It’s Only A Battery!

The number of times I have heard that said over the years. Product development programmes tripped up over leaving the battery selection too late and then wondering why the kit does not work as intended. Well, once again, we have another example of what happens when something goes wrong with the battery. It has been the subject of many of my recent blogs, and now someone has got bitten – badly.

Something has gone wrong, the name of a large company is hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons. What seems like a well thought out product, acclaimed by many reviewers, has hit the buffers because of the battery. Someone, somewhere, made a bad call.

But was the battery really at fault? Certainly it has taken the brunt of the blame. Headline writers have had a field day with reports of ‘exploding’ batteries, a great word when grabbing attention. It is unlikely that many of the reported events are true explosions, however if you have an overheating battery that catches fire it does not really matter what you call the event.

There are many articles speculating on what went wrong. Some focussing on construction of the battery, others the general issue with the chemistry of rechargeable lithium batteries, and others looking at the way the battery was housed in the kit. I am sure all this will be thoroughly investigated by the manufacturer in question.

Once the investigation has run its course, the cause will likely have been found to down to multiple factors. The way the battery was packaged in the product, how hard it was being used, the details of the charge control are potential issues. There will have been a trigger that started the process leading to battery failures. Hopefully this will lead to a better understanding of how to safely provide power to our mobile devices in future.

Now the product has been withdrawn from production due to the battery issue. An action in itself that may suggest it is a system issue rather than the battery in isolation.
And it is not just exploding batteries that have been making the news. One of the worlds largest on-line retailers has been fined for not complying with regulations on shipping dangerous goods by air, including lithium-ion batteries.

All this goes to show that it is not ‘just a battery’ but an integral part of the product. As such it should be a major item in the development plan so that it can do its job safely, and be transported legally. Then once in production not bother anyone at all!

Nothing beats a bit of experience when it comes to selecting a battery. Getting it right is more demanding than many people think. It is always worth having an expert on hand to help guide you through the process, even if it is just to provide a ‘sanity check’. It is a lot more cost effective than a product recall! To find out more about ways having an independent battery expert on hand could help your business please contact me using the form on this website or email