Remotely monitor, control and maintain lithium-ion batteries in Telecom and UPS backup power network

The global lithium-ion battery market size was valued at $21.3B US in 2021 with a predicted increase rate of 10.8% (CAGR) between the forecasted period of 2022 to 2031. The lithium-ion battery market is anticipated to attain a valuation of $57.9B US by 2031.1

Although the initial acquisition cost is higher than VRLA batteries, the lithium-ion battery segment in the standby backup power market is expanding rapidly. This is due to its numerous key advantages over VRLA batteries, to countless technological improvements and to product manufacturing perfections.

Furthermore, there has also been the willingness of pioneered telecom and UPS users to embark in the new era of standby backup power by accepting to challenge their actual habits and modernize their corporate practices in sight of an exciting and rewarding journey ahead while paving the way for others to jump on the bandwagon.

 

Lithium iron phosphate batteries or LFP for short: The major variance that LFP batteries have over other lithium-ion batteries is the capability of delivering a constant voltage and also possessing a comparatively higher charge cycle in the range of 2000-3000. LFP batteries are environmentally safe and structurally stable. They have a lower energy density and low discharge rate. They do not heat up easily and are relatively cooler than other batteries. The chemistry of the battery saves it from thermal runaway and, hence it is considered safe for home use and are a sustainable alternative to VRLA batteries.2

LFP Battery advantages when compared to VRLA Battery

  • Lower total cost of ownership (TCO) with longer battery lifecycle and soft end-of-life;
  • Truly maintenance-free operation and fewer replacements;
  • Smaller and lighter, more versatile usage and applications;
  • High energy density footprint and no gassing concerns;
  • Embedded BMS monitoring (Battery Management System).

LFP batteries can now operate safely and dependably due to their integrated BMS, which manages the lithium battery pack using advanced firmware and hardware.  The BMS will protect the battery against abnormal conditions such as high-low operating temperatures, over discharges, over recharges and shorted cells.  Moreover, the BMS provides real-time data on the status conditions, accurate runtime estimates and state-of-health of the LFP battery pack.

For standby power backup applications, multiple LFP batteries will be grouped to generate the typical three to eight hours of reserve time in 48V telecom applications. In data center applications, the LFP batteries will be grouped in series to reach the desired UPS operating voltage. 

Furthermore, most lithium-ion battery vendors provide a serial RS-485 Modbus RTU and optionally an Ethernet with Modbus TCP as a means to communicate with the BMS.  The drawback with Modbus protocol is that it is not meant to directly interface with humans. Nonetheless, over the years, Modbus has become a de facto communication protocol commonly used to connect smart industrial devices making it an inexpensive, reliable and open-standard way to communicate with multiple BMS on a single cable.

Some BMS also offer an Ethernet SNMP connection as an option.  It then becomes apparent that each Ethernet BMS will require a network connection with a static IP address– not necessarily what you were looking for!  Thus, in order to remotely access the BMS data, reserve time estimates, operating status and state-of-health conditions, one will need a protocol gateway to convert the serial Modbus communication to a TCP/IP network connection.  However, not all protocol converters are designed the same.

A secure, flexible yet compatible solution to remotely connect with the integrated BMS

Your need may simply be to remotely access the BMS data every now and then or to perform an integration with an Enterprise Management Systems such as the Power and Cooling Asset Management Software, Network Alarm Management Software (NOC), or Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools.

Multitel's FIRMSuite
Multiel's iO Gateway

Multitel’s advanced multi-protocol iO Gateway will enable you to centralize all of the BMS critical data onto a single, yet secure IP connection, meaning that you will remove the need for multiple network connections and IP addresses almost ending IT staff’s involvement and ensuring compliance with the corporate network security requirements.

Here are the eight things you should consider when connecting with the LFP Battery BMS

  1. IP Address Management – LFP batteries with an Ethernet connection can be bridged to an unmanaged IP switch and are assigned a static IP address. The iO Gateway will store the IP address, continuously checking the communication sanity thereby enabling you to assign a label to each battery making it easy to visualize connectivity settings and status.
  2. Look at an advanced multi-protocol conversion gateway –  Do not limit yourself to a basic (one-to-one) protocol converter as you will eventually need as many protocol converters as you have LFP batteries. The Multitel iO Gateway is able to convert multiple Modbus RTU and multiple Modbus TCP simultaneously to secure HTTPS for remote visibility, or SNMPv3 for DCIM data polling or SNMP trap management integration to the NOC.
  3. Extensive compatibility – The iO Gateway is flexible and easily configurable making it simple to adapt to any vendor’s LFP battery and other smart industrial devices such as UPS, DC power plants, ATS or generator controllers, power meters, fuel management system and building automation systems (BAS) in slave or transparent mode of operations.
    1. Modbus RTU to SNMP v1/v2c/v3
    2. Modbus TCP to SNMP v1/v2c/v3
    3. SNMP v1/v2c to SNMPv3
    4. SNMP v1/v2c/v3 to Modbus RTU or Modbus TCP
    5. Modbus RTU, Modbus TCP or SNMP v1/v2c/v3 to HTTPS
  4. Global remote visibility – Most basic protocol converters will only handle a minimal number of data points limiting your battery monitoring capabilities, and some converters may not offer a means to view the real-time data values as they are refreshed. The iO Gateway offers an unlimited number of data points, offers a means to label your batteries and data points, and enables real-time visibility of data values in a dashboard.
  5. IT Network Security Compliancy – It is important to consider a protocol gateway that can provide a secure connection in order to meet your IT network security requirements. Thus, a gateway that can support HTTPS, SNMPv3 can allow for this.  As IT network security requirements snowball, having a gateway already with centralized authentication such as LDAP makes you bulletproof for the future.
  6. Trap Enrichments/NOC integration: The iO Gateway can intercept an SNMP trap from the BMS and enrich the trap with more information about the device name and other properties.
  7. Passthrough – For a BMS with an embedded web server, placing a protocol converter in front of the BMS Ethernet port will take away the access to the web interface limiting the ability to monitor and service the battery for configuration or maintenance purposes.
  8. Data polling responsiveness – Make certain the protocol conversion device has the processing power required to provide the response time you require. The iO Gateway CPU speed and memory specifications enable it to handle large amounts and is quick to respond to an SNMP Manager request making the processing of SNMP trap effortless.

Who benefits from the remote connectivity to LFP Batteries?

Field Operations: Having access to the BMS will enable field technicians or subject matter experts to keep an eye on the maintenancefree batteries.  It can also enable you to determine if a truck roll is necessary or not, saving dispatch.  Although the LFP batteries are maintenance free, having access to the battery state-of-health parameters and other valuable information enables remote maintenance capabilities.

Network Surveillance: Some lithium-ion battery vendors provide a few dry contacts to enable alarm conditions to be wired to the remote telemetry unit (RTU).  However, having a connection to the BMS of the battery will enable a more detailed status condition and prevent dispatch.  Also, during power outages, the BMS calculates the remaining time providing an accurate fuel gauge eliminating the guess work.

Network Engineering:  Having access to battery data provides a means to study the behavior of the LFP battery under your network real-life conditions; it provides knowledgeable insights and intelligence data to help you justify and confirm your business decision.

Provisioning/Planners: Having access to the battery data, alarms provide a manner to justify replacements under warranty and to help select the best product for your applications from the best overall vendor.

Sustainability Group: Most green initiatives will require to reduce the carbon footprint, therefore, reducing truck rolls.  Having remote access to the BMS can enable network operation managers to prevent truck rolls to remote site locations by having the field technicians remotely troubleshoot the alarm conditions and solve the issue.  A remote inspection of sanity parameters can also eliminate truck rolls.

1 https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2022/08/16/2499338/0/en/Lithium-ion-Battery-Market-to-Rise-at-CAGR-of-10-8-during-Forecast-Period-2022-2031-notes-TMR-Study.html

2 https://www.arrow.com/en/research-and-events/articles/the-green-choice-in-batteries

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