Written by Maria Beck
VARTA Power & Energy presents newly developed lithium-ion batteries for “Agricultural Robotics” at the FIRA in Toulouse.
In agriculture, electrically driven, driverless machines are being used for an increasing number of tasks. From sowing and weeding to watering, pollinating and harvesting, a large number of start-ups are asserting themselves on the market with new ideas for autonomous machines. A key factor for success in agricultural robotics is finding the right energy supply, as VARTA Power & Energy will demonstrate at stand F44 at the FIRA, the International Forum of Agricultural Robotics. The congress will be held from 10 to 11 December 2019 in Toulouse, France. For the first time, the Swabian battery specialist will present its newly developed, application-specific “Easy Block” and “Easy Blade” Power Packs from the ASB series (Application Specific Batteries).
“The agriculture industry of tomorrow must produce food in a more sustainable way and with less work involved. We are convinced that agricultural robotics can make an important contribution towards achieving this goal. That’s why we are entering a new market segment with our “Agricultural Robotics”, and our aim is to produce lithium-ion batteries for all kinds of application,” explains Gordon Clements, General Manager for VARTA Power & Energy. Currently, the company is providing standard batteries to a series of smaller businesses, with which they can bring their first product designs onto the market. A large number of start-ups are active in this field which are unable to pay for the development of a customised battery solution. “That’s why our business model consists of offering everyone an ASB (Application Specific Battery) as a standard solution. In this way, companies save on the costs of design and certification, among other things. Later, we will develop customised lithium-ion battery solutions for those companies that are successful, in accordance with their requirements,” Clements explains.
The ASB batteries (Application Specific Battery) developed by VARTA Power & Energy are lithium-ion packs for use in small and medium-sized vehicles. As well as the agricultural machines that are the new subject of interest, these also include driverless transport vehicles and forklift trucks, for example. The batteries have a modular structure and are extendible. As a result, they can be adapted to specific applications. Customers receive a ready-to-use battery solution with all the accessory parts and certifications needed.
The new “Easy Block” lithium-ion pack from VARTA Power & Energy is available in three versions. The nominal output is between 16 and 51.2 ampere hours, the voltage lies between 12.8 and 38.4 volts, and they have a nominal power of 614 to 655 watt hours. More than 2,000 charging cycles are possible. The new “Easy Blade” lithium-ion pack is also available in three versions. Here, the nominal output is between 30 and 60 ampere hours, the voltage lies between 24 and 48 volts, and they all have a nominal power of 1,512 watt hours. Over 1,000 charging cycles are possible.
Clements assumes that during the first quarter of 2020, there will be a large number of applications that require customised batteries. According to estimates by VARTA Power & Energy, by 2023, the market for “Agricultural Robotics” will have grown to around 24 billion US dollars worldwide. The demand for high-power lithium-ion batteries for automated vehicles and robot systems will increase accordingly. “Since VARTA has over 30 years of experience in designing, producing and certifying lithium-ion batteries, we will be the supplier of choice”, says Clements.
When it comes to agricultural robotics, lithium-ion batteries offer several advantages over lead acid solutions. They have a significantly longer life, and can provide more power over the same surface area. This can reduce the need for charging the batteries by day or during the work shift. Lithium-ion batteries also charge faster, which makes quick charging possible between shifts and during breaks, or the distribution of charging over a fleet of vehicles. This ensures continuous operation without interruptions. Lithium-ion batteries can provide the power for faster hoisting and for heavier loads, with a smaller form factor. They also make it possible to reduce the head length when used for lorry and pallet loading applications, enabling narrower corridors and greater warehouse space efficiency.
Gordon Clements, General Manager for VARTA Power & Energy, will talk at the FIRA on 11 December from 10 – 10.15 am about “How farming will become fully electric in the future with a safe, long-running and reliable lithium-ion battery”.
About VARTA AG
VARTA AG, as the parent company of the Group, is active in the Microbatteries and Power&Energy business segments through its subsidiaries VARTA Microbattery GmbH and VARTA Storage GmbH. Today, VARTA Microbattery GmbH is already an innovation leader in the field of microbatteries, one of the market leaders for hearing aid batteries and is also striving for market leadership for lithium-ion batteries in the wearables sector, especially for hearables. Power&Energy focuses on intelligent energy solutions for tailor-made battery storage systems for OEM customers as well as on the design, system integration and assembly of stationary lithium-ion energy storage systems. With five production and manufacturing facilities in Europe and Asia as well as sales centers in Asia, Europe and the USA, the operating subsidiaries of the VARTA AG Group are currently active in over 75 countries worldwide.