Cordless Rescue Tools: The Challenges of Battery Management
Maintenance of tools and apparatus is not a new concern for the firehouse. However, over the last couple of decades, that maintenance has begun to include even more electric powered devices. This has presented us with a new challenge: Battery management. And that can be quite a hassle. Before looking at a new solution that will make your life easier, let’s take a look at current issues involved with battery management at the fire station.
BATTERY MANAGEMENT: COMPLEXITY & IMPORTANCE
First of all, how do we make sure that all batteries are charged correctly and timely, without being damaged or deteriorating? What process do we have in place for efficient and reliable charging, to ensure our tools always have enough battery capacity for their next job? Who is responsible for swapping the full batteries on the charger with empty ones that still need to be charged? Where and in which conditions do we store them? How do we keep the batteries and the tools they are assigned to together? There are a lot of things to think about and manage. As a result, battery management has become just as important as engine maintenance or supply checks. What is surprising though, is that there hasn’t been much relative innovation into how it is performed in fire and rescue departments. Until now.
MORE CHALLENGES AROUND BATTERY MANAGEMENT
Before we get to talk about a new development in battery management, let’s look a bit further into the issues we currently encounter. On-truck charging, for instance, requires carving out additional compartment space, which is already at a premium. We also need to wire the power source correctly, to meet our battery quantity needs. And what to think of battery storage? How do we make sure that batteries stay with the tools to which they are assigned? Of course, none of these issues are necessarily unique to battery-powered hydraulic rescue tools. However, the size and relative complexity of these tools and batteries does make the above mentioned challenges a little more urgent.
BATTERY DEVELOPMENT IN CONSUMER GOODS
Speaking of complex tools, you likely have one in your hand or pocket as you read this. I’m referring to a mobile phone. These devices have become – in very short time – a technology staple, which can be integrated into virtually every aspect of our lives. The development of the battery in the mobile phone has been revolutionary; battery management isn’t really a concern in the world of consumer goods anymore, other than where you can find a place to charge up your phone (pretty much anywhere). Imagine for a minute, though, a world in which your mobile device battery was both removable and able to power a variety of tools – not a battery specifically developed for your device. Or worse yet, imagine having to remember to pick up a pack of AAAs every couple of weeks to power it. This idea may seem foreign and a bit ludicrous to the younger generations. But it’s comparable with actual consumer goods’ battery management before mobile phone technology drove the technological development to where it is now. And it’s very similar to hydraulic tool battery management as well.
BATTERY DEVELOPMENT IN HYDRAULIC RESCUE TOOLS
Now we are finally getting to the innovation part. The mobile phone battery revolution shows us how consumer goods have changed the way we think about battery power and battery management. Taking this as a starting point, Holmatro engineers knew they needed to rethink the way fire departments handle their battery management – especially the charging process. It was their aim to simplify the whole charging procedure and eliminate any human interference. In other words: To make battery management as easy as simply “plugging it in”, like you do with your mobile phone. And that has resulted in the new functionality of On-Tool Charging, which was launched as part of the new Holmatro Pentheon Series rescue tools. From now on you can leave the battery on the tool, plug the tool into the charger containing a back-up battery and the whole charging process will regulate itself.
VIDEO - Automatic on-tool charging of the battery: no thinking, no battery swapping and always rescue-ready. It is only a matter of plugging it in.
HOLMATRO PENTHEON SERIES: BATTERY MANAGEMENT MADE EASY
It is easy to see how the Pentheon battery management system, especially On-Tool Charging, leads the hydraulic tool industry into a new era of battery management. This functionality is more than a convenient way to power up your tool without swapping the battery. It greatly reduces or eliminates the challenges associated with truck compartment space, battery storage and power source connections. The daisy-chain feature allows you to connect three chargers and power them from one source. This is including the three tools that can be plugged into the charging docks. What’s more, similarly to the mobile phone, the development of Pentheon batteries can continue through the product’s life cycle, by way of a diagnostics software program. With this system Holmatro will continue to push the most updated software from its offices to your firehouse. Battery development is extremely important as the industry continues the shift away from traditional “corded” systems.
CORDLESS TOOLS THAT FUCNTION LIKE TRADITIONAL TOOLS
Truck-mounted hydraulic tool systems with pumps and hoses certainly haven’t gone away – and won’t anytime soon. A powerful gas/fuel driven rescue pump mounted to the rescue truck provides a certain level of mobility, access, and reliability that until recently hadn’t been replicated in a cordless tool system. Holmatro Pentheon tools change that. They even outperform traditional tools in terms of speed and control – and with that also all available battery-powered rescue tools.
ABOUT PENTHEON BATTERY MANAGEMENT
Holmatro Pentheon tools were designed to feature a truck-mounted charging system. Up to three Pentheon chargers can be wired to a single power source via daisy chain cords. And from each of these charging docks, an On-Tool Charging cord can supply power to a battery that is placed on a tool. The charging dock will automate the entire charging process, prioritizing the batteries on the tool before moving to power the backup batteries on the docks. These are “smart” batteries, designed to charge only to its full functional capacity, never damaging the unit by overcharging. They are also programmed to seamlessly handle frequent disconnection of the chargers’ power source, without damaging the unit. The batteries are meant to be stored for long periods of time on a charger, on a tool, or separate from the system, without being damaged or deteriorating.
Watch this short animation about On-Tool Charging:
TRADITIONAL RESCUE TOOLS CHALLENGED
You may notice that the above description in a lot of ways parallels traditional “hose tools”. For example, a single rescue pump being able to power multiple tools or the possibility to store petrol near the system for immediate power resupply. Or the ability to store the equipment for long periods of time without use and without risking deterioration. And that’s exactly what Holmatro engineers had in mind when developing the Pentheon Series rescue tools: to “challenge the hose tool” in every sense.
Does your fire department have a truck-mounted charging system? How have you arranged your battery management? Do you have any tips and tricks you would like to share with us and your fellow rescuers? We welcome your input and feedback!
Regional Sales Manager Holmatro USA