ADVANCED VEHICLE BATTERY POWER MANAGEMENT FROM MERLIN
28 Jan 09. One of the core drawbacks with modern military vehicles; is their ability to supply adequate electrical power at the right times, with an ever increasing load demand. With limited current generation often possible (for example from relatively small vehicle alternators), it’s absolutely critical that power is distributed correctly and stored effectively so that it’s available when required.
Merlin Equipment, a UK based marine and special vehicle battery management specialist, is making major progress in improving power availability for UK military vehicles.
Merlin’s Powerbank product is being adopted for use in a number of vehicle UOR’s and has been chosen by companies such as Supacat for integration into many of their designs as standard.
Powerbank is a windows programmable electronic battery management “brain” that controls a number of high current electrical contactors to distribute and isolate electrical current flow. Among its core capabilities are priority adjustable split charging (feeding power to multiple battery banks from several charge sources), battery isolation for several channels from remotely mounted switches and flat battery protection for multiple battery channels.
In addition, Powerbank has a data interface that can be used to feed battery management information to third party computer systems for graphical display or audio transmission and a number of electrical inputs and outputs to integrate it further to act on or influence the wider vehicle electrical system.
“While a constant surplus of power availability would clearly be preferable, it’s rarely practical or possible with space constraints” comments Merlin’s Sales Director David Small. “With Powerbank, we can tailor the system for a particular vehicle design to ensure that we provide you with as much power as possible at the right times, based on the infrastructure available”. “We can even program the system on two identical vehicles differently to suit two specific operations, where the power usage profile might be radically different”. “This can really make a difference, particularly if a vehicle is stationary without the engine running, developing no power for an extended period, but operating a wide range of electrical systems.”
Programmable, multi channel, independent flat battery protection is a major step forward in Merlin’s opinion. While it is always possible to manually override the feature in an emergency, with the protection in place it’s far less likely that vehicles can be sent into theatre with batteries that appear good, but have been so weakened, that under load they are practically useless straight away. It will also cut down on the number of batteries required as replacements in the field and therefore ease logistics and reduce costs.
Once a Powerbank is installed and programmed, the vehicle can be run up, electrically loaded and monitored with Powerbank’s own PC based diagnostics software. This can be used to establish exactly where all the contactor control parameters need to be set in real time test scenarios.
While predominantly a ‘COTS’ supplier, Merlin is working on a number of joint projects where individual designs can be upgraded to meet defined military standards. The companies engineering division can also manufacture electrical sub-assemblies and wiring looms in low or high volume.
Merlin also manufactures and distributes a number of other associated products such as specialist high capacity batteries, battery monitors, high output alternators, power conversion products and DC distribution components.