Navigating the battery technology landscape

Ergotron Inc
Wednesday, 23 June, 2021



“A healthcare facility, by nature of its complexity and its dependence on technology, is always in a state of flux,” writes Rosalyn Cama in her book Evidence-Based Healthcare Design.

Working in an environment of constant change makes healthcare management incredibly challenging — when each day is different, strategic planning becomes a tricky balance between leaning on assumptions and covering hypothetical scenarios.

One of the most significant challenges facilities are faced with in today’s rapidly changing environment is power supply and battery management for equipment and devices.

Strategic planning for fleet management and reliable power resources remains a necessity as hospital and healthcare facilities balance:

  • Capital expenditure vs. operating costs
  • Workflow requirements
  • Safety
  • Environmental sustainability
     

Historically, the most common types of batteries used in healthcare were Sealed Lead Acid (SLAs) and hot-swappable Lithium Cobalt Oxide (Li-Co). Technological developments have led to another type of hot-swappable battery gaining traction — the Lithium Iron Phosphate, or LiFe battery system.

Safety

There are many factors to consider when selecting the battery type, including thermal runaway. Thermal runaway is the spontaneous combustion that occurs when a battery is damaged, which can result in a battery fire.

Studies show that in Li-Co batteries, the thermal runaway temperature begins at about 150 degrees and the battery can quickly reach 700 degrees. In LiFe batteries, thermal runaway onset doesn’t start until 170–210 degrees and battery temperatures only escalate to about 400 degrees.

This makes LiFe a more stable and safe option. To date, there are no known reports of LiFe battery fires in health settings.

Efficient workflows

The burden on staff using batteries is often neglected. Even as technology has advanced, many caregivers experience power anxiety, as they worry about their equipment uptime and the location of the nearest electrical outlet.

Li-Co batteries, while light and powerful, are often complex to use — they can be difficult to attach, need to be recharged often, sometimes offer incredibly short changeover windows, and are susceptible to damage through over-charging or under-charging. On some models, it is also difficult to tell how much charge remains.

LiFeKinnex™ batteries have been designed for staff and managers working in high pressure health environments. LiFeKinnex batteries are:

  • Flexible — The battery can be attached to existing WoWs to give them new life, or can be part of a new equipment solution. It can simplify your battery fleet as it is compatible with multiple device types. LiFe can be charged on-cart or used with a charging station as a hot-swap battery, to allow for varied workflows.
  • Easy to charge, switch and store — The LiFe batteries attach using magnets, so they can be swapped quickly without worry of damage to delicate parts. They offer a switch-over window giving staff time to change batteries without risk of powering down equipment. Their capacity to handle higher rates of current without sustaining damage makes them hardier than other battery types.
  • Specially equipped for power management — Each LiFe battery comes with an individual LCD display and monitoring software. This allows staff to easily see how much power remains in the battery on their device, while tech managers can log-in to check levels across the fleet with a single glance.

Better value and environmentally sustainable

The cost of battery replacement and failure is an enormous financial burden for most institutions.

Healthcare managers working with severely restricted budgets are often drawn to Li-Co batteries because of their slightly lower upfront cost, but the short lifecycle of a Li-Co battery makes it a much more expensive option over the long term.

Li-Co batteries — even when handled correctly and used in optimal environments — have a maximum lifespan of 1,000 cycles. LiFeKinnex batteries are guaranteed for 2,000 cycles, and the technology has the potential to last for up to 10,000 cycles.

This lifecycle difference represents a saving of 50% or more on battery replacement costs — a significant line item for operational budgets. With less replacement, there also comes less environmental impact. In 2019, the CSIRO identified the disposal of lithium-ion batteries as a “serious waste problem”. As battery-powered tech becomes ever more ubiquitous, this is an environmental burden we all have a responsibility to shoulder.

Download the Power Life-Changing Care with Safe Battery Technology to learn more: https://www2.ergotron.com/batterysafety_wp.

For more information on how LiFe batteries can enhance your equipment, save your staff time, and relieve pressure on your budget, visit www.ergotron.com or call 0403 986 442.

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