Saving Money Through Battery Management Control

The Rotronics team has been working with a national public service vehicle company which has well over 50 depots throughout the UK, to help them understand and improve some costly issues that their workshops have been facing, relating to the use of their existing battery management technology.

What Problem Needed to be Solved?

Ken Clark explains: “Our customer came to us first, asking for guidance relating to how the battery management equipment already in use in their workshops was being used by their team of technicians.  The management team felt that there was a lack of consistency and control, and the test and charge results were varied and not always leading to obvious solutions.”

The Key Issues:

The management team has invested in technology for each of the workshops, but they did not know how it is being used.

  • Is it being used accurately or not and:
    • Is this effecting test and charge results?
    • Do any technicians need training?
  • Is the test and charge technology being used on all inspections?
  • Is it being used with consistency?
  • Which technicians are actually doing the testing and charging?
    • How do we track who is doing what?
    • How do we know who does it well and who does not?

The management team told Rotronics that the battery management practices were feeling incomplete and lacked control.

What Did Rotronics Do?

Ken Clark and the team worked closely with the PSV customer and introduced ROBIS, which is the Rotronics online portal which remotely gathers and analyses battery test and charge data from each workshop, to provide visibility into the state of health of the fleet’s batteries. ROBIS has been able to help with all the customer’s concerns. Ken has worked with this customer to work towards a clear solution and help bring battery management back into control and reduce unnecessary battery spend. Ken has worked with them to demonstrate how the fleet list on ROBIS will show which vehicles are being tested and they have been able to see the results of all tests. The identity number logged on the ROBIS system will highlight all batteries that have been correctly tested, in terms of their specific technology type and their rated value.

The customer was able to have clear visibility regarding information about who is conducting each test and how it is being conducted. Ken Clark explains: “Some customers have five to 10 technicians in their workshops, and some have many more. It is really important to have clear knowledge of who is testing and how they are testing, to maintain control standards. The information in ROBIS can help identify which technicians have training needs. Once we went through the issues with our customer and the answers that ROBIS was able to shed light on, we then got on to developing an action plan to rectify the issues highlighted. By tracking the corrective actions throughout the workshops, we could see the process improvement trajectory, and also see cost savings and skills improvement across all technicians.”

Once the management team had gone through all the ROBIS data, they were able to identify:

  • Battery management process improvements required
  • Good and bad test and charge operational practices for improvement
  • Cost savings
  • Training needs for technicians
  • New technology required
  • Opportunities for improving their warranty claim process and saving money

It was identified that additional equipment was needed to be able to achieve optimal battery management procedures. As an example, in 12 bays, they only had three chargers, so they have ordered an additional nine chargers to ensure that they had sufficient charging capability supporting routine maintenance.

The PSV customer now has a comprehensive training programme in place to reaffirm what they do know and reassess how to test and charge each different battery type. Ken Clark says: “We should see an improvement in the voltages, so fewer batteries will be in a low state of charge. Fewer batteries will need longer charging, this will lead to extended battery life and improved vehicle reliability. Our customer should start to see fewer warranty claims, fewer roadside breakdowns, and fewer battery replacements. If a vehicle is in the bay for its regular service in the workshop area, this will be for around four hours. This is more than enough time for the battery to be left in situ, tested and charged in-vehicle. This will mitigate the need for a technician to remove the battery, take it out and fit a replacement, therefore wasting money.”

The Rotronics team, has been able to show the customer how to track each battery’s performance history through the tester, which is linked to ROBIS. This is an excellent method of measuring how long batteries are lasting. ROBIS has been an outstanding tool to get our customers talking about their battery performance and put improvements in place. They have been able to understand fact over fiction and really get an understanding of how their fleet batteries are performing through maintenance.