Anthony Robinson looks at the way customer needs impact device design and the innovation required
Have you ever watched a child puzzle over how to get the square peg in their hand into that round hole? Being a battery original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can often raise the same quandary. However, rather than simply hammering the square peg in as it is, OEM designers take the opportunity to get innovative.
Any designer engineer sets out with a vision. Whether it’s for a revolutionary space-saving ventilator or a user-friendly portable defibrillator, the designer has a set of objectives in mind and regulations to meet. In the early product design stages it can be quite easy to overlook the battery. After all, a battery is just a battery, correct?
However, when designing a device for use in critical situations, such as a medical or defence setting, a reliable power source is paramount. That’s why as much effort needs to go into the design and verification of the device’s battery as it does the device itself. Battery OEMs like Accutronics develop technology to suit the specific requirements and regulations of the application in which the device will be used. However, this is not always a straightforward process.
Take the portable defibrillator for example. New materials and technologies are driving the advancement of all portable devices, making them smaller and lighter. As a result, batteries need to keep up. Just look at how much your laptop battery has shrunk in the last decade! So, a device OEM may produce a design for a more compact machine than has previously been used, but fail to leave enough space for the battery. This is made worse when the device is much smaller than previous models, or is a different shape.
This is where a battery OEM has to get creative to develop an innovative product that meets specifications within the confines of the overall design. It can be a delicate balancing act to incorporate functionality, safety features and smart battery components without inflating costs. This is particularly the case when making smart batteries smaller as there needs to be enough space for suitable battery cells and electronics to ensure safe, reliable power.
Anthony Robinson is engineering manager (electronics) at Accutronics.