Saft – Energising the world for 100 years

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In June 2018 Saft celebrated its membership of the exclusive group of technology companies to prosper in business for over a century.

The global high-tech battery manufacturer has built its success on combining advanced technology with a deep understanding of what its customers demand from a battery with regard to performance, reliability and through-life cost.

This approach has driven Saft to develop some of the world’s most important battery electrochemistries, including the primary Lithium-ThionylChloride cells that helped pave the way for smart metering applications.

For over 40 years, meter manufacturers and their utility customers have put their faith in Saft batteries. And Saft is continuing to push the boundaries of performance, reliability and long life to support the new generation of connected IoT (Internet of Things) devices.

Pioneering research – the bedrock of success

Saft was founded in France in 1918 by Victor Herold, a visionary disciple of Thomas Edison. That commitment to pioneering research and development (R&D) has
remained with Saft throughout its history.

For example, in 1969 Jean-Paul Gabano invented the Lithium-Thionyl-Chloride (Li-SOCl2) technology that still provides the basis for the majority of batteries used in metering devices based on their lifetime of 20+ years that effectively eliminates the need for field servicing and replacement operations.

Today, Saft employs an exceptionally high number of staff with PhD-level qualifications and invests nearly 10% of its total sales back into R&D projects. Most recently, the company has established two technology incubators to support the challenging industrialisation process required to take new battery designs from the early design stages through to series production.

The incubators are not focused only on new cells and new chemistries; they have a broader remit, together with Saft’s production facilities, to improve processes to meet the highest safety, quality and environmental standards.

Customer support and lifetime calculation – an important differentiator To continue its drive forward in the metering market, Saft has made a long-term commitment to the gathering of extensive laboratory and field test data.

This data, including monitoring of environmental temperature, voltage and output currents, provides the basis for creating unique, fully correlated lifetime calculation mathematical models for both its primary lithium and rechargeable Lithium-ion (Li-ion) chemistries.

The primary lithium calculation models help to define the optimum battery configuration that will enable metering OEMs to deliver products that meet the challenging performance and lifetime expectations set by their utility customers.

A data-driven approach provides enhanced asset management for utility meter fleets

To add an extra level of confidence, Saft has developed a specialised remaining-life service that takes a representative number of batteries removed from installations in the field and analyses their condition to provide an accurate estimate for the projected life of the entire fleet. This service now makes it possible for utilities to optimise the management of their metering assets with data-based decision making for replacement programmes.

Digital technology is an increasingly important aspect of battery solutions, and Saft is skilled in the creation of advanced algorithms and software for battery management systems (BMS). In the case of complex Li-ion systems, these algorithms are embedded by Saft’s electronics and software engineering within the overall BMS, including state-of-charge and state-of-health monitoring.

Shaping the future of battery technology

Saft’s creative, technical people are the company’s most important asset. Thanks to their pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit the company saw 26 patents registered in 2017 alone. The groundwork is already in place for three new Li-ion technologies and Saft is ready to shape the future of high-tech batteries for the next 100 years. SEI