Custom Battery Packs with Delivery Challenges
Epec was approached by a client that was having delivery challenges working with a top tier 1 battery supplier. Their lead times were continually changing. They were receiving minimal customer service support and very little technical support on the engineering level. They contacted Epec mainly to discuss lead times. Upon engaging the customer recognized that we much more value-added services than their current supplier.
The customer provided the basic battery pack drawings, but these batteries had some challenging characteristics and design, to include the high watt hour ratings, dimensional fit clearances, and supporting chargers. Since the customer was now searching for an alternative supplier, there was little to no legacy information that could be provided. We needed to reverse engineer the entire battery packs using the customer provided samples, and discovered not all the battery criteria was captured in the drawings.
We initially presented cell models that could provide close to the capacity of their current supplier to determine if our solution would provide enough power to support their application.
A lot of times battery packs are designed above the actual required capacity. Through further discussion among the engineering teams, we were able to move forward with comparable cell models and produce prototypes for testing and evaluations. One of the added value solutions we provided was our engineering support to being both domestic and with our factory engineers in Asia. Understanding the customer objectives, device power requirements, and environmental challenges was the key to understanding how to solve application challenges. A part of our business model is providing solutions by helping customers with delivery and logistic issues.
From the bench test approvals, we then developed another lot of samples, and then further evaluation units for the typically required field testing which confirms actual product use in the environments intended. With a few minor design modifications such as wire harness exit locations, and adding pull straps we collaborated on the final design package.
The supporting chargers for these battery pack design needed to be customized which included specific charging profiles and custom connectors. With our engineering support structure, customizing the required chargers was a seamless process. Samples were developed and approved by the customer.
Once we had the batteries approved, the field testing and the production lots were manufactured. Regulatory was approved and the battery packs were transferred to our New Bedford facility to provide a stocking release program which also provides the customer with the flexibility of pulling in the event there is a spike in their production demands. Our inventory stocking program neutralized the lead time challenges they were experiencing from their previous supplier.
The supporting charger was also managed with our inventory stocking program which provided the economics of higher volume pricing with the flexibility to schedule releases to meet customers’ schedules.