Demand for remote nickel battery monitoring is growing fast, driven by the potential savings in CapEX and OpEX, through the growth of Industries 4.0. Erick Lopes, Nickel battery Product Manager explains how Saft’s new remote solution for nickel battery monitoring will enable operators to deliver condition-based maintenance and replace batteries only when needed, rather than on a time-based schedule.
Our Intelli-Connect™ digital solution for nickel battery monitoring has completed a year of field trials with customers. These have shown that the cloud-based system has the capability to provide remote condition monitoring for nickel batteries across a wide range of industries, battery ages, system voltages and climates.
The Intelli-Connect nickel battery monitoring solution is based on sensors installed with new Saft nickel batteries or with existing nickel battery fleets. These sensors monitor temperature, current, voltage, electrolyte level and hydrogen level in real time.
When deployed on Saft nickel batteries, Intelli-Connect also combines these measurements with Saft’s proprietary algorithms to calculate the battery state of charge (SOC) and state of health (SOH). This gives industrial operators reassurance that their batteries are ready to support mission-critical loads at a moment’s notice. Alternatively, it can raise an alert to let them know if the battery needs attention so that they can take appropriate action.
Return on investment
We’ve found that Intelli-Connect nickel battery monitoring has huge potential to help industrial operators reduce operating costs and extend the life of assets. We have gathered a lot of success stories from our first eight customer trials.
The experience shows that there is always a return on investment, and the payback will depend on the many factors included in a typical total cost of ownership (TCO) or life cycle cost (LCC) analysis. These include the remoteness and criticality of the installation, as well as the local cost of labor.
To give some examples of how the solution helped customers during the trial, one cut energy costs after we identified they were using heating in their battery room unnecessarily. Elsewhere, we identified a nickel battery with more capacity than expected, enabling the customer to increase their discharge time. Another customer used our data to identify and correct a fault on a battery charger.
At a higher level, one of our trial customers was even on the verge of developing their own nickel battery monitoring system so Intelli-Connect saved their development costs. It also provides them with additional insight into SOC and SOH, being based on Saft’s 100 years of experience in nickel battery technology.
Trial sites chosen to reflect real-world installations
The eight trial sites were chosen to reflect the wide range of geographies, industries and applications that industrial backup nickel batteries serve.
We delivered trials in Sweden, France, Spain, South Africa and Brazil. These covered an electrical distribution grid, switchgear standby, fire safety system, hydropower plant, railway signaling, SCADA, chemical refinery shut-down system, and UPS. The installations also reflect the range of electrical specifications, with systems operating at 24, 110, 125, and 360 Volts (V), as well as having different ranges of Saft nickel batteries for each application.
Intelli-Connect’s sensors are straightforward to install on existing nickel battery systems. This was helpful during 2020 when the pandemic restricted our ability to travel. With a little guidance over the phone, our customers were able to install their own systems and integrate them into our secure cloud-based platform.
Ready for roll-out
With the experience from the trial customers under our belt, we’re now ready to roll out Intelli-Connect to our broader customer base. The indications are clear that it will play a key role in increasing system availability and reducing maintenance costs for nickel battery systems.