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.