Series, Series-Parallel and Parallel is the act of connecting two batteries together. By connecting two or more batteries in either series, series-parallel or parallel, you can increase the voltage or amp-hour capacity, or both to allow for higher voltage applications or power hungry applications. Power Sonic explains these connection types below.
As part of our education series, TRACO Power’s Florian Haas delves into the safety concerns that must be considered when a patient is connected to an electrically powered medical device, and how to best protect that patient by avoiding electrical failure.
The Power Guy at TDK-Lambda recently blogged on a subject worthy of mention: how to evaluate a convection cooled power supply’s performance. What makes this such an important topic of discussion is the variety of testing methods across the industry differ significantly.
Every electronic application requires some form of power source, but designing and sourcing power supplies and batteries can be challenging. Customers often face potentially complex solutions, long design cycles, extended lead times, and a lack of expert design guidance. Because power and power-related products are some of the most complex in terms of design and procurement, a number of key factors must be considered when designing power.
Engineers and purchasing professionals must weigh many factors including an understanding of the end application, including any portability requirement. Some of the questions to ask; What is the size, output power, efficiency, and reliability needed? How will heat be managed and what means of thermal management is required? For instance, should the power supply be fan-cooled, convection, or conduction cooled? Are there safety concerns and at what level (e.g., Class 2 vs. Class II)? Is interference an issue and does the device require EMI/RFI filtering? How long will the device run and what are the peak power loads that are required? Does the application require an uninterruptible power source or a battery backup?
A technical power supply distributor such as Sager Electronics through its specialized group Sager Power Systems is often the key in helping a customer address these types of design challenges. Sales engineers can assist customers in determining the correct power and battery backup solution. Recommendations may include several design options from off-the-shelf AC-DC power supplies and DC-Converters to modified standard products that range from simple modifications to highly complex design.
The power grids across the United States face major challenges due to infrastructure age, intense weather, and the increase in demand for electricity. Electrical outages, brownouts, and surges are a reality, and these factors need to be strongly considered when designing electronic systems. This is especially so for equipment manufacturers in the industrial and medical sectors where down time can lead to major financial loss or potentially life-threatening situations. The growth of home health care devices like respirators, CPAP machines, power wheelchairs, and home dialysis equipment are essential to quality of life and independence, and these systems all require battery backup. To address the demand for portable and backup power requirements, Sager added RRC Power Solutions, a lithium-Ion smart battery pack manufacturer, and Power Sonic, a leader in sealed lead acid and lithium-Ion technology, to its line card.
Power sources tend to have a higher value and are often larger and weigh more than most components, impacting shipping methods and costs. Batteries also present some additional buying challenges specifically around shelf-life, recycling considerations, and shipping and handling regulations. Lead times should be monitored as extensions on power supplies and batteries can present a challenge. Price, availability and handling make proper planning crucial in the procurement of power supplies and batteries.
“The Sager Power Systems program is very unique to the marketplace. With a focus on power and synergistic technologies such as batteries and thermal management solutions, and the ability to provide best-in-class configurable and custom value-add services , no other distributor offers its customers this level of expertise in power and thermal,” explained Rich Arieta, Sager’s director of business development for Sager Power Systems. “Additionally, we can further support our customers’ requirements with a comprehensive array of supply chain services.”
In today’s quick and complex market, access to knowledgeable technical advice, breadth of quality product, and reliable service is paramount to successful design.
The role of purchasing within an OEM or CEM is continuously expanding, and today’s purchasing professionals can heavily influence their company’s component selection. As influencers, their understanding of the parts they’re sourcing is critical to ensuring they make the right purchase at the right price and the right time. An educated buyer evaluates components, recognizes product quality requirements, and understands risk. This information is then used to make informed purchasing decisions.
In the area of power supplies, these decisions may be made all the more challenging by the sheer nature of the product. Design options are endless and may be more complex than other electronic components. Power supplies often have higher average selling prices (ASP) with long lead times, limited liability warranties, and stringent efficiency and safety requirements. Another consideration is the prevalence of power supplies amongst counterfeiters, and how easily a part may be sourced through unauthorized channels. With all of these challenges, what can a Purchasing professional do to source the best solution while protecting their company?
Understanding the complexities, efficiency and safety requirements of power supplies has a far-reaching, positive impact. The best and easiest way to gain that understanding is to work with an authorized distributor that specializes in power conversion products. This is even more critical as future power supplies will push the boundaries of technology, getting the most power into the smallest package while staying ahead of the latest safety and EMI/EMC requirements.
An authorized distributor focused on power knows that by lowering the amount of wasted energy within the power supply, it runs coole- and aids in the thermal design of the overall system. Less heat generated by the power supply allows the component size to be reduced or more power to be generated within the same package size. For instance, not so long ago a 3”x5” power supply was designed to handle 40W of power. Today, that same 3”x5” power supply can handle 250W with no airflow or up to 500W with air blowing across it. Standardizations in footprints (2”x3”, 2”x4”, 3”x5”, etc.), has allowed for more opportunities within the same footprint, but the number of options may be limitless. Having a resource to help guide purchasing through the buying process can save a lot of time, aggravation and money in the long-term.
Additionally, keeping up with changing standards is a constant challenge. The international safety standards for power supplies, as well as end systems, are constantly being updated. EMI and EMC requirements are also changing based on new technology and how devices interact with each other. The increase in electronic devices in our homes and businesses require more stringent requirements. Electrostatic discharge (ESD) requirements have gone to higher levels to accommodate increased home use. The susceptibility levels resulting from the presence of multiple electronic devices have also been raised to account for the proliferation of mobile phones, Wi-Fi networks, smarter appliances, and the internet of things (IoT) that are all connected wirelessly. The increase in medical devices for home healthcare brought about the need for additional safety standards as well. Authorized distribution works closely with power supply manufacturers to stay on top of these changes.
Sourcing smaller, more efficient, warrantied, and safe products, from an authorized power specialist like Sager Power Systems, a specialized group within Sager Electronics, will ultimately result in cost savings and an enhanced return on investment for a purchasing professional and their companies.
When faced with a myriad of changing regulations, extended lead-times and tight delivery schedules, specialist expertise can provide powerful solutions, says Sager Electronics’ Paul Kopp
Q – What are the greatest challenges faced by the power sector?
A) The ever-changing landscape of regulations is the biggest challenge, especially in medical, industrial and EMC-related applications, where regulations are frequently updated. Each country will have its own schedule for adopting industry certifications, so purchasers must be diligent in staying abreast of requirements. Manufacturers must also adapt materials and processes on an ongoing basis to ensure products meet the newest standards. Distribution plays a crucial role in tracking regulations and impacted parts across the supply chain. Sager works with both suppliers and customers to communicate changes, assist with new designs and stock the newest components, all while minimizing potential cost increases and delivery disruption.
Q – Have there been any major shifts in purchasing habits in the power sector?
A) For several years, we’ve seen a shift towards just in time deliveries from customers purchasing power conversion products. Power supplies have higher average selling prices and are physically larger than most components on a customer’s BOM, so purchasers can save money and production floorspace in this way. Increasingly, customers ask us to manage to their forecasts to make sure they have product available when required. We also work with purchasing and engineering to bridge any gaps between finding the best technical solution and sourcing components with the best price and lead-time. Customers are supported by a sales engineer and a field sales representative, while a dedicated inside sales representative manages price and delivery expectations.
Q – Have power supplies and associated products been affected by extending lead-times?
A) Lead-times of certain electronic components are beginning to extend, with pushouts of base products like capacitors, resistors, mosfets and FPGAs being felt across the supply chain. Power supplies rely on capacitive technology and are at an increased risk, but Sager has planned for any potential impact with significant investment in both high running items and customer specific parts. We’re confident we are well positioned to reduce the impact.
Q – How will readers benefit from Sager’s acquisition strategy?
A) The acquisition of PowerGate and Norvell, in 2014 and 2015 respectively, were designed to differentiate Sager Electronics through specialized knowledge, products and capabilities. Regional power supply distributor, PowerGate, was recognized for its technical sales team, marketing expertise and strong line card. Norvell furthered Sager’s value add capabilities, including full test, integration and design. In 2017, Sager acquired Power Sources Unlimited, which added to our technical expertise and enhanced relationships with shared power supply manufacturers. Today this technical team addresses front end inquiries from new customers, determining the right product solution.
Q – How does Sager prepare for the launch of a new power supply?
A) Sager is given advanced notification of new product introduction and works closely with suppliers to profile and inventory products towards specific markets. We load descriptions, images and datasheets to support marketing efforts, which are communicated to customers through our News2Know email program. Our power sales engineering team also undergo training based on suppliers’ six to twelve-month product road map to provide customers with up-to-date product information.
Q – How does Sager’s inventory level compare now to three years ago?
A) We’ve increased our onhand inventory by over 30 per cent in the past three years. In the coming months, Sager will open a new 64,000 square foot power solutions center and distribution facility in Carrollton, Texas. Our new location is 70 per cent larger than our current center in that territory, allowing us to triple our existing distribution footprint.
Q – What advice would you give purchasers sourcing power supplies and associated products?
A) Power products are some of the most complex in terms of design and procurement, so work with an authorized distributor structured to support both engineering and purchasing; capitalize on the services, technical knowledge and breadth of product afforded by this relationship. Sager’s solutions such as vendor managed and bonded inventory, kitting and labelling, or power and thermal value-add capabilities, combined with a robust portfolio and dedicated technical specialists, help customers find the best fit for their requirement.
To ensure electronic components can withstand their end-use environment, purchasers must navigate a host of international standards and certifications. Specialist advice can be invaluable, says Sager Electronics
Although the interpretation of harsh and hazardous conditions can vary, factors such as water, humidity, dust, chemicals, electrical surges, vibrations, electromagnetic interference and temperatures can all cause an electronic component to perform unexpectedly or possibly even to fail.
Clearly, failure is not an option in life-critical designs, so a thorough understanding of the environment where the application will be used and how it will be used is vital. Oil and gas exploration, nuclear power plants, hazardous waste, pharmaceuticals, outdoor environments, industrial facilities and even grain storage are often defined as harsh or hazardous environment industries, but extreme conditions can also be found across a range of more common applications and markets.
Once the criteria for environment and use have been determined, purchasing staff must ensure that the electronic components sourced meet the latest industry certifications and standards for that particular design.
When sourcing life-critical electronic components, key considerations could include: flame proofing, explosion proofing, pressurisation, oil immersion, hermetic sealing, encapsulation, mechanical integrity and intrinsic safety. The first step to ensuring components will operate reliably is to work directly with the manufacturer or through an authorised distributor. Purchasing components from an unqualified source can leave customers exposed to a myriad of potential problems.
Furthermore, by working with an authorised distributor, purchasers have access to the latest technologies and information on standards and certifications. Distributors can, for example, help customers understand relevant standards such as the IP rating used to describe sealing effectiveness for electrical enclosures.
In this rating, the first number relates to protection from solid objects or materials, while the second number relates to protection from liquids. Not used as frequently, the third number denotes protection against mechanical impacts, while an X specifies that there is only one class of protection in that field.
Beyond IP ratings, customers must also take into account a number of other standards such as ATEX, IEC and NEMA certifications. Depending on the type and severity of the expected conditions, purchasers may need to ensure components meet one or more standards issued by different authorising bodies, as well as ensuring that they adhere to any standards required in other countries or regions into which they intend to supply
Reliable supply chain
Several suppliers design products specifically for harsh and hazardous environments. Honeywell, EBM-Papst, Mean Well, BEI / Sensata, Phoenix Contact, Laird and Traco Power are just a few of the suppliers operating in this market.
Bearing in mind the diverse options available, an authorised distributor that works closely with its suppliers will be best positioned to understand the product pipeline from supplier to customer and to react to economic and material influences. As lead times extend and prices increase, distributors that plan their inventory buys and position their backlog with care, particularly in relation to electronic components designed for life-critical environments, can minimise customer impact.
Most electronic devices require cooling, but with a variety of solutions on the market, choosing the right technology can be daunting. Sager Electronics walks buyers through the assorted options
Increasing power densities, product miniaturization and stringent industry standards are all driving development in the thermal management space. Devices require more power, efficiency and performance in increasingly small footprints. Controlling temperatures in these tiny environments helps optimize performance and improve device longevity.
Most electronic components have a heat threshold; consequently, an array of thermal management products exist to regulate unwanted heat. The variety, complexity, and scope of these options can be overwhelming, but they all strive for a common goal — to dissipate heat. When specified appropriately, they help components perform at optimal levels and avoid burnout from taxing heat.
With many components increasingly vulnerable to heat, thermal management should be considered a strategic design-in purchase, but with such a wide assortment of cooling options available, selecting the right solution can seem challenging.
Fans and blowers may look the same, but are differentiated by their function within an electronic system or enclosure. Fans are more often used to draw hot air out of an enclosure, while blowers are typically used to blow air onto a component or pull cooler air into an enclosure.
Heatsinks are another familiar solution. Simply stated, heatsinks absorb and disperse heat away from high temperature components. These parts are typically cast, stamped, extruded or machined, with both passive and active heat sink types available.
Heat pipes and vapor chambers work differently. Here a two-phase cooling solution quickly transfers heat from one point to another. They typically work in the form of a sealed vessel, with water as the working fluid. Heat is applied in one area, the liquid turns to vapor and moves to an area of lower pressure where it cools and returns to liquid form, whereupon it moves back to the heat source.
Another technology to consider here is the liquid cold plate. This heat spreader or heatsink consists of tubes filled with cooling fluids such as water or refrigerant. Cold plates are also referred to as cold sinks and microchannel heatsinks. Constructed with cross drilled holes or embedded heat pipes to transfer cooling liquid through a cold plate under the device, the heat from components is absorbed into the liquid and is then taken out of the plate and into the larger system.
A thermoelectric module, or Peltier cooler, is a semiconductor-based electronic component that functions as a small heat pump. By applying a low voltage DC power source to a TE module, heat will be moved through the module from one side to the other.
In addition to those technologies listed above, there are several kinds of thermal interface materials that can aid thermal management. Gap filler, grease or putty, adhesive and epoxy, as well as phase change, insulating or non-insulating, pads and films and thermal tape materials go between a heatsink and the device to be cooled. By increasing or securing contact between the two surfaces, thermal transfer is intensified.
When sourcing any of these thermal solutions, there are several factors that procurement professionals should consider. Availability, product shelf life, warehousing, storage and packaging can all introduce variables, as can any modified or custom products.
Although many thermal management solutions utilize standard products, modifications or custom solutions are common. Unfortunately, either one can impact availability. Ensuring a proper inventory strategy with a supply chain partner is therefore critical to reducing potential lead times. Another crucial factor is manufacturer location, since lead-times can be substantially increased when products are manufactured outside of North America.
Storage concerns Despite the trend toward mini and compact fans and blowers, certain applications require large and extra-large frame solutions. Storage may be a concern if you require larger fans or blowers.
Additionally, certain thermal interface materials may require a temperature and moisture stable environment, so understanding warehousing capabilities is essential. Many thermal interface materials have a shelf life of one to two years. In the case of thermal tapes, this can be impacted by the adhesives used to apply these materials. Products such as gap fillers tend to come in rolls and sheet form, while thermal pastes and putty are typically dispensed products stored in cartridges or syringes. These rolled, sheet and dispensed products can also be subject to shelf life issues.
Fans, blowers and thermal extrusions range in size and weight dramatically, which means packaging can vary. Understanding how a product is packaged helps determine shipping methods. Proper packaging efforts by suppliers can ensure the integrity of the product during shipping however, packaging and minimum order quantity can also impact the purchase of products like fans and blowers.
Understanding carton sizes and quantities within those packages is a critical factor in maintaining the integrity of products during shipping. Identifying the proper standard packaging quantities can help in selecting appropriate shipping methods.
The weight of a product, for example, can impact the landed cost of heavier air moving solutions. With most manufacturers of these solutions operating outside North America, utilizing airfreight can shorten lead times by four to five weeks, but can also increase the landed cost of the product. Not only is product weight a consideration when importing, but it should also be considered when determining shipping within North America. These products are best shipped ground freight when shipping larger volumes to ensure product integrity.
Manufacturers or qualified supply chain partners can add value to a thermal management solution by undertaking secondary operations. Adding connectors, shortening or replacing wires on fans and blowers, die-cutting specific thermal interface materials, or cutting thermal extrusions to proper lengths, are just a few of the value-added services that can be offered by partners.
With customization a common theme in thermal management, many products are single sourced, however, products like compact fans and blowers, board level heat sinks and certain thermal interface products can be multi-sourced.
With lead times historically long on most thermal products, proper planning can pay off. By considering the guidelines listed above and aligning with authorized distributors that specialize in thermal management, it is possible to significantly improve time to market while avoiding these potential obstacles in the procurement process.
With increased functionality and further miniaturization on the horizon, the need for innovative thermal management continues apace. Sager Electronics’ Aldo Guarino highlights the issues getting buyers hot and bothered in this area
Procuring electronic products, materials and systems that combat unwanted excess heat has experienced an upsurge in recent years. The need for increased functionality in a single device, as well as the miniaturization of each unit, has accelerated the need for innovative thermal management technologies.
Consequently, there are several distinct types of thermal management products available. Broadly speaking, these can be categorized as air-moving products, such as fans and blowers, or natural convection products, such as heat sinks and thermal extrusions. Other cooling technologies include liquid cooling and fluid phase change products, such as liquid cold plates, heat pipes, vapor chambers and heat exchangers.
Thermal interface materials make up another category of cooling products. This can encompass phase change materials, thermal gap fillers, graphite sheets, electrically insulating thermal pads, thermally conductive grease and thermally conductive PCB hardware. Thermal electric modules make up the final category, including solid-state Peltier heat pumps and assemblies.
When sourcing any of these thermal solutions, there are a number of issues procurement professionals should consider. Availability, product shelf life and modified or custom products can all introduce variables into the purchasing process.
Although many thermal management solutions utilize standard products, modifications, or even outright custom solutions, are common. Unfortunately, either one can impact product availability. Ensuring a proper inventory strategy with supply chain partners is therefore critical to reducing potential lead times. Another crucial factor is manufacturer location, since lead-times can be substantially increased when products are manufactured outside of North America.
Despite the trend toward mini and compact fans and blowers, certain applications require large and extra-large frame solutions that can range anywhere from 200mm to upwards of 1,250mm. Storage space may therefore be a concern if your cooling application needs larger fans or blowers. Additionally, certain thermal interface materials may require a temperature and moisture stable environment, so identifying your manufacturers’ and supply chain partners’ warehousing capabilities is essential.
Be aware that thermal interface materials such as thermal tapes, gap fillers, greases, pastes and putty, tend to have a shelf life, typically of around one to two years. In the case of thermal tapes, shelf life can be impacted by the adhesives used to apply these materials. Products such as gap fillers tend to come in rolls and sheet form, while thermal pastes and putty are typically dispensed products stored in cartridges or syringes. These rolled, sheet and dispensed products can also be subject to some shelf life issues.
Fans, blowers and thermal extrusions can range in size and weight dramatically, which means packaging can vary widely. Understanding how a product is packaged helps determine how the product should be shipped. Proper packaging and repackaging efforts by suppliers can help ensure the integrity of the product during shipping.
Standard packaging quantity and minimum order quantity can also impact the purchase of products like fans and blowers. Understanding the carton sizes and quantities within those packages is a critical factor in maintaining the integrity of these products during shipping. Identifying the proper SPQs can help in selecting appropriate shipping methods as well.
The weight of a product can have a substantial impact on the landed cost of heavier air-moving solutions such as fans and blowers. With most manufacturers of these solutions operating outside North America, typically in Asia and Europe, utilizing airfreight can shorten lead times by four to five weeks, but can also increase the landed cost of the product.
Not only is product weight a consideration when importing, but it should also be considered when determining shipping within North America. These products are best shipped ground freight when shipping larger volumes to ensure the product integrity.
In many instances, manufacturers or qualified supply chain partners can add value to a thermal management solution by undertaking secondary operations. Adding connectors, shortening or replacing wires on fans and blowers, die-cutting specific thermal interface materials, or cutting thermal extrusions to proper lengths, are just a few of the value added services that can be offered by partners.
With customization a common theme in thermal management, many products are single sourced, however, products like compact fans and blowers, board level heat sinks and certain thermal interface products can be multi-sourced. With lead times historically long on most thermal products, proper planning with manufacturers and supply chain partners can pay off.
By considering the guidelines listed above, and by planning with authorized distributors that specialize in thermal management, it is possible to avert potential obstacles in the procurement process. Sager Electronics and its Sager Power Systems group offer solutions from a variety of suppliers such as ebmpapst, Sanyo Denki, Sunon, NMB, Aavid Thermalloy, Wakefield and Laird Technologies. This ensures the company can provide a diverse range of air moving products and cooling solutions.
In addition to its off-the-shelf inventory, Sager’s power supply and thermal management sales engineers can also provide design assistance. Field and sales representatives can help buyers navigate the challenges presented when sourcing thermal management solutions. The company can also work with customers through its manufacturers and valueadd Power Solutions Center in Carrollton, Texas to address any application requirements that an off-theshelf thermal solution can’t solve. With the need for thermal management solutions expected to increase as technology advances, buyers may well be looking for just such support.