itself is certified to UL60950-1 and is CE marked. As with Accutronics’ credit card batteries, the CX6100 can be modified to meet specific OEM requirements. Supplied in cool gray as standard, the case colour, labelling and packaging can all be customised.

Friday, 23 May 2014

MD&M East gets charged over charger

~ Accutronics launches Entellion credit card battery charger at East Coast’s largest medical technology show ~

International battery manufacturer Accutronics will join thousands of medical industry suppliers and service providers at MD&M East, on June 10-12 in New York, where the British company will launch an innovative desktop charger for its groundbreaking credit card battery range. 

The new charger, called the CX6100, is the perfect accessory for charging Entellion CC2300 and CC3800 credit card batteries. The single bay desktop charger has a rapid charge capability and can be used around the world, thanks to its wall mounted power supply, which is delivered complete with various interchangeable AC blades. Credit card batteries and chargers are pre-tooled and pre-qualified and therefore get device OEMs to market faster.

Accutronics’ credit card battery range provides OEMs with a rechargeable range of off-the-rack Lithium Ion professional batteries for portable and wearable medical devices.

The CX6100 charges a CC2300 battery in around 3.5 hours and a CC3800 battery in around 5.5 hours. LED indicators on the charger provide the charge status. Powered by an AC/DC power supply, it comes with adapters for use in the USA, Europe, UK, Australia and China.

“As with all our products, we’ve designed this charger specifically for OEMs,” explained Accutronics managing director Rob Phillips. “A good example of our understanding of an OEM’s needs is our ability to produce customised versions for customers with very little additional cost. Once the custom design is agreed we will not modify the fit, form or function of the battery or charger without our customer’s prior knowledge and express permission. This gives the OEM the confidence that it will always remain compliant with their device and prevents any regulatory compliance or quality issues.”

The range of credit card batteries that the unit charges have been tested to and meet the requirements of the UN Model Regulations and the Manual of Tests and Criteria (ST/SG/AC.10.11 §38.3), meaning they are ready to be offered for transportation without any additional testing or expense.

The battery range also meets the requirements of IEC62133:2002 and a CB test certificate is available upon request. Compliance to this standard is becoming a requirement for many devices and is already mandatory for medical instruments certified to EN60601-1 third edition.

The charger itself is certified to UL60950-1 and is CE marked. As with Accutronics’ credit card batteries, the CX6100 can be modified to meet specific OEM requirements. Supplied in cool gray as standard, the case colour, labelling and packaging can all be customised.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Cell Balancing: Better Safe than Sorry

Click here to read an excellent blog post from Texas Instruments on cell balancing - this is something that Accutronics fully support and implement on all of our new Lithium ion designs. It seems that there are still some folks who think it is not nesessary. If you are one of them then please read the TI Blog and feel free to drop me an email to discuss your battery requirements..


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Things you thought you knew about batteries

They are the most readily available source of power for our army of portable devices. They provide us with precious energy, right down to the last milliamp. They are invariably unavailable in your local garage on Christmas Day. I am, of course, talking about batteries. But what do we really know about the professional application of this most ubiquitous of products? Here we bust some myths and shed some light on the most commonly held misconceptions about batteries in professional applications.

1. I need to fully charge my new device before first usage - FALSE

First you spend countless hours in the shops hunting down the perfect device, it may be a new laptop, phone or camera. You rush home, rip away the packaging like an excited child on Christmas morning and turn on your device, only to find instructions telling you to 'ensure the battery is fully charged before first use'.

The same is true in many professional applications, with even experienced end users still believing they need to charge the device fully before first use.

Whilst this was true once, the advent of modern Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technology means that devices can be used straight away without harming the battery.

So why do many manufacturers still print the warning? It seems this is a marketing and reputation management tactic more than anything else; to ensure that customers have the most engaging first interaction. That wouldn't be the case if your battery died within five minutes of use!

However, the nature of Li-ion batteries means that certain precautions do have to be taken during the shipping process. Li-ion batteries must retain a minimum charge to prevent them becoming unstable. When not in use, the onboard microcontroller, which itself consumes around 5% of charge per year, ensures that the battery is turned off before complete discharge.

Conversely, shipping a fully charged battery can also be dangerous as such a high volume of energy is not safe during transit or good for battery cells. This is why most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) charge batteries to around 50% for transit.

Here at Accutronics, we use a special sleep-mode for shipping. This ensures that the battery exhibits negligible power consumption during shipping, recovering full functionality when first powered on. If you want to know more about it, get in touch.

Accutronics' credit card battery provides vital power to portable medical devices

2. I must discharge my battery fully, before recharging each time - FALSE

This myth was a reality in the 70s and 80s when Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) and Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries were commonly used. The active materials used in these batteries meant that, when put on charge, a cell's capacity was limited to the previous discharge level. This problem was overcome by fully discharging the battery each time.

The memory effect has been all but eradicated with the use of modern Li-ion batteries, which should only be discharged to around 20% before being recharged.

This doesn't mean that batteries don't degrade over time. A typical Li-ion battery has around 300-500 optimum cycles before it starts to lose capacity. However it is not necessary to start each cycle after a full charge and discharge. A cycle can equally go between half full and half empty; how's that for philosophical battery debate!

So, it turns out that some of the things you thought you knew about batteries were false and some of those myths actually create more questions than they provide answers. If you want to really get to the bottom of how to charge, transport and manage batteries in professional and medical applications, get in touch. We have a whole team of myth busters ready to help.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Erneute Spitzenleistung des Akkuherstellers

~ Accutronics erhält Zertifizierung nach Qualitätsnorm ISO 13845:2003 ~

Der internationale Akkuhersteller Accutronics wurde im Februar 2014 mit dem Qualitätssiegel ISO 13845:2003 ausgezeichnet. Das Unternehmen hat die Zertifizierung für das Design, die Herstellung und das Testen von Akkuprodukten und Akkuladegeräten für medizinische Geräte erhalten.

ISO 13485:2003 basiert auf der Qualitätsnorm ISO 9001, deren Anforderungen Accutronics bereits seit mehreren Jahren erfüllt. ISO 13485:2003 ist jedoch weitaus spezialisierter und auf die Herstellung medizinischer Geräte ausgerichtet.

Die neue Norm legt die Anforderungen an ein Qualitätsmanagementsystem fest. Hersteller müssen nachweisen, dass ihre medizinischen Komponenten die Anforderungen der zuständigen Behörden und der Kunden erfüllen.

ISO 13485:2003 enthält eine zusätzliche Verpflichtung zur kontinuierlichen Verbesserung, die über die Anforderungen von ISO 9001 hinausgeht. Die Hauptunterschiede sind die Design- und Rückverfolgbarkeitsverfahren sowie ein zusätzlicher Schwerpunkt auf Lieferantenaudits.

„Wir setzen uns unermüdlich dafür ein, neue und verbesserte Akkus für medizinische Geräte zu entwickeln, die in Krankenhäusern auf der ganzen Welt dazu beitragen, Leben zu retten,“ erklärte Matt Simcock, Qualitätsmanager bei Accutronics. „Dieses Gütesiegel ist bei der Zusammenarbeit mit OEMs ein wichtiges Instrument zur Vertrauensbildung.“

„Wir haben vor zwölf Monaten begonnen, uns auf die Zertifizierung gemäß ISO 13845:2003 vorzubereiten. Am Anfang war es für uns etwas Neues, aber dank der Unterstützung unseres starken Teams konnten wir uns innerhalb äußerst kurzer Zeit zertifizieren lassen.“

„Als Qualitätsmanager hatte ich die Aufgabe, Verfahren für die Design- und Herstellungsteams zu erstellen. Außerdem musste ich mich mit Rückverfolgbarkeit und Nachhaltigkeit befassen. Es ist ein großartiges Endergebnis, mit dem ich wirklich sehr zufrieden bin,“ so Matt Simcock.

„Der Erhalt des Gütesiegels ISO 13845:2003 für die Qualität unserer Design-, Herstellungs- und Testverfahren hat allen Mitarbeitern des Unternehmens immensen Auftrieb gegeben,“ kommentierte Rob Phillips, Managing Director von Accutronics. „Die neuen Verfahren und internen Prüfungen haben zu schlankeren Herstellungsverfahren geführt, und wir sehen jetzt auch erste Auswirkungen auf unseren Gewinn. Darüber hinaus befinden wir uns jetzt bei Ausschreibungen und Verkaufsgesprächen in einer noch besseren Position,“ meinte er abschließend.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Juiced-up at Med-Tech

It's that time of year again, when Accutronics helps the medical device industry get juiced-up on the latest developments in battery design, development and manufacturing. We are, of course, exhibiting today at Med-Tech Innovation 2014. The conference, which runs from 2-3 April at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, showcases the best in medical device manufacturing. So make sure to come along to stand 19 to find out more!

Now in its second year, Med-Tech Innovation Expo caters for all areas of the industry, from components, consultancy and design, to manufacturing, materials and testing. This year's event has been host to some great speakers; notable presentations include, managing challenges in the supply chain, human factors in design, manufacturability and the business benefits of apprentices.

One of the events that really got our own juices flowing was the human factors presentation on day one. In it Matthew Theobald spoke about collaborative design, where user feedback is increasingly influencing design earlier in the process. This is now being used by regulatory authorities such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a benchmark for safe development going forward.

Today’s presentation by Dr. Phil Breedon of Nottingham Trent University, which discussed how Medical Technologies are transforming lives, was also hugely informative.

As well as listening to the speakers, we're also exhibiting a really exciting range of batteries and services. Accupro is our custom battery and charger design and manufacturing service, which integrates seamlessly into OEM device development programmes. To ensure that custom solutions are delivered on time and on budget, we use our well-proven project management process.

Our Accupro service is great when standard off-the-shelf batteries will not suffice. Instead of instigating a costly product design modification process, we can work closely with you to provide a low weight, minimal volume and easy to use battery solution.

If your needs revolve around smart, innovative and portable power products, our Entellion range is for you. Designed, developed and manufactured at Accutronics, this group of products is certified to the highest European standards and is available off-the-shelf or customised for your application.

First in the range is the Entellion credit card battery, which is ideal for portable and wearable medical device applications. Next we have the Entellion Intelligent Power Vault, a Lithium-ion multi-battery power system for more demanding industrial applications. Last, but not least, is our Entellion VR Series, a high energy smart battery, which offers accurate fuel gauging for mission critical electronic devices.

So, no matter whether you looking to get your own creative juices flowing with a conversation about your next application or whether you want to juice up your products with one of our off the shelf power sources, come along to stand 19. You are always welcome.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Battery firm makes excellence a habit

~ Accutronics receives ISO 13845: 2003 quality standard ~ 

In February, international battery manufacturer Accutronics was awarded the ISO 13845: 2003 quality standard. The company received the accreditation for the design, manufacturing and testing of battery products and battery chargers for medical devices. 

ISO 13485:2003 is underpinned by the ISO9001 quality standard, which Accutronics has had in place for several years. However, it is significantly more specialised and dedicated to the medical device manufacturing sector.

The new standard specifies requirements for a quality management system in which manufacturers have to demonstrate the provision of medical components that satisfy customer and regulatory requirements.

ISO 13485:2003 details additional commitment to continual improvement, above and beyond the requirements of ISO 9001. The major differences are the design and traceability procedures as well as an additional focus on supplier audits.

“We’ve been working tirelessly to develop new and improved batteries for medical devices that help save lives in hospitals across the globe,” explained Matt Simcock, quality manager at Accutronics. “However, for some of the OEMs we work with, this stamp of approval is essential for building trust.

“This caused us to start working towards ISO 13845: 2003 twelve months ago. It was new to us in the beginning, but thanks to the strong and supportive team we have here, we achieved the accreditation in a very short period of time.

“As quality manager I had the task of creating procedures for the design and manufacturing teams and looking at traceability and sustainability issues. The end result is remarkable and I couldn’t be happier,” he enthused.

“Gaining the ISO 13845: 2003 stamp for the quality of our designs, manufacturing and testing procedures was a huge boost for everyone in the company,” said Rob Phillips managing director of Accutronics. “The new procedures and internal audits have made us a leaner manufacturer and we’re starting to see the results on the bottom line. What’s more, we are now in an even better position during tenders and sales meetings,” he concluded.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

What are Smart Batteries & how can they be of use to your portable device?

Rob Phillips, CEO of battery consultancy Accutronics, gives a brief overview of Smart Batteries, Smart Chargers, and the System Management Bus, and their advantages as power solutions for portable products…

Batteries can be viewed as living beings with their environment and treatment directly affecting their performance. Batteries that are overcharged or exist at elevated temperatures often exhibit a shortened life, whilst those that are treated carefully can provide many years of maintenance free performance.

In order to charge batteries appropriately, it is necessary to have a method of understanding the charge state of the battery. This has to be balanced with extracting the maximum discharge and lifetime from the battery, so as to also offer value-for-money. 

Appropriate battery specification is therefore of paramount importance to portable device designers. However one type of battery solution; smart batteries, which have been on the market for a while now, can radically simplify the process of battery specification, while dramatically reducing risk.

What are smart batteries, and how do they work?
Smart batteries are intended to be integrated into portable devices as part of a wider ‘smart power management system’. This will typically include a smart battery, a smart charger, and a systems management bus (SMBus) for communicating between the different elements.
In a traditional portable device setup, any battery featured is simply a ‘dumb’, chemical power cell. Battery metering, assessment of remaining capacity, and any decisions taken regarding power usage, are informed entirely by the readings ‘taken’ by the host device. Such readings are largely guesswork, and are typically based on the amount of voltage passing from the battery through the host device, or, (less accurately), through readings taken through a Coulomb Counter in the host.
In a smart power management system, however, the battery is able to ‘tell’ the host, with a high degree of accuracy, how much power it has left, and how it wishes to be charged.
In general, the battery, smart charger and the host device communicate with each other to maximise product safety, efficiency and performance. For example, smart batteries only request charge when they require it, rather than placing a constant, steady ‘drain’ on the host system. Hence smart batteries charge more efficiently.
Smart batteries can also maximise the ‘runtime per discharge’ cycle by telling their host device when to shut down based on its own assessment of its remaining capacity. This method is vastly superior to ‘dumb’ systems that use a fixed voltage cut-off.
Hence host portable systems that use smart battery technology can provide accurate, meaningful runtime information to users. This is obviously of vital importance in mission critical devices where power failure is not an option.
Gauging and adaptation
Smart batteries constantly track their own capacity whether they are being charged, discharged or stored. Battery capacity is reported in milli-ampere hours (mAh) to a resolution of 1mAh. The real capacity is reported in both mAh and as a percentage, (of the original design capacity and of the last time the battery was charged).
Certain correction factors are employed by the battery fuel gauge to adjust for changes in, for example, battery temperature, its charge rate, its discharge rate, etc. Smart battery gauges also tend to be adaptive, modifying the adjustments they  make as the battery ages and its chemical properties and ability to hold charge change.
As a result, smart batteries can usually predict their capacity to within ±1%, (a major advantage when compared to the ±20% accuracy found in products employing ‘dumb’ batteries).
Smart batteries can also extend the useful life of a battery by modifying their charging algorithm based on changing environmental conditions: Batteries can be damaged if they are charged whilst they are very cold or very warm. Smart batteries will therefore reduce the charge current while the battery is warm to reduce the potential for damage, and prevent charging altogether if the battery is exceptionally cold or hot.
Standardised communications and future proofing
Smart batteries maximise charge efficiency and safety by requesting their own charge voltage and current from a compatible smart charger. This method ensures that batteries are only charged when they need to be, and at the most appropriate voltage and current.
Being ‘SMBus (System Management Bus) and SBDS (Smart Battery Data Specification) compliant’ means that smart batteries comply with an open standard that is easily accessible by OEM device developers.
The SBS (Smart Battery System) specification, and the accompanying SMBus spec were originally created by Duracell and Intel in 1994, and involve carrying battery information over a two-wire communication bus. Along with the SBCS (Smart Battery Charger Specification) and the SBSMC (Smart Battery System Manager Specification), the SBS standard describes all of the information that can be communicated between smart batteries, chargers and host devices.
As a result of its on-going communication of status, charge profile, etc., a smart power system is able to future proof a product’s power supply: Should newer battery technologies be developed (with, for example, higher storage capacities and different charging regimes), these new batteries can simply be ‘swapped out’ without having to replace the chargers in the field. The existing chargers will simply receive different charging instructions from the batteries and adapt accordingly.
This simple fact frequently makes Smart Power Systems more economical in the long run, particularly in the case of medical equipment that is highly expensive, or for which maximised battery life is crucial, (in the case, for example, of Anaesthesia workstations, ventilators and remote patient monitoring).
Ease of integration
Interestingly, we’ve found that customers tend to imagine they’ll need to do lots of work to make batteries work in their system.
The reality, however, is that electronic component manufacturers such as Texas Instruments and Linear Technology have produced excellent and largely reliable, highly-integrated reference designs for their smart charger and power management ICs. These reference designs make the integration of a smart battery pretty easy. In addition, the openness of the various communications protocols make life easy for device software engineers to interrogate the batteries and extract useful information, such as remaining capacity, runtime to empty, cycle life, etc.
Powering ahead
Despite coming with a small associated cost-add, smart batteries and smart charging systems tick the right boxes for many portable devices, with clear advantages in terms of life, charge, safety and future proofing.
The market for smart charging systems is now fairly mature. However the option of implementing smart charging systems is overlooked by designers surprisingly frequently. Also, the battery life and level of adaptability that designers can expect to afford from specific smart power technologies are always changing. I’d always, therefore, recommend that designers engage with a credible third-party battery specialist in order to ensure that they specify the most appropriate smart charging solution for their device.