Category Archive: Blog

  1. US DOT/IATA Lithium Battery Testing Requirements

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    The U.S. Department of Transportation, along with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) requires that all lithium cells and batteries be tested for safety prior to being offered for transportation.  The test criteria are listed in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Sixth Revised Edition, Sub Section 38.3.  These criteria are frequently known as UN 38.3.

    Testing Requirements

    The test criteria specify that tests be performed on all lithium cells and battery packs, and they must be completed prior to the first shipment.   These tests need only be performed once.  All cell types shall be subjected to tests T.1 to T.6 and T.8.  All non-rechargeable battery types shall be subjected to tests T.1 to T.5, and all rechargeable battery types shall be subjected to tests T.1 to T.5 and T.7.  The test criteria specify the number of cells and batteries that must be tested.

    The tests consist of:

    T.1: Altitude Simulation
    T.2: Thermal Test
    T.3: Vibration
    T.4: Shock
    T.5: External Short Circuit
    T.6: Impact/Crush
    T.7: Overcharge
    T.8: Forced Discharge

    Details of each test can be found in UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Sixth Edition, Sub Section 38.3.  This can be downloaded at:

    https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/danger/publi/manual/Rev7/Manual_Rev7_E.pdf

    Each tested cell or battery must contain a Lithium Battery Test Summary to be eligible for shipment.  It is also required that manufactures and distributors make available the test summary using a standardized set of elements.  More information about the Lithium Battery Test Summary can be found at:

    https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/sites/phmsa.dot.gov/files/docs/training/hazmat/71126/us-dot-testsummarybrochure.pdf

    When Excell Battery is involved in the design of a lithium battery, a discussion of the UN 38.3 test requirements will occur with the customer to ensure compliance with shipping regulations.  In many cases, a Test Summary can be issued based on the similarity to another tested battery.  UN 38.3 specifies that cells or batteries be subjected to the tests if the new design differs from a tested type by:

    1. A change of more than 0.1 g or 20% by mass, whichever is greater, to the cathode, to the anode, or to the electrolyte;
    2. For rechargeable cells and batteries, a change in nominal energy in Watt-hours of more than 20% or an increase in nominal voltage of more than 20%; or
    3. A change that would materially affect the test results,

    Helping to Save Testing Costs

    To attempt to save design cost, Excell Battery will discuss with the customer whether a battery Test Summary can be issued for a new battery based on similarity to a previously tested type.

    UN 38.3 specifies the procedures to be followed to ensure safety of lithium batteries for transport.  Additional regulations by the US DOT, Transport Canada, IATA, ICAO, IMDG (and others) cover the transport of lithium cells and batteries, and specific training requirements, that must be followed by all shippers of lithium batteries.

  2. Custom Battery Solutions for Industrial Instrumentation

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    custom battery solutions industrial instrumentation

    Whether on the production floor or out in the elements, you need equipment that you can rely on. The products you use and the brands you trust need to be able to handle the drops, spills, and mishaps of a tough environment. While your handheld device has been rated to meet the challenges of your industrial application, how does your battery pack hold up?

    Choosing the Right Battery for Industrial Applications

    Difficult working environments pose unique challenges to product design. It is important to understand that not all battery packs are created equal. One must consider the environmental pressures their products face when choosing the right battery. Some of the most common concerns for industrial applications include:

    • Water exposure
    • Extreme temperature ranges
    • Dust and debris
    • Vibrations
    • Damage from poor handling

    Physical adjustments to the pack design can help address some of these concerns. Proper design and selection of enclosures as well as the actual assembly of the pack can make the difference between success and failure. Safety features, such as those that ensure the cells are maintained within their safe operating range may be necessary. Protection circuits are built into the pack that cut-off the electrical current when triggered by certain parameters such as current, voltage, or temperature exceeding their safety thresholds. These safety features protect the packs from potential damage, increasing battery life and maximizing function.

    Not only should a good pack design help address these environmental concerns, but they can also include smart technology features that offer increased functionality. Enhanced battery packs communicate with the device, sending information such as state of charge, temperature, or voltage, helping the device to make better use of the available energy. Some features ensure proper handling of the battery pack. Cells are designed to be charged at certain voltages and within specified current ranges. If charged incorrectly, cells could become unstable and possibly vent or explode. SHA-1 encryption is a safety feature commonly found in the handheld industry. It is used to ensure that only compatible charging systems are used with the device, supporting product longevity and consumer safety.

    When designing a product, it is important to consider the battery pack right from the start. By tackling this major piece in the early stages of design, you reduce the need for a redesign. Redesigns can become problematic as they increase out-of-pocket costs while simultaneously affecting your assembly lines.

    Custom Battery Cost Factors

    custom battery cost factors

    The total cost of your battery encompasses more than just the physical unit. Not all design teams are optimized to manufacture. You also need to consider additional costs that may be a result of your supply chain. This is where working with North American suppliers like Excell Battery can be a great benefit, as they often have more resources, better scheduling, and faster support. Cost factors include:

    1. Design Complexity

    • Technology Type. Battery cells come in a wide range of sizes and chemistries. While this variety makes finding the right solution easier, it also means that there are more areas in which the design can go wrong. A good battery design will balance size, weight, and energy to best suit your industrial application.
    • Quality of Components. You may have heard the saying “you get what you pay for.” This stands true for the individual components that make up your battery pack. A cheaper part usually comes with lesser quality. In the world of battery packs, lesser quality means failures in the field and possibly safety risks for the consumer.
    • Regulatory Requirements. Batteries are subject to strict regulations as outlined. Some of these regulations are specific to transportation, while others deal with safety. Certifications build trust in the marketplace, informing consumers that they are purchasing products that will last.

    2. Transportation

    • Tariffs. Some goods are subject to taxes when imported from one country to another. These charges are often difficult to predict and can fluctuate at different times of the year. Manufacturers offset these costs, passing that cost onto their customers by increasing prices of battery packs.
    • Transportation. When we consider transportation, we are looking at the couriers that take material from point of manufacture to point of installation, which can be especially difficult when shipping lithium batteries, as they are subject to strict regulations. Batteries can pose a risk during transportation if not prepared in compliance with local and international regulations.
    • Lead-time. Depending on where your components are coming from and the state of the international marketplace, you might find yourself at the mercy of uncertain supplier lead-times. Long and variable lead-times make it difficult for production lines to stay on track, negatively impacting your bottom line.

    About Excell

    Excell Battery has been providing custom battery solutions for industrial instrumentation for over 35 years. We’ve helped companies design their products early on, in order for them to consider battery requirements. This has directly resulted in their product launches happening on time, on budget, and with no product redesigns necessary. With our custom power solutions, companies have come to expect their products to last longer, run faster, and give their customers an overall better experience.

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  3. Is In-House Battery Design Costing You?

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    in-house battery design

    In the past, battery design was straightforward. With limited intricacies and the perception that moving teams under one roof would save money, battery design became an in-house operation. However, in today’s world of lithium-ion, design and manufacture involve more than a few cells and a thermistor. Working in partnership with the right company can actually eliminate uncertainty, reduce costs, and improve efficiency and safety.

    A Look at an In-House Team

    Battery design teams involve a number of moving parts. In order to have a group in-house, you need to consider onboarding engineers skilled in electrical, mechanical, and software applications. Procurement officers are necessary to evaluate suppliers, negotiate contracts, and guarantee the quality of approved purchases. Project managers lead the team through each phase to deliver goods according to schedule. Yet, this costly investment into personnel does not ensure that the final product will perform as needed. It is not uncommon for a battery designed by an in-house team to require additional outside support before going to production. Redesigns can become problematic as they increase out-of-pocket costs while possibly shutting down your assembly lines.

    Pros

    • Team is located in one place. Having an integrated project group can reduce the back and forth. If you run into a problem, engineering resources are right next door.
    • You are the industry expert. You know your application best with a thorough understanding of the global outlook, including certifications and market potential.
    • No non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs. With an in-house team, you no longer need to worry about third-party project fees to design, develop, and test a new product. However, should a problem arise, there may be additional cost considerations as well as project delays that may negatively influence your business.

    Cons

    • Lack of knowledge of regulatory requirements. Batteries are subject to strict regulations as outlined by various agencies, including the UN, IEC, ANSI, UL, and more. Many in-house groups are not designing packs with transportation regulations, such as Dangerous Goods labeling and UN38.3, in mind. While not mandatory, safety requirements such as IEC 62133 and UL 2054 do more than provide confidence that your product will perform correctly throughout its lifecycle. These labels also build trust in the marketplace, informing consumers that they are purchasing quality products.
    • Not optimized for manufacturing. While a capable team may be able to reduce design costs, many companies are not equipped with the infrastructure or resources for manufacturing power supplies. When it comes to sourcing cells or other components, most are not able to traverse the battery supply chain in regards to things like tariffs and lead times. Given the global state, you could experience lead times of 60 weeks with offshore suppliers versus a matter of months with a North American supplier.

    Choosing a Third-Party Battery Designer

    third party battery design

    Perhaps your experience with an in-house team did not go as planned. Quality issues and product failures often push companies to seek outside help when designing and manufacturing future battery packs. Or it might be your first time in need of a custom battery pack, and you understand you want it done right the first time. In this case, finding the right third-party battery supplier, such as Excell Battery, is key to the success of your business for several reasons.

    • A professional team. When you choose a battery design team like Excell Battery, who has years of experience with the whole process from technical requirements to manufacturing support, you get a team of battery experts. From the first point of contact, we become your partner, building a long-term relationship of trust and value.
    • More resources. North American suppliers like Excell Battery often have connections with many different cell providers, so we are more likely to find the right cell for the right application. As a local company, we can service your business needs in a timely manner. You also gain access to our knowledgeable engineering departments and the ability to work with teams who understand the regulatory requirements.
    • Nondisclosures. Your custom battery pack is sensitive material, and companies like Excell do not share this information. With offshore suppliers, you run the risk of your material being made public.

    Take the Next Step

    Generally, the best thing to do is to consult with a knowledgeable battery design team early. By consulting with a third party company before the design phase, you reduce the risk that your product may fail and require rework. Keep your product on track and on budget by involving a group like Excell Battery.

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  4. The Hidden Costs of the Offshore Battery Supply Chain

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    shipping lithium batteries

    When considering your supply chain, understanding the total cost of ownership is critical in making an informed decision. Not all supply chains are equal; often, when working with offshore supply chains, you are entering into a scenario where you lose control once you’ve placed your order. In these cases, there is often an unpredictable number of variables to contend with. The inability to plan precisely for costs and procurement time when shipping lithium batteries can be too much for some companies to carry. While many problems may arise, there are three main pain points that tend to come up when working with offshore battery supply chains.

    Considerations for Shipping Lithium Batteries

    1. Tariffs

    As part of government regulation, some goods—be they individual components or finished products—are subject to certain taxes when imported from one country to another. These tariffs are often difficult to predict and can fluctuate drastically at different times of the year depending on international relations, industry regulation, the health of the economy, and other factors. Due to the variable nature of trade policies, manufacturers offset the increase in overall costs, passing that cost onto their customers by increasing prices of battery packs. With the constant threat of imposed fees dictated by politics and economy, it can be an untenable situation for many companies.

    2. Transportation

    Another area of hidden costs lies in transportation. When we consider transportation, we are looking at the couriers that take material from point of manufacture to point of installation, which can be especially difficult when shipping lithium batteries, as they are subject to strict regulations as outlined by various agencies including the UN, USDOT, Transport Canada, IATA and others.  Batteries can pose a risk during transportation if not prepared in compliance with local and international regulations. To be acceptable for transport by any means, products containing lithium batteries must be tested to UN38.3 Transportation Testing Requirements. If these products are not packaged properly, they may be refused at the country of origin. In some cases when products are not clearly identified, products may not be refused until reaching customs in North America, creating serious delays that could result in substantial financial losses, halting entire production lines, and potentially closing businesses.

    shipping dangerous goods

    When dealing with offshore battery supply chains, materials ship one of two ways: by air or by sea. Both require equipment traveling long distances, but the pros and cons of the two methods differ.

    Air Cargo

    • Takes less time; goods arrive in a matter of days.
    • The schedule is more reliable.
    • Costs more due to plane capacity, higher fuel consumption, and increased. operational costs.
    • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has very strict guidelines.

    Ocean Freight

    • Better value.
    • Much slower than air: goods arrive in weeks, possibly months.
    • Have to order more frequently, tying up large sums of money upfront to maintain delivery.
    • The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code is less stringent than IATA but has a different set of requirements.

    Regardless of transportation means, there are other factors to consider. Orders must meet certain packing sizes or costs to be shipped in the first place, meaning manufacturers might have to order more than they need. Due to lead-time stretching out from vendors, producers might be unable to meet the demand from their customers and could face potential order cancellation.

    3. Quality of Components

    When creating a product and sourcing components, a Bill of Materials (BOM) is used to ensure that products are made to specification. Offshore suppliers are not always held to the same production standards that we see in North America and have been known to substitute with like components, yet they require payment upfront. These unapproved alternatives lower performance and may result in a shorter product lifespan, however, manufacturers are unable to hold OEM suppliers financially accountable. Once again, we see a point of financial loss and unreliable supply.

    Choosing the Right Supplier

    Working with other countries poses many unique challenges.

    • Language barriers.
    • Time zones.
    • Slow response times.
    • Physical distance from manufacturers.
    • Difficulty with development and prototyping.
    • Costs from tariffs and transportation.

    In the end, a large overhead does not guarantee a quality product. With differences in regulations and business ethics, delivery times, upfront costs, and overseas acquisition is an unreliable and potentially dangerous route to pursue. By choosing a manufacturer based in North America, the number of variables is significantly reduced, allowing you to maintain lower costs while striving for high efficiency and qualified support.

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  5. How To Transition To A New Battery Supplier

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    Battery Supply Chain: The Current State

    At present, the battery supply chain could best be described as overwhelmed. With an increase in the need for personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and other medical equipment, new companies are stepping up and putting their talents into markets they do not generally service. The increase in demand coupled with logistical difficulties has put a tremendous strain on traditional supply methods. Companies that do business with other countries, particularly in Asia, are finding that things are not business as usual. Manufacturers are waiting longer and competing more for the supplies they need from battery suppliers. OEM components are more expensive, and shipping logistics have been heavily affected by travel restrictions. With these new issues at hand, finding the right supplier can be key to ensuring successful business operations.

    Making the Change to a New Battery Supplier

    When you have a battery-driven product, the battery is really the heart of that device. Now more than ever, companies cannot afford failures. Customers are looking for battery pack suppliers that can provide reliable solutions with the capacity to scale quickly enough to meet demand. This means choosing an experienced supplier who has a deep understanding of the batteries themselves, as well as the ability to navigate a fluctuating supply chain.

    Fluctuating Battery Supply Chain

    Critical Steps You Need to Take

    There could be many reasons why a company looks for a new battery supplier. In light of the current health situation, businesses are finding themselves tasked with new challenges. Perhaps your failure rate is affecting costs, as well as your reputation? Or perhaps you need to diversify your supply network to adapt to a changing global economy? It’s crucial to gain a complete understanding of your product and your needs to effectively transition an existing product to a new power solutions supplier. Here are the critical steps you’ll need to take.

    1. Identify all critical components in your Bill of Materials (BOM) and make sure you have proper manufacturing documentation. When transitioning an existing product to a new battery supplier, it is essential to have clear product records. If a new product is in the works, a supplier who can work with you to design, produce, and test a solution will be critical to achieving success.
    2. Understand operational requirements. Documenting and understanding your electrical and environmental needs will make transitioning much smoother. Battery suppliers can often identify areas for enhancement if they understand the larger picture.
    3. Understand your total procurement costs. It is important to know how components or services are being purchased in order to make educated decisions regarding your supply chain.
    4. Know your regulatory requirements. Working with a battery supplier can be complex from a regulatory perspective. Regulations change depending on product class, available markets, and geographical location. For example, if an existing product is IEC or UL certified, the manufacturer is part of that file. Moving to another manufacturer means either going through the process of recertification, which takes a considerable amount of time, or adding another manufacturer to that file. Knowing which certifications you have now or aim to have in the future can make a big difference in terms of how quickly your product will go to market.
    5. Choose a partner that can guide you through the process. From start to finish, having an experienced power supplier can mean the difference between success and failure. Suppliers like Excell Battery, who have years of expertise with the whole process from technical requirements to software support, will help you navigate a process that can be confusing at times.

    Why Excell Battery?

    With over 35 years of experience, Excell Battery has been able to guide manufacturers through the entire transition. Learn more about how we can help you. Contact Us

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  6. Excell Battery Delivers Speed and Agility in Uncertain Times

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    The entire world has been thrown into a collective tailspin when COVID-19 morphed into a global pandemic. Together, we are living through an unprecedented crisis that is rife with uncertainty.

    As matters escalate, manufacturers of mission critical applications supporting COVID-19 need partners that can easily ramp production to deliver product quickly ensuring source of supply.

    Contact us: Email Us or Call: 1-708-668-6614

    Manufacturing Operations

    Because Excell is a critical supplier of products to both oil and gas and medical customers, our business is considered essential during this time. Our factories in North America will remain open and operational and positioned to respond fast to OEM requirements. The following Excell manufacturing facilities are operating at normal production levels and will continue to operate as needed to support our customers.

    • Vancouver, Canada
    • Calgary, Canada
    • Mississauga, Canada
    • Houston, TX USA

    Given the current supply chain situation, it is more important now than ever before to partner with a supplier who can provide North American manufacturing to mitigate risk. Excell will continue to provide speed and agility during these times ramping production to meet our customers requirements.

  7. COVID-19 Medical Devices

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    Excell Battery mitigates supply chain concerns supporting emergency battery demand for COVID-19 medical devices

    Excell Battery is proud to be a valued supplier responding quickly to the needs of medical device manufacturers supporting the COVID-19 pandemic including ventilators, air purifying respirators and more.  Excell provides medical device manufacturers the ability to diversify their supply chain with North American manufacturing facilities, mitigating supply chain risks.

    Contact us: Email Us or Call: 1-708-668-6614

    “I am very proud of our employees across our four factories for their commitment in supporting OEMs in need of urgent supply for COVID-19. They have and will continue to work hard during this pandemic to ensure we are supporting the needs of both patients and healthcare workers,” said Ian Kane, CEO.

    Our team of dedicated employees in our factory’s sites in Canada and the US are working hard to deliver on urgent requests from the medical device OEMs supporting the critical medical devices for COVID-19 patients and healthcare workers.  Our employees in all factories are cross trained to assist and support each other for urgent ramps in volume.

    Due to our in-depth experience and expertise in the oil and gas industry, Excell responds to urgent requests by ramping up suppliers and production capacity to fulfill customers’ requirements.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for uninterrupted supply chains, indicating that governments should commit to making available all necessary resources to combat COVID-19 with minimum delay and ensure that cross-border medical and other essential goods supply chains are able to function effectively and efficiently.

    Excell Battery continues to play a key role in this and we are focused on ensuring we maintain a reliable supply chain. Our four factories in North America continue to operate, as we are determined to be an “essential businesses” through our supply of battery solutions.

     

     

     

  8. What’s different about designing and building large format batteries?

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    “Companies that make products from golf carts and ebikes, to lawnmowers and robots – and everything in between are going Lithium” says Trent Keeney, Business Development Manager for Excell Battery.  Just like in the EV market, there are benefits for companies that require longer run time, quicker charge time, lighter weight, smaller footprint, better temperature performance, or any combination thereof.  “Our engineering team has years of experience in designing some unique large format batteries, which is where any company must start when looking to develop their own large format custom battery pack,” says Keeney.

    A large format battery normally is just what it says.  Large.  It is normally more than 24V and can be well in excess of 1 KWh.  Designing and manufacturing these types of large battery packs is not for everyone.  The engineering and manufacturing expertise required are very different from a normal, standard size battery pack.

    Manufacturing can also be totally different than smaller more hand held type assembly operations.  Automated welders or bonders popularized by the EV market can have significant automation and quality benefits as well.  However, when moving a 1,000 lb battery, unique and custom equipment is required.  “These batteries likely can’t be moved by hand, which adds another element of complexity to the manufacturing process”, says Keeney.

    At Excell we have to look at each of these opportunities uniquely because they are very different.  Building a 2 cell battery pack is entirely different than building a 1 KWh battery pack. The differences really have to be well thought out in the engineering phase in order to design and manufacture a quality product.

    Please contact us to learn more about our large format battery expertise and discuss how Excell can help you achieve your battery project goals.

  9. Re-Shoring: Is it right for your next battery project?

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    In the last 20 years many industries and companies have left North America in search of cheaper cost models in other countries.  In some cases this has caused complete industries to leave North America altogether.  As an example, the Lithium Ion battery market has most of the raw material supply chains in Asia.  “Battery pack assembly has also seen consolidation and change, but at Excell we see significant opportunities on the horizon with companies re-shoring their supply chains,” says Brian Larsen VP of Sales for Excell. “Obviously Tesla is leading the charge to change that paradigm but there are other factors at play here,” continues Larsen.

    Quality and counterfeit legitimate concerns

    “Reshoring is not only happening because the cost savings aren’t what they used to be, but also because the quality and counterfeit concerns seem to be more acute.  Many times companies don’t factor in the soft costs of going to Asia and what that can mean to the overall profitability of a product or business.  If you have engineers living on airplanes and in hotels flying back and forth to Asia, how much savings are you really realizing?” says Trent Keeney Business Development Manager for Excell. “Additionally, we all hear about the increased costs of doing business in China which are estimated to be increasing by as much as 12% per year*, as another reason companies cite for looking at North American options”.

    Return is coming

    There is anecdotal macro evidence that companies are returning to North America as well.  Boston Consulting Groups annual survey of larger companies with International manufacturing mentions the following; “In a sharp reversal, more large manufacturers that are planning to add production capacity for goods consumed in the U.S. say that they will add that capacity in the U.S. than in any other country.  Thirty-one percent of respondents to The Boston Consulting Group’s fourth annual survey of senior manufacturing executives at companies with at least $1 billion in annual revenues said that their companies are most likely to add production capacity in the U.S. within five years for goods sold in the U.S., while 20% said they are most likely to add capacity in China.”

    “We believe this percentage is even higher for smaller and mid-sized companies who have experienced the challenges of getting products from Asia”, says Keeney.

    The other unknown factor to consider is the newly elected US President Donald Trump and how the political landscape may change in the coming years.  There may be incentives or disincentives which will also play a role in how quickly North American reshoring of manufacturing grows.

    Contact Excell Battery to learn more about how we can help you with your next battery, charger, or power project.

  10. Why do Lithium batteries explode?

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    We have all heard about products being designed and launched in the marketplace only to have battery quality problems.

    While the root cause may be different in a phone battery problem versus and airplane battery problem, there are two main issues that almost always are the culprit.

    A battery pack uses a Battery Management System (BMS) to ensure safe operation of the battery pack. It keeps the pack from overcharging, over discharging, temperature safeties, along with other safety features are also used depending upon the application. However, if the BMS is not thoroughly tested, and proven, corner cases can occur where in a certain scenario, a failure can occur. This will mean the BMS won’t work correctly and thereby create a potentially dangerous outcome.

    Even more ominous, is a faulty battery cell. Whether it’s a cylindrical or polymer, if the manufacturing process isn’t 100% perfect, you could introduce a faulty cell into the battery pack. A BMS cannot and will not be able to protect the battery from failure if the cell has a thermal runaway type event. “There are no brakes to stop a car once it is over the cliff,” said Trent Keeney, Business Development Manager for Excell battery, “and the same is true of a cell that has thermal runaway, the BMS cannot do its job as it normally would.”

    “At Excell we use Tier 1 battery suppliers to ensure only the best cells for our customer’s applications,” Keeney says, “and while there are cheaper cell options sometimes, sacrificing quality for price is never a good, long-term business decision.” Additionally using a proven BMS that has been in multiple applications helps avoid poor BMS design.

    At Excell we have stood behind our quality for over 30 years, contact us to learn how we can help you design in the quality your customers require.

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Exceptional record of quality and service for over 30 years and ISO 9001:2015 certification ensure that your battery packs are made right every time.