Michele Windsor on the overlooked element for effective industrial logistics
11 Sep 2019
While we know reliable power is essential for effective logistics, we tend to ignore the role of batteries, argues Accutronics' Michele Windsor. And in this automated era, it’s rarely a case of one size fits all…
The supply chain relies on power to function. While a single source of power is relatively easy to manage and maintain, here we are talking about thousands of battery-powered devices. Each has a different set of requirements and characteristics that depend on power to perform.
When we look at the different components in logistics, it can be easy to overlook the sheer number of machines, robots and devices involved. From robots picking and packing goods in the warehouse to the smart tracking tags used for asset tracking and monitoring, these devices need to be powered correctly and consistently.
But why are batteries important in these applications? Well, the consequences of failure are far-reaching. Power loss in portable devices can completely negate the device’s purpose. Failure in a smart battery tag, for example, means the package becomes untraceable. Likewise, an issue with a delivery scanner would mean the logistics process could not be recorded at its end point.
Horses for courses
The batteries manufactured for different applications need to carry specific characteristics. Those used in delivery scanners need to be rugged to endure long journeys and potentially rough handling. Those for robots, on the other hand, need to be long lasting to accommodate intensive, lengthy operations.
Accutronics’ parent company, Ultralife Corporation, has developed a range of batteries to match these different characteristics. With over 40 years of experience providing power to mission-critical applications, they have been tested over time, with the unique Thin Cell technology being manufactured to reduce the size of smart tags.
The right battery in place every step of the way can ensure technology doesn’t add complications to operations
Additionally, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries can replace heavy sealed lead acid batteries in logistics robots. As these robots are often required to operate for hours at a time, the smart U1 battery was designed to be charged and discharged more than 2,000 times and still deliver more than 80% of its original capacity.
This equates to five and half years of daily use. It can also be discharged at currents up to 20A and still deliver more than 95% of its rated capacity — making it ideally suited for power hungry devices such as logistics robots.
Specialist batteries are designed and chosen for the application, meaning that long life and reliability are two features that would factor heavily in the design and build of batteries for logistics. The security that this brings to the logistics process is peace of mind for both managers and customers.
Logistics is all about managing complexity and, with the right battery in place every step of the way, managers can ensure their technology doesn’t add complications to operations.
Michele Windsor is global marketing manager at Accutronics