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At Alexander Battery Technologies, the safety of our battery packs is a top priority when we begin prototyping. When designing a battery pack for light electric vehicles (LEVs), we ensure our battery packs are designed and manufactured to UL2271 standard. A UL2271 certification is important for your battery pack as it is required for your product to meet regulations in some regions.

What is UL2271 Certification?

UL2271 certification was released in 2016 by Underwriters Laboratories, a global safety science organization. This standard covers the safety requirements for the design, manufacture, and testing of lithium-ion batteries used in LEV applications. It is now a necessity for all lithium-ion battery packs traded in the US to meet UL2271 certification. With other countries expected to follow suit, we ensure all our LEV application batteries meet UL2271 standard.

How is the battery pack tested?

Prior to achieving certification according to UL2271 standard, every battery must undergo a sequence of assessments.

The tests mandated by UL2271 standard encompass:

  • Thermal runaway test
  • Overcharge test
  • Over-discharge test
  • Crush test
  • External short-circuit test
  • Impact test
  • Water immersion test
  • Thermal cycling test
  • Vibration test
  • Forced discharge test
UL2271 Certification

Examples of applications that require UL2271 certification

  • E-Bikes
  • E-Motorbikes
  • E-Scooters
  • Golf carts
  • Hydrofoils

What does all of this do for your battery?

UL2271 certification ensures the battery is safe for the consumer and the product. This guarantee of safety is needed for the battery pack to be eligible for trade in the United States of America. UL2271 certification ensures an application’s power source will be durable and safe throughout the application’s lifetime.

To receive UL2271 certification, battery packs must not:

  • Explode
  • Catch fire
  • Rupture
  • Leak electrolytes
  • present an electric shock hazard
  • lose protection controls during testing

What does UL2271 mean for Alexander Battery Technologies?

We know if an OEM is looking for their battery pack to be UL2271 certified, the safety of their battery pack will be a top priority. Using our 40 years of battery pack manufacturing expertise we can design and manufacture a battery pack that can be UL2271 certified. Our battery packs are designed with our customers requirements at the forefront, allowing our engineers to prototype all aspects of the battery pack to pass the certification test. From the fittings to the casings, our battery packs are custom-made to fit your application.

Conclusion

Since its inception in 2016, the benchmark set for the safety of a battery pack used in LEV has been UL2271 standard. Using our wide range of industry knowledge, we know how a battery to design and manufactured to achieve UL2271 certification. If your application needs a battery achieving UL2271 standard we can produce for you, contact us here.

Batteries are playing an important role in facing the global warming crisis head on and are a strong component in sustainability. But what exactly is the role of batteries in the energy transition? Here, we explore the advantages of batteries in a sustainable world.

What is energy transition?

The energy transition is a path to a more sustainable future, and the global energy sector must adjust from fossil based to zero carbon by 2050 to help combat climate change. To do so, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, supported by lithium-ion batteries are needed to be used as a replacement for systems in place that include things like oil and natural gas.

The availability of renewable energy sources and the increase in battery storage are driving the possibility of meeting the goal, and it emphasises the importance of batteries in the energy transition.

Lithium-ion batteries are dominating?

There are many types of batteries, and given the numerous things in our lives that need power, it’s likely that you’ve encountered quite a few. However, lithium-ion battery packs are common, and you’re likely to be more familiar with these as they’re used to power everyday appliances like mobile phones.

Electric cars may not be dominating the roads yet, but numbers are rising. There are currently 470,000 electric vehicles in the UK and counting – and these are also powered by lithium-ion batteries.

With many advantages, like low self-discharge and a long lifetime, they are used for many important things – in fact, they’re also used to power micro and macro energy grids. As lithium is ultimately a recyclable resource, this is a major benefit and reflects why they are key for the energy transition.

With batteries being used for transport, the future of travel can be more sustainable. Approximately 30% of global greenhouse emissions are generated by travel, so it’s essential that this is reduced to combat climate change, and batteries are a factor to make a difference.

The circular economy

The reliance on batteries in the energy transition puts pressure on lithium-ion batteries and the materials needed to produce them, so it’s important to take advantage of the fact that a circular economy exists in the battery industry and recycle them.

Recycling batteries will place less strain on battery pack manufacturers as there is a reduced risk of a shortage of materials to produce them. Additionally, battery recycling is a safe step to take for the environment and neglecting to do so contradicts the energy transition.

Batteries have many purposes – thanks to lithium-ion batteries, there’s a chance that the plan to reach zero-carbon in 2050 could be achieved. However, they must be used and recycled correctly in order to satisfy the goals that have been set.

When looking to engage with battery suppliers, there are several factors that medical device companies should consider. Although different applications will have different individual requirements, there are certain qualities that are essential for all devices.

For example, suppliers should meet the ISO 13485 certification for good process alignment and have demonstrable experience in producing ‘mission-critical’ batteries of exceptional quality. Design and manufacturing experience across a range of challenging features and performance-related topics, such as IP68, fast charging and product longevity, is also strongly recommended. In addition, the company should be verified and validated as meeting the expectations of medical businesses.

Custom battery development for medical applications

Alexander Battery Technologies designs and manufactures custom battery power solutions for a variety of medical applications. Based in County Durham, UK, the company’s products and services include Li-ion and NiMh battery packs and chargers, battery management system components, integrated power and charger solutions, and custom printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) solutions. Alexander has 40 years’ experience developing power solutions for the medical market (and other industries) across a host of applications, with some of the world’s largest medical customers within their customer base.

The process of selecting components for battery solutions largely differs from one application to the next; while some factors (such as those listed above) are non-negotiables for all devices, the main factors that must be considered often depend on the device and what it will be used for. “The component selection is determined by the customer requirement,” states Claire Brymer, finance director at Alexander. “Not every design is the same, we work closely with our customers to understand their needs and make sure the component selection meets the needs.
Despite this, one thing that Alexander prioritises in its work is the lifespan of its battery packs. “Longevity is one of the things we look at,” Claire explains. “As the components have to go through costly and rigorous testing and can’t be changed easily, making sure you choose the correct components from the start is extremely important.

Addressing pain points in the battery manufacturing process

As a contract manufacturing organisation (CMO), Alexander aims to address several key customer ‘pain points’. One of these involves establishing and maintaining the status of a provider of quality, reliability and performance among its competitors on the market. Because Alexander’s customers demand optimal performance from their power solutions, the company custom-designs all its products specifically for each customer’s needs, using Tier I suppliers and carefully selecting components that can work harmoniously together.

We take a proactive approach by using risk management tools such as design failure mode and effect analysis (DFMEA) and process failure mode effects analysis (PFMEA) to ensure the quality of the product,” states Claire. “We have a thorough process when qualifying new suppliers, ensuring that they maintain quality throughout their process. Once a supplier is qualified, we evaluate them using a technical, quality, responsiveness, delivery and cost (TQRDC) process on a quarterly basis to ensure the expected standards are not dropped.
In addition, Claire notes that the company maintains ‘excellent’ long-term relationships with its Tier I suppliers, which are another key element of its strategy. “Tier I suppliers share the same values, processes and techniques as Alexander; we build long-term relationships with them and feel that they are an extension of how we operate,” says Claire.

The second pain point that Alexander targets is that of time to market – developing power solutions quickly so that clients’ products can be launched on schedule, without compromising on quality or safety. “Speed to market is important to our customers, who want prototype and production products turned around quickly to ensure they remain competitive in their market,” states Ben Moody, marketing manager at Alexander. “We have developed a rapid response programme based on automotive techniques, meaning we can deliver high-quality products in weeks and months, rather than months and years.

Alexander’s rapid response programme covers the entire production process, from concept and design to production, with average design and production times ranging from five to nine weeks depending on project complexity. The company’s design functionalities include electronics, mechanicals and enclosure supply requirements, while its development capabilities include testing, product refinement and tooling. Central to the programme are automotive techniques, which allow Alexander to ‘move through projects efficiently whilst maintaining a traceability and regulatory standards that our customers require,’ says Claire.
We operate a managed buffer stock program and maintain priority status in the supply chain to meet flexible demand requirements and deliver on time in full to fulfil customer delivery schedules,” Claire explains. “Customers are allocated a project lead from the initial kick-off meeting and, using these techniques, we are able to deliver initial prototypes in as little as five weeks.

Another area that Alexander aims to address in its operations is in delivering the highest possible quality for its customers so they can maintain their reputational integrity. To do this, the company aims to integrate quality into every element of its manufacturing process, from strategic direction to Lean Six Sigma training at operational level. This does, of course, look different for each stage of the development cycle, but there are certain common principles that Alexander follows to ensure quality is embedded into all points of the process.
We use risk management techniques to mitigate the quality risk,” explains Claire. “This is managed across cross-functional teams and all input is analysed. Then the process is broken down into small chunks where operators have electronic work instructions in front of them, highlighting critical to quality aspects of the process.

Matching battery demand during the Covid-19 pandemic

Over the coming months, Alexander plans to invest more in its facility in Peterlee, UK, which was opened in 2019. The company saw an increase in demand for its solutions during the Covid-19 pandemic, which its Peterlee facility helped to meet.
The new facility was designed with flexibility in mind ‒ all the manufacturing lines are capable of running any battery or charger,” Claire says. “When we received the increased volume orders, it was easy to replicate the manufacturing lines. Our challenges were largely around recruiting staff and training them to maintain our high-quality standards. We were able to do this by working with a local recruitment agency and creating approximately 400 jobs ‒ every operator attends a training course, where they spend two to four weeks being trained before they go on the line.

Do you have a project that needs a custom battery pack?