Batteries are a critical component for any organization using mobile devices and are on the shopping list of every electronics OEM. Global Technology Systems (GTS) is looking to shift that model from buying batteries to “as-a-service” support of the products, in hopes of giving OEMs a new way of interacting over time customers.
Meanwhile, customers can maximize efficiency and productivity of workers using mobile devices, avoid stock out problems and alleviate safety concerns created by aging batteries. Typically, lithium batteries have a lifecycle of 500 charges during which the capacity drops to about 80 percent. After than, the capacity falls precipitously, causing failures.
“Our goal is to provide our OEM customers with higher performing batteries and services that support the entire lifecycle of the battery,” said Larry Murray, CEO, GTS. “By offering our managed services to our OEM customers, we can increase their involvement in end-user replacement battery purchases and give them a new service-driven revenue stream.”
This week, GTS rolled out a suite of managed services that includes test and replace, battery color coding, and free lithium battery recycling. “This Battery as a service program ensures that the customer gets full value on every device that used batteries, but also mitigates the danger of the lithium batteries,” said John Rodrigues, vice president of marketing for GTS. “These batteries are nothing more than a package of chemicals that degrade over time. You don’t want a delivery truck to blow up or a warehouse to catch on fire due to unstable batteries.”
The company has created battery testing application that allows OEMs to send a technician to the customer sites to identify, remove, and replace bad batteries in equipment. This service includes a miniature on-site testing device that can identify the specific batteries in your portable devices then deliver a pass/fail assessment in three to five seconds. The tester pairs via Bluetooth with a mobile application that records and reports the battery state of health and stores it in the cloud to help plan ahead and budget for battery replacement.
The idea developed for the company’s off-the-shelf products as end customers complained about the never-ending task of keeping up with battery maintenance. “Very large retailers and logistics companies in particular have 10s if not 100s of thousands of devices with multiple batteries,” explained Rodriques. “A lot of these organizations have come to us and asked us to take over the management of batteries in order to guarantee uptime.”
The company answered these demands by creating a service that sent in technicians on a regular basis for a monthly fee. The service costs about five cents per battery per shift, which must be weighed against the cost of battery-related downtime.
Now, it is inviting its OEM partners to offer the same service to their end customers. “Manufacturers of medical devices, public safety equipment, and other critical devices that rely on batteries can offer this service to their clients,” Rodriques said. “If they provide the support staff to call on customers, we can fit them with a tester so they can develop an ongoing revenue stream through a monthly managed service.”
GTS has also developed a color-coding system so that the color of the battery shows the age of the battery (each year is assigned a unique color). By weeding out batteries based upon age, organizations can reduce the number of bad batteries in circulation, Rodriques said. “For some organizations, it’s a simple, elegant solution,” he said.
Finally, the company is offering to recycle the lithium batteries it sells at no cost to the OEM or customer. GTS sends a box with a pre-paid label to allow batteries to be sent back to the facility for recycling. “A dead battery is the most dangerous battery in the facility,” Rodriques said. “As batteries go bad, they become more volatile.”
Today, lithium batteries are found in many mobile products. The global lithium-ion battery market reached a value of around $25 Billion in 2017, according to report published in November 2018 by the IMARC Group. The market is further projected to reach a value of $47 billion by 2023, exhibiting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 11% during 2018 to 2023.
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN