How ION’s platform helped design, power and deploy an all-electric excavator to operate in extremely cold temperatures

ION partnered with a leading European battery pack maker to enable its customer – a European construction equipment maker – to deploy their first, fully electric excavator.

ABOUT THE PARTNER

An established European leader in the battery pack manufacturing space, who undertakes the design, manufacturing, and development of batteries and power supply systems. Our partner has spent over 30 years in powering customers across a diverse range of industries that belong to multiple countries, with advanced R&D capabilities, production of rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, highly efficient equipment types, mechanical components, and electronic systems.

ABOUT THE CUSTOMER

A reputed and reliable European construction equipment and worksite technology builder, that has been enabling companies worldwide for over a century with high-end applications and innovations. They deliver a wide range of construction equipment that includes – cranes, excavators, forklifts, etc. They even undertake projects that require custom-design construction products, services, and solutions.

KEY CHALLENGES

As the electrification of transport rapidly spread to multiple other industries, the customer felt the need to build sustainable, zero-emission construction machines that could replace the diesel engine completely. They envisioned designing and deploying a range of compact, fully rechargeable clean energy construction equipment. The objectives were to deliver zero exhaust emissions, reduce the noise, pollution and maintenance requirement, improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Their challenge was to undertake their first electrification project for construction equipment, that would operate under extremely low temperatures (-20 degrees). The success of this project was critical, considering the investment in terms of time and cost. After numerous discussions held internally, they set out to find a partner who could help them power their first, fully electric excavator, within a year.

The powertrain that was needed to build electric construction equipment would significantly vary from that of a passenger car! Given the challenges and complications of this project, the customer was looking for a partner with the right experience, expertise, and advanced technological capabilities.

After having met with multiple potential partners, who were failing to meet their expectations within the given timelines, they approached ION Energy’s trusted partner who had a strong foundation in developing technology and electronic systems, R&D, and rechargeable battery production. The customer felt confident about setting out on the enormous endeavor of producing their first, commercially viable, electrically powered excavator.

Our partner analyzed multiple complexities and aspects of battery management in low temperatures. The challenge they faced was to identify a smart battery management system provider who would enable a highly scalable and efficient Master and Slave architecture for batteries manufactured by the partner.

They actively started meeting BMS providers across the world who could bring the engineering and technological capability to help materialize this project. Because of the immense growth potential, they were looking for a versatile and reliable partner to help them with the design, control, and deployment of smart BMS for their customer.

They discussed the project with the team at ION and found the team focused on building technologies that essentially improve the life and performance of lithium-ion batteries. They chose ION because of the team’s commitment to building innovative business models, BMS’s typical capabilities like state-of-charge and state-of-health monitoring and cell balancing, coupled with connectivity and data logging, and access to ION’s analytics platform.

SOLUTION

ION Energy’s advanced battery management and intelligence platform is designed with accelerated engineering capabilities and artificial intelligence-driven predictive analytics software. OEMs and battery pack makers in markets across the US, Europe and India choose ION’s integrated battery management solution for our reliability, transparency, and commitment towards customer success.

Our technological expertise, in-house hardware, and firmware development capabilities, real-time data visualization, and customization were the key determining factors that helped ION emerge as the ideal solution provider.

– ION kickstarted the project with instant activation support. A dedicated engineering team started by visiting the customer site to ensure a smooth integration and testing process.

– The team began implementing all software functionalities needed to meet the customer’s timelines. The hardware was customized to meet the customer’s present and future electrical and mechanical specifications.

– At extremely cold temperatures, lithium-ion batteries retain just 12% of their capacity. Hence, ION developed and implemented a unique Battery Heater Management system to manage safe battery operations at extremely low temperatures – up to -40 degrees celsius. The system powers up the heaters using onboard chargers and brings up the battery to an acceptable temperature before turning it on.

– Our battery intelligence platform gave them adequate control, simplified data analytics, remote diagnostics, and preventative maintenance services.

ION successfully enabled the construction equipment maker to electrify its first excavator and continues to design platform solutions for the customer. ION has ensured a minimum business of $1.5 million for the partner in 2019 that would increase to $100 million in the upcoming years.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• Thermal Derating
• SoC-based Derating
• Insulation Monitoring
• Emergency Light Management
• Dual Range Current Sensing
• Battery Heater Management
• Vehicular Interlock Generation and Closure
• Redundant over-voltage protection

Battery Specs:

> 26.6 kWh battery pack

> 10 parallel 14S16P modules

    with Pre-PDU paralleling

BMS MASTER-SLAVE ARCHITECTURE:

While there are multiple ways to implement a battery management system, to successfully tackle the partner’s master-slave architecture challenge, ION chose the Daisy chain formation method in the existing FS-LT BMS and later on built the FS-XT BMS, that is designed for High Voltage battery systems that better suit the requirement.

FS-XT is a distributed Battery Management system designed for High Voltage battery systems. Its premium features are suitable for automotive and storage applications like support for the insulation monitoring device, system interlock monitoring, contactor weld detection and system communication with isolated CAN.

It uses multiple smaller battery modules connected in series or parallel. The compact yet robust FS-XT master can connect up to 40 slave modules/combinations. Each Slave unit can monitor from 6 to 18 cells in series.

The slave units communicate with the Master over the state of the art isoSPI protocol without the need for a processor. The slave takes its power from the cell it is monitoring and a two-wire isolated SPI. The Master unit runs advanced SOC and SOH algorithms. It also comes with premium safety features suitable for automotive and storage applications like support for the insulation monitoring device, system interlock monitoring, contactor weld detection and system communication with isolated CAN. The daisy chain formation is highly scalable, efficient and cost-effective. Since the battery is huge, it becomes important to have a distributed architecture within the Battery Pack. The daisy chain makes the distributed architecture, while the master controls it.

The features of the Master in this architecture:

Input Voltage9 to 48 V
Number of slaves supported per communication channel 1 to 10
Number of communication channels available per Master4
Number of cells in series for system6-180
High voltage measurement channels4 isolated channels
High voltage measurement range0-900V
Accuracy of high voltage measurement+-1VDC
Current sensorsSupports 2 external hall effect current sensor
Range of current measurement input0-5VDC, 0.0-2.5V for input current & 2.5-5.0V for output current.
Temperature sensors4 external temperature sensor (NTC) connections
System safety monitoring featuresSupports insulation monitoring Supports PWM based interlock loop
Contactor safety feature2 contactor weld monitoring channels
General Purpose output8 channels for driving contactors, 2 high side open drain outputs, 2 low side open drain outputs.
Dimensions152 X 152 X 15 mm

The features of the Slave in this architecture:

Cell voltage range1V to 5V
Cell configuration (per Slave board)6 - 18 Cells in series
Balancing current per cell420 mA @ 4.2V
Current consumption on board15mA in normal mode 5µA in sleep mode
Communication with MasterIso-SPI
Temperature sensors1 on the board + 2 external sensors (10kΩ NTC)
Dimensions100 X 75 X 12 mm

PRODUCTS DEPLOYED

Advanced Battery Management System & Intelligence Platform

Using our battery intelligence platform – Edison, the partner was able to visualize, predict, and make sense of the battery data to improve the battery life. The real-time analytics helped the team use over 170 configuration parameters, identify issues and troubleshoot problems beforehand in the design, testing, and prototyping phase.

Edison is an AI-powered battery lifecycle management platform that leverages battery specifications, environmental conditions, application context, and usage patterns to accurately gauge the current state of health, predict the end of life, estimate the commercial value and optimize for the second life of the batteries.

The features of the Master in this architecture:

ION's Companion Applications

ION Lens is used to remotely interface, activate and connect to the BMS. It transfers the battery data to Edison via Bluetooth or Wifi. ION Lens showcases the overall battery status including parameters like:

– State of charge (%)
– Current drawn (A)
– State of health
– Temperature (°C)
– Total voltage (V)
– Module voltage

ION Trace is an android component managing application that helps keep track of the entire lifecycle of our company’s assets. It uses the QR code to manage a component across all its stages, including – assembly, testing and validation, deployment, and servicing.
ION Trace lets the user do the following:

– Access Component Reader (current state and history of the component)
– Test a complete batch of BMS
– Fast Scan (scan multiple components in a row)
– Add, test, assemble and disassemble a component

KEY BENEFITS

Small and reliable systems

Active engineering & onboarding support

Reliable BMS
(zero downtime)

Superior cell balancing
capabilities

Highly flexible with
over 170 configurable
parameters

Edison Analytics protects
the battery against improper/
insidious use cases

BMS records every second of the battery life to help identify critical issues

Real-time visualization
and analytics

Pre-assembly diagnostics
and end of line QA testing
with Edison Analytics

PARTNER TESTIMONIAL

"ION helped our customer overcome critical challenges pertaining to operating the battery under extreme temperatures. The support that ION's team offered to us and our customer throughout the project was invaluable. We have been able to significantly increase our business profitability and are confident about working with more customers to solve critical battery management problems!"

Looking for a similar solution for your electric vehicle?