This client is one of Canada’s largest wireless telecommunications companies. In 2011, their Radio Access Network (RAN) engineering group approached Multitel with a specific and unresolved need: They needed a tool to centralize the battery ohmic data coming from the thousands of preventive battery maintenance routines performed by their field technicians every year. Plus, they wanted to explore new avenues of savings and find a functional and flexible routine planning solution.
This led them to FIRM Battery Management.
NO UNIFORMITY IN THE WAY BATTERY SOH DATA WERE COLLECTED AND PROCESSED
Up to that point, from one region to another, there was no uniformity in the way the client collected or validated the battery state-of-health (SOH) data. Technicians who collected battery ohmic data each had their own methods to ascertain which batteries had failed, which should be replaced, where, and for what reason(s). Having a tool to process all these data became a priority: all regions should collect and analyze data in the same standardized and normalized way, with the least manual input possible, no emails, as little data entry as possible, and no copy and paste.
NO NATIONAL VIEW OF BATTERY
The lack of a consistency in collecting and analyzing battery data created two problems: first, calculations had to be constantly rebuilt when looking at data coming from one region versus another, and second, it was impossible to prioritize batteries needing replacement across the network. This resulted in significant administrative costs and delays in getting a clear and prioritized yearly battery replacement plan for the network. The client had calculated that implementing a new, standardized process could save up to 30% from their annual battery CapEx and OpEx budgets.
« Amongst all the solutions evaluated, FIRM Battery Management came on top. It provided the global and national view we needed. »
MORE THAN A BATTERY MAINTENANCE FORM
All other vendors offered solutions that only covered the battery maintenance aspect: some sort of form to record conductance data and report on which battery jars were defective. However, FIRM Battery Management enabled users to collect a larger amount of data and provided advanced calculations that offered more insight, such as calculating the estimated battery reserve time for each site.
MORE DATA TRIGGERING BATTERY REPLACEMENT FIRM
Battery Management allowed field technicians to collect data that could indicate the need for battery replacement, such as visual elements (battery leaking or bulging), site temperature, cell voltage, full and modified capacity tests procedure following the IEEE Standard 450-2010 for maintenance, testing, and replacement of vented leadacid batteries and IEEE Standard 1188-2005 for the maintenance, testing, and replacement of valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries and more. Each of these data sets can indicate the need for battery replacement, rather than relying solely on conductance or impedance readings.
CALCULATING THE ESTIMATED BATTERY RESERVE TIME FOR EACH SITE
Moreover, FIRM Battery Management was the only solution that had the ability to calculate the estimated battery reserve time available for each site in the network. This saves a tremendous amount of time for power engineers and power technicians during outages.
More than a maintenance form:
- Complete network view of batteries
- Prioritized battery reserve time
- Track battery failure still under warranty
- Optimized yearly routine program
TRACKING BATTERY WARRANTY
Notwithstanding the fact that batteries can fail, there was a general consensus that some batteries could fail during their early days, even while under warranty. FIRM Battery Management was the only solution that could track battery failure while still under warranty. Moreover, by tracking a site’s daily average and peak temperatures, it could provide various data sets to battery manufacturers, demonstrating full compliance to warranty terms. This meant that the client could go back to its battery manufacturers and get new batteries at no extra charge.
WHY PERFORM ROUTINES IN SITES THAT HAVE GOOD BATTERIES?
As the client started using FIRM Battery Management to centralize battery routine data, it found that more than 90% of the batteries were good. So why perform a battery maintenance routine in each site, every year? Couldn’t this new tool allow them to determine the relevance of doing such a routine and reduce the number of routines per year?
« We are no longer blind! We know that our battery network is healthy because we have results and graphics showing that the batteries were accurately tested and can supply enough backup power. »
First Year Savings
– $1.2M in deferred battery CapEx
– $120,000 by tracking warranty
– $630,000 in OpEx
The benefits of using FIRM Battery Management exceeded expectations, even in the first year, in both CapEx and OpEx savings. The first highlight: 85% of batteries that had passed their theoretical lifetime were still good and didn’t need replacement, which meant $1.2M in capital deferral. Plus, FIRM Battery Management showed that 20% of the batteries needing replacement were still under warranty, which represented an additional saving of $120,000. But the ultimate goal for the client was to reduce OpEx. With intelligent battery routine prioritization, this telecom company was able to reduce the number of battery maintenance routines by 42%, saving $630,000 by eliminating 2,100 battery maintenance routines. The most important day-to-day big win the client experienced is that technicians are now able to visualize their battery SOH and to know the exact battery reserve time in one click. If you still replace your batteries according to their age, you might want to follow the path described here above and go for performancebased measurements and prioritization-based routine planning.