Technological Advancements Aim to End Dead Batteries

While the modern car has transformed into an intricate system of smart components, one component is still a mystery when it comes to predicting its lifespan: The 12-volt battery. With new developments in advanced diagnostics and sensors from companies like Clarios, automotive batteries may no longer be such enigmas as consumers seek out more accurate maintenance solutions for their vehicles.

At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Clarios – North America’s largest automotive battery manufacturer – unveiled its Smart AGM lithium-ion battery. Embedded with electronic sensors that can detect a pending failure before it occurs, this innovative product can also alert fleets and drivers when a battery failure is imminent.

Fleet maintenance has always been challenged by accurately gauging battery life as there was no reliable way to determine a battery’s remaining useful life.  Existing methods such as 100-amp tester and state-of-charger testers can really only tell you the battery’s current charge level, which only determines if a battery is good or bad. These tools can’t help determine how much life a battery has left, they can simply confirm that a bad battery is, in fact, dead.

“Every 12-volt automotive battery has six cells – but we’ve never been able to understand what’s going on inside those cells in real time,” explained Jason Searl, vice president, products, Clarios, in an interview. “But now, with our patent-pending new technology, fleet managers, technicians and drivers will be able to look at, and monitor, cell life in real time. The system can identify weak cells that eventually drag a battery down and allows for a predictive assessment as to how many days, weeks or months that battery has left before cellular failure occurs.”

A long-standing challenge has been finding ways to take measurements of battery cell life in real time. Getting electronic sensors that can survive inside the harsh environment full of sulfuric acid and positive/negative plates posed an especially tough hurdle as corrosion would be unavoidable.

“What we’ve done is create connection points inside the battery,” Searl said. “Over time, we refined that process to the point and produced tight enough tolerances that we could make additional connections with sensors that can survive not just inside a battery, but in a trucking environment with vibration, alternating hot, cold, humid and dry conditions. We were able to do that by leveraging Clarios aerial lithium-ion battery technologies. So, we are essentially bringing aircraft-level technologies into trucking with this system.”

According to John Bania, Clario product line leader for heavy duty and specialty batteries, the Smart AGM system can be easily integrated into any felt maintenance system using either a web portal or dashboard.

“We are working on interfaces that will work for large fleets that need to identify issues, trends or get alerts on high-risk batteries,” he said. “We’re also working on versions for smaller fleets that use portal access or other alert avenues like text alerts or emails.”

The new battery monitoring system provides a comprehensive look into the power source of vehicles. The intuitive display boasts two gauges and bar graphs for each individual 2-volt cell, showing technicians precise information about voltage rating, current amps, remaining life span as well as easily identifiable health status – all with just one glance. A crucial addition to any vehicle’s maintenance process that can predict potential failures before they happen, allowing technicians to replace the battery if failure is predicted, and allowing drivers and fleet managers to eliminate delays caused by battery failure.

In addition, drivers and fleet managers can get real-time alerts when a battery is about to die. This can not only save time but also money as it can reduce repeat visits to the shop for misdiagnosed battery placements when an electrical issue or a failing alternator or starter is the actual root cause of the problem.

Searl says the benefits reach far beyond simply eliminating dead batteries.

“Fleets will be able to determine what kind of battery life they’re getting and why,” he said. “They will be able to identify issues that are shortening battery life, like overuse — liftgates, for example, or drivers making frequent stops with electric systems running but not enough drive time between them to recharge the battery properly. Using data from the Smart AGM battery monitoring system will allow fleets to making better spec’ing decisions that will give better performance and efficiencies from a truck’s entire electrical system.”

Summer fleet trials will soon be underway for the Clarios Smart AMG battery monitoring system, which could revolutionize how fleets and drivers manage AGM type batteries. Later this year limited production runs are expected to begin with full availability planned for 2024.


Source: truckinginfo