Written on September 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm
Manbat – Real World Battery Solutions
Life Before Start-Stop Batteries
For many years the technology incorporated into the typical car battery remained relatively static, so while the major manufacturers obviously invested in improving the performance of their batteries, they were generally lead-acid batteries designed to cater for large current discharge when starting the engine and subject to continuous charging while the vehicle was running.
As far as the factor and their workshop customers is concerned, a traditional battery replacement is a simple and straightforward process, only complicated by the fact that nowadays a supply current has to be maintained in the system to ensure the power to the ECU and vehicle’s other electrical equipment is not lost.
The Start-Stop Revolution
In contrast, the introduction of Start-Stop vehicles has driven a major change in battery technology. Start-Stop engines have become the preferred route for most of the vehicle manufacturers to enable them to reduce the emissions and fuel consumption of their vehicles and achieve the European Union requirement for fleet average vehicle emissions.
The traditional lead-acid ‘starter’ battery is not suitable for this type of engine and therefore cannot be used. Instead it requires a battery that can deliver the starting power of a traditional automotive battery, with the cyclic (charge, discharge, charge etc.) capacity of a specialist mobility battery. The result is the absorbent glass mat (AGM) battery, which was first developed by VARTA® for whom Manbat is the UK’s largest supply partner. Another alternative is the enhanced flooded battery (EFB), which has similar characteristics to an AGM battery, but is designed for entry level Start-Stop vehicles that require less electrical capacity.
In The Workshop
With a Start-Stop vehicle, technicians cannot just replace the battery in the way that they have done with a traditional battery. Instead as the battery is integrated into the vehicle’s on-board electronics via a battery management system (BMS) or intelligent battery sensor (IBS), so the replacement has to paired with the BMS/IBS, which requires specialist equipment. Without the equipment to assist the technician to ‘introduce’ the battery into the system, the vehicle will at best illuminate error messages on the dash or fail to charge the battery, at worst, simply not start at all.
Another complication comes because there is little guarantee that the battery in a Start-Stop vehicle will be found under the bonnet. Therefore, technicians need to have access to reliable technical data such as TecRMI, to pinpoint the exact location of the battery whether that’s in the boot floor or, as it is in at least one application, beneath the front passenger seat!
Training is also particularly important because the number of potential faults in a Start-Stop system is far greater than for a traditional electrical system. As the engine is switched off as frequently as possible and only restarts when the vehicle pulls away or when the battery’s state of charge drops to a predetermined level, the BMS is extremely complicated. Therefore the correct testing procedure and fault diagnosis is vital.
The Factor’s Responsibility
In addition to receiving the correct battery for the application, workshops look to their factors for sound advice and the necessary support to guide them through the transition from the familiar traditional technology to the Start-Stop future. So as well as having the right products in stock when they’re required, factors need to pair up with a battery partner that is able to help them to deliver the support, and supply the technical back up, to make that possible.
Therefore alongside the ability to provide a wide range of quality batteries across a number of competitive price points, factors need also to consider whether their battery partner has the stock capacity to meet fluctuations in demand, has the technical knowledge and ability to deliver the training necessary to empower the workshop, has the access to the equipment required for the task and has a robust environmental policy to correctly deal with disposal of scrap batteries.
How Can Manbat Help?
Manbat’s ethos is to work alongside its customers in partnership to not only identify and supply the most suitable battery from its portfolio of VARTA, Lucas or Numax, but to also determine the best support programme to help factors in turn support their workshop customers.
Through its long term relationship with VARTA, Manbat has access to both the training, which is delivered by industry specialists eXponentia, and the VSSP 2.0 diagnostic and installation tool that are necessary for workshops to face the battery challenges posed by Start-Stop vehicles and to develop their ability to profit from them.
When it comes to responsible disposal, factors have to understand their environmental responsibilities and ensure batteries are disposed of legally, as well as benefiting financially from their inherent ‘scrap’ value.
Manbat is a member of the ECOBAT group, which includes specialist waste battery businesses and lead smelter ECOBAT Technologies Ltd, one of the world’s leading suppliers of lead. Through its efficient smelting facilities across the globe, ECOBAT annually converts millions of tons of lead waste into high quality lead ingots, strip, wire and shot. Among its many customers are several of the major battery manufacturers, and some of their brands are subsequently distributed nationally through Manbat’s comprehensive branch network.
The combination of new battery sales and distribution, together with waste battery collection, recycling and the reintroduction of lead into the manufacturing process, means that the ECOBAT group, and therefore Manbat, is able to be exceptionally environmentally aware and is currently the only global company offering a closed recycling loop for lead-acid batteries.
As a result of these combined strengths, allied to its 60-year plus aftermarket heritage, Manbat is fully justified in its claim to be the country’s premier automotive and commercial vehicle power storage product supplier and service provider.