Battery Selection and the Critical Decision Matrix
While their components are as unique as their respective industries, OEMs, by their very nature, are all characterized by pieces fitting into a larger puzzle. From raw material sourcing to trouble-shooting design challenges, there are endless “components” that feed into the business of component manufacturing.
The impact of design decisions
At every juncture in the process, decisions are made that ripple through an organization. Design decisions made by engineering teams without an awareness of current supply chain constraints are a common pitfall for OEMs. The ability to navigate this decision matrix, starting at the cell selection level for battery packs, is a quality OEMs can seek out in a battery partner.
With online access to branding and marketing, the industry is brimming with component vendors looking for new customers. Along with many established component suppliers and products, there are also many questionable suppliers. Cell suppliers are not immune to this reality. A provider offering “ideal” specs for a cell at significantly below market-value pricing and delivered at timelines that seem too good to be true should send the alarm bells ringing.
Another obstacle that is addressed by working with a qualified battery supplier, is the reluctance of larger cell suppliers to communicate directly with OEM customers. As Excell Battery’s own Mike MacWillie, Director of Engineering, puts it, “If you’re not an approved battery assembler of some flavour, the cell provider won’t even talk to an OEM customer. We act as an essential conduit between OEMs and cell providers”.
The role of scalability and practicality
Two more key, but easily overlooked, pieces of the matrix are scalability and practicality. This pair plays a significant role in the long-term success of any OEM design. Working in tandem, specs that are scalable are often inherently practical and vice versa. Achieving a happy balance between these two has more to do with timing than many engineers realize. As Excell Battery, the earlier in the process we become involved with an OEM, the easier it is to evaluate a design by its scalability and practicality. One of the first steps, before diving into electrical specs, is establishing the scope. What type of device will this charger eventually power? What environmental or industrial stresses will impact the device components? These questions and more all feed into the scope profile of a project.
Armed with an understanding of scope, decisions can then be qualified based on their ability to scale with the project and the practicality of all design components. This qualification is particularly important when looking at cell selection.
An alternate cell option is critical
Right out of the gate, we also recommend having a main and an alternate cell option. Using our network of cell suppliers, we advise OEMs on which cells will best suit the project and timeline. We then put all selections through rigorous qualification testing at our in-house lab to ensure the cells perform according to the cell specifications.