How Can Consumer Electronics Companies (Safely) Avoid a Long Time to Market?
In 2020, the Consumer Electronics (CE) market was worth more than USD 1 trillion – and is growing at a rate of close to $100B per year.
What is propelling this growth? In the main, portable electronics. And what is powering all of these products? Batteries. For global CE companies, battery-powered products are the backbone of their product catalog. (Case in point: Apple, for whom battery-powered devices, and the services delivered through them, account for 90% of revenue.)
However, every CE company faces a dichotomy:
1. Launches need to happen ASAP, because the fast-moving CE market demands frequent product introductions and updates. Product refresh cycles are measured in months, not years.
2. However, if they rush things – and go to market with imperfect batteries in their products – a company can wind up facing battery fires and costly recalls.
How can this haste be balanced with the need for effective batteries? How can CE companies get to market quickly without sacrificing safety?
Battery Pressures: Recalls & Missed Launches
As market pressures demand more from batteries (brighter screens, longer runtimes, noise-cancelling features), battery manufacturers are packing more energy into a smaller space, making batteries inherently less safe. Companies must adhere to ever-increasing quality standards while also contending with the rapid evolution of lithium-ion battery technology and a global battery supply crunch. Unfortunately, if batteries are not built, packaged, or operated correctly, they can catch fire, resulting in recalls and serious damage to the brand. According to Reuters, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 recall could cost the company up to $17 billion following the company’s decision to cease sales of the flagship model.
Batteries are one of the most complicated components in a consumer electronics device, and typically the one that takes the longest to test and verify before launch. More than any other component, batteries need to be fully vetted, tested, and well-deployed. However, making batteries is very, very hard, so they have to be sourced via complex supply chains. Once they are sourced, there is a lot of work still to do, because it takes at least a few months of testing to verify the battery will last through a 1-2 year warranty.
As if that wasn’t challenging enough: as the global supply of batteries becomes increasingly constrained, companies are finding it hard to buy enough batteries from “Tier 1” battery suppliers. Because the majority of future supply is now committed to EVs, and grid storage is expanding, CE now faces battery competition like never before. As a result, CE companies are forced to look to less reputable suppliers for their batteries. In order to ensure these batteries won’t blow up in customer hands, the CE companies have to do extensive “qualification” testing on these batteries. This can take months for each new supplier, and is slowed by cumbersome data analysis. Problems are often not discovered until late in the process, necessitating starting over with a new cell design or new supplier.
Even if companies get all this right, and are on course for an all-important product launch, they are still missing opportunities to improve the product because additional testing, experimentation, and analysis doesn’t occur. Ideally, OEMs could go beyond the bare minimum of making sure a battery meets warranty and day-one performance requirements. They could collect battery data from CE devices in the field in order to improve future versions. However, they lack a comprehensive procedure in place to allow them to perform more optimization work inside a development cycle.
The Solution: Enterprise Battery Intelligence
How, then, can companies get it right? How can they meet product launches – but launch products with high-quality batteries that are adequately tested, sufficiently understood, and maximally protected from catching fire in a few months or years?
The key is EBI. Voltaiq’s Enterprise Battery Intelligence™ Platform is designed to use large-scale data analysis to optimize every part of the battery lifecycle. Our EBI solution:
- Automates over 90% of the analysis tasks typically associated with engineering a battery for a new CE product.
- Automatically gathers all of your data into one place, and harmonizes it to a common format.
- Offers interactive tools, tailored to industry standard test protocols, which eliminate data drudgery and manual spreadsheet work.
- Loops in the whole battery lifecycle, from supply chain vetting to post-launch data analysis for future product development.
Companies may use EBI to analyze their batteries under a variety of settings – operating voltage restrictions, rates of charge and discharge at certain stages of operation, and so on – and effectively filter through all the data to see what works best. They can iterate quickly, to achieve optimal circumstances faster. As a result of all of this, launch timelines remain on track, and businesses can stay ahead of the competition.
Safely Avoiding a Long Time to Market
The growing demand for portable electronics and wearable devices is fueling the battery industry’s massive global expansion. Batteries are complicated, and almost always the most time-consuming component to engineer. This is primarily due to the fact that in order for a battery to be properly released, it must undergo months of testing to guarantee that it meets warranty standards. OEMs cannot cut corners, and if they do, there is a real risk that they will face embarrassing and costly recalls. As a result, many companies are looking for a solution that will get them to market faster without sacrificing safety.
To accomplish this, OEMs must have a complete strategy in place that enables them to perform more optimization work inside a development cycle (not just the bare minimum to guarantee warranty compliance.) This is where Voltaiq’s Enterprise Battery Intelligence™ Platform can help. Companies that use EBI can thoroughly understand and test their batteries. The required months of testing can be substantially improved and accelerated with EBIs assistance. Because the process is no longer a bottleneck, OEMs can confidently market their product faster and safer.