Keeping track of batteries can be difficult, especially when encountering continuously changing battery types and observing periodic maintenance needs. To assist, several manufacturers of battery analyzers are offering software to enable PC interface. While a PC is helpful for battery service, the available software is often not refined enough to satisfy most market requirements.
Describing the features of software packages is difficult, if not outright boring. For this reason, this paper takes BatteryShop™ by Cadex as the example of a fully functioning, multi-tasking battery maintenance system. Developed during the last 10 years, BatteryShop™ is a mature product that meets today's battery service requirements.
BatteryShop™ works in conjunction with Cadex C7000 Series battery analyzers. Although the analyzers work as stand-alone units, the software overrides the analyzers when connected to a PC. BatteryShop™ is equally proficient in supporting one analyzer or a fully extended system of 120 units.
To simplify the service of batteries, BatteryShop™ includes a database of over 2000 batteries for wireless communications, portable computing, medical, broadcast and defense. The listing includes the battery configuration codes, known as C-Codes. The newer battery listings also contain the QuickTest™ matrix to enable rapid testing. The user can extend the library by adding new models or downloading the updates from www.cadex.com. The Internet allows sharing the C-Codes and QuickTest™ matrices with the global battery community. In addition, battery manufacturers can prepare and publish the service parameters before releasing a new battery.
To service a battery, the user selects the battery model from the database and clicks the mouse. The PC sets the analyzer to the correct parameters, ready to service the battery. Programming the analyzer by scanning the battery model is also possible. Figure 1 illustrates a typical setup with two analyzers.
||Figure 1: BatteryShop™ provides a simple, yet powerful PC-interface to control and monitor Cadex battery analyzers. The Internet allows the use of common test parameters and sharing of test results. The software is designed to accommodate up to 120 battery analyzers.|
Software is commonly written to accommodate a broad range of applications, even though a customer may never use more than one function. BatteryShop™ is designed to service cell phone batteries at storefronts, check batteries in large repair centers, assist in the scheduled maintenance of fleet batteries, and tend to engineers in research labs. Here are a few examples how the PC software can be used:
When testing a cell phone battery at point-of-sale with BatteryShop™, the service clerk selects the battery from the database, clicks the mouse and connects the pack. To simplify the selection, photo images of the pack can also be shown on the monitor. The service programs range from QuickTest™ to check a battery in three minutes, Boost to wake up a seemingly dead battery, Prime to prepare a new battery and verify its performance, Charge to fast-charge, and Auto to exercise and recondition a battery. Systems such as these prevent the liberal replacement of batteries returned by frivolous customers who complain about reoccurring problems with a handset.
Battery software can also be integrated into rapid test stations capable of examining the basic functions of a complete cell phone at storefronts. Willtek Communications offers such a system. With the use of these test instruments, only handsets with genuine problems are sent in for repair. Cell phone dealers have indicated that less that 20% of cell phones brought in for service have real problems with the handset or the battery. The cost savings by pre-testing the handsets and batteries are considerable.
Not all batteries are tested at point-of-sale. Many cell phone manufactures use strategically placed service centers to repair handsets and batteries. A large service center may repair as many as 50,000 units per month. The database for such an organization can be tailored to include only those batteries that are being handled by that organization. The test results can be used for statistical analyses or sent to a central location for evaluation. Enabling access to vital test information allows battery manufacturers to correct recurring battery problems quickly and effectively.
Service software is especially helpful in tracking the maintenance requirements of fleet batteries. All packs are first marked with a unique battery ID number. The ID number is printed on a label in bar code format and permanently attached to the battery. BatteryShop™ generates these labels. To perform the scheduled maintenance, the user scans the battery ID and the PC automatically configures to the analyzer to the correct setting. On completion of the service, the battery test results are stored in the database under the assigned battery ID number. All references to the battery in terms of vendor information, purchase date, custodian, maintenance schedules, performance history and planned replacement are available with a click of the mouse.
Battery service software assists battery manufacturers and pack assemblers in terms of life cycle testing, batch checking for quality control and verifying warranty claims. Chemistry, voltage and current setting can be entered manually through the PC. Charge and discharge voltages are displayed in real-time graphics. The graphs also include battery temperature and internal resistance readings that are recoded during charge and discharge cycles. All test data can be stored for future reference.
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