Sustainable Pump Motors Are a Must for a Greener and Financially Responsible Future

The subject of sustainable pump motors is something that is gaining momentum for various reasons. An article entitled “Sustainable Pump Motors: Green is Good Business” in Pumps & Systems June issue addresses them in detail.

Its author and ePropelled’s head of sustainability motors division, Nick DeSilvio, dives into the energy use problem, regulatory requirements, competitiveness, and efficiency of pump motors. Starting with the energy problem, Nick outlines why pump users and the environment alike cannot afford to stick to the old-style pump motors. He says:

“(…) pumps are responsible for 21% of all industrial sector motor system electricity consumption. Lowering this number will make pumps greener and reduce operational costs.”

With the number of people on the planet rising fast, industries need to keep up with the demand for all services, water, and electricity. Using the “same old” pumps will increase costs and greenhouse gases significantly. There is no reason why we can’t look for more efficient options that will reduce costs for the manufacturers and users, as well as reduce their carbon footprint and energy use.

Another point to remember is that, although the natural environment might not be the first things to consider for manufacturers or industry leaders, it definitely is high on the regulatory agenda. In the article, Nick points out that the European Union and the Unites States are introducing new regulations that affect required efficiency levels and energy conservation standards.

As specified in the article, regardless of the national or international regulations, going green is good business.

“Pump manufacturers that can meet the regulatory mandates will have a competitive advantage in the market.

Greener motors have tangible benefits to customers.

Savings from lower electric bills are important, particularly when costs are rising. Electricity costs for industrial use rose almost 6% from a national average of 6.9 cents per kWh in January 2021 to 7.3 cents in January 2022.”

Being competitive and green is not only possible, it’s necessary. So it’s important to focus on efficiency and finding solutions that beat the current levels. Induction motors are typically 75% efficient at best. This is not good enough and we know that better results are possible because ePropelled’s high efficiency 3 HP variable speed pump motor is 95% efficient.

Nick makes a point to drive home the possibilities:

“What we have found is that a well-designed system can actually use less material, resulting in motors and drives that are smaller, lighter, and very cost effective. By taking a systems approach in motor evaluation, pump manufacturers can optimize their products to meet the end customers’ goals and the regulatory requirements.”

To learn more about pump motor efficiencies, the green problem, the relevant regulations, and the future potential of the industry, read the full article here. You can also learn more about Nick and our sustainability division here.

What Can the Indian 3-Wheeler Market Teach Us About the Industry?

Micromobility is a given in India. Two-wheelers (scooters, motorbikes) and three-wheelers (autos, tuk tuks, rikshaws) dominate the automotive sector with the country being the largest market in terms of both sales and production. But the beginnings were not ideal. Companies wishing to build 3-wheeled vehicles would import kits including motors, controllers, and (sometimes) batteries, and go from there.

More recently, government initiatives have made it more profitable to build all three components in India. And the consumers also prefer local products. Things are finally moving in the right direction, but they’re far from perfect. There are two main issues that are significantly affecting the Indian original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and the 3-wheeler market. They also illustrate how the industry at large can get more efficient, profitable, and provide improved products for the end user.

Issue #1

No manufacturer in India is currently offering the option of motors and motor controllers built and sold together as a propulsion system. These are always separate purchases for 3-wheeler companies whose lives would be so much simpler if they could find combined motors and controllers, developed to work well together.

If this was possible, the final product would be improved in addition to the OEMs’ job becoming easier. After all, if the components are made specifically to work together and if they’re tested together, then they are guaranteed to work better than the currently available alternatives. There would be no need to make any changes, improvements, or redesigns simply to make two separately made products work together better.

Everyone benefits

  • The OEMs have a simplified job building and testing the 3-wheelers
  • The final product is easier, quicker, and more cost effective to build
  • The consumer has a better propulsion system with components built and tested together

Issue #2

Some manufacturers in India have been building their motors and motor controller using designs that were tested in other parts of the world. The problem with this approach is that these designs are not fully adapted for local operational conditions.

The main challenges experienced by manufactures in India include:

  • Elevated temperatures and humidity
  • Bad roads (dust, water to wade through)
  • Stop and go heavy traffic that makes it almost impossible to reach full speed

Motors and controllers need to be efficient (and therefore greener), reliable, and up to the task in these conditions. Offering a product that is made for the local market will garner consumer trust and make manufacturers more competitive.

ePropelled solutions

ePropelled focuses on the idea of relatability and efficiency to get the most out of the paired motor and controller propulsion system. In India, our approach contributes to the OEMs’ success that comes from:

A fully developed product that is a combined motor and controller

Motors and controllers tested in their own vehicles for optimal performance

A system that is specifically built to endure Indian environmental and road conditions

Reliability and efficiency enhancements that are future-proofing their vehicles

By developing and testing our 3-wheeler motors and controllers in India and for the Indian driving conditions, we simultaneously solve two problems which have been seriously affecting the local market.

This is because we understand that each market is different and its manufacturers have their own challenges to face. In this case, the localization of our products contributes to the success of the 3-wheelers in their country of use, as opposed to the propulsion system being built and tested in one country and then shipped to be assembled elsewhere.

Our approach to the Indian market is a gauge of how the industry should look at its propulsion challenges. We believe that as innovators and engineers, we have to understand the end user and the end market while making our motors greener.

To learn more about micromobility or ask some questions about our solutions, go here.

Reliability and Safety Must Beat Costs Savings in the UAV Sector

As is the case with many emerging and new technologies that become quickly and widely adopted, regulations surrounding them tend to be slow and struggle to catch up. There are no overarching standardized policies or guidelines that govern the safe use and operation of civilian drones. Some regulations are also hard to enforce (how to you ensure that every civilian user keeps their drone below a certain altitude?). 

Failure is very much an option 

Although comprehensive, global data is not easily available, there are some statistics from which we can extrapolate valuable information. For example, according to FAA, almost 5,000 incidents were reported between 2014 and 2017. But there are also detailed statistics available about military drone accidents. For example, between 2009 and 2018, there were 250 military UAV accidents around the world. Their causes were documented and inform us that most of the crashes happened when the UAV was in the air due to engine or mechanical failures.  

A 2021 paper on the subject was even more specific, listing the main causes of UAV accidents and incidents

  • Pilot’s loss of awareness of the UAV 
  • Component failures 
  • Partial failure or loss of navigation system 
  • Improper structural integrity 
  • Turbulence 
  • Collisions with obstacles and barriers 

Three of these (marked in bold) are linked to the mechanical reliability of the machine. 

And this is the crux of the matter. Pilot error and/or collisions are something that UAV designers and manufacturers can’t really fix directly. But component failure is something they can address, thereby making UAVs safer and more reliable.  

Complications 

The various uses for UAVs and their flight parameters complicate matters further. For any possible flight there are, among others, different: 

  • conditions 
  • environments  
  • altitudes 
  • pilots 
  • sensors 
  • payloads  

To allow UAVs to perform optimally under any of those conditions, their components are becoming more complex and the number of parts and lines of software increases. This makes it more challenging to test and ensure reliable operation. New technologies keep being developed, promising improved performance and prompting an arms race of sorts among manufacturers.  

For example: 

  • New cooling technology can enable UAVs to fly higher in thinner air where cooling is a challenge. 
  • Improved thrust-per-weight ratio can help UAVs meet more challenging mission parameters. 
  • Smarter systems that use standards-based CAN provide access to all sensor data, helping users adjust and optimize performance.  
  • There are techniques that extend the life of bearings 
  • High temperature sensors can prevent windings from burning up 
  • High temperature magnets in the motor will prevent demagnetization due to heat 
  • Allowing for higher voltages in case of voltage spikes can protect the drive system 

Bringing these (and other) options to market and ensuring that they are thoroughly tested and available to manufacturers can help with reliability problems. (If you have any questions about any of the above solutions, you can contact us and we will be happy to chat.) 

Keep on flying 

Reliability of the UAV overall mechanical system and its components is not only tied to safety but also to overall performance, availability, and therefore, user satisfaction. That doesn’t only mean civilian users. Companies and organizations that increasingly adopt drones (whether it’s delivery, entertainment, science, or military) have to rely on their machines to conduct their business.  

What’s more, this is a self-propelling (pun very much intended) success story. The more reliable the drones are and the more flight time they have, the more they will be used and relied on by businesses and civilian customers alike.  

With the technology continuously making strides, it is worth to invest in high-quality stronger materials, improved systems, and better reliability because it’s possible for drones to: 

  • Fly for longer,   
  • Be safer, and 
  • Fly more (with a growth from 90% to 95% availability). 

In fact, not only is it possible, it is necessary and the technology exists to make that happen. It is more than worth it to invest in reliability because the alternative is not only unsafe, it’s bad for business. 

“Screwing up math irritates me. Bad engineering not really.” An Interview with an Engineer.

Here is a little look into the mind of a systems engineer. We recently interviewed Sage Belanger to allow us to share a little more about who we are, what we do, and what our employees find important about their jobs. Enjoy.  

How long have you been with ePropelled?  

Three years. I started working here in February 2019. 

You have a brand-new job title. What is it? 

Applications and systems engineer. 

What was it before? 

Systems engineer. A difference of one word.  

But what is the difference in your responsibilities? 

I interact with customers and resellers more, answering technical questions that they have. I did it partly before but I do it much more now. I have also been sitting in on new meetings with potential partners and clients. 

What do you do in any given week? 

The plan is to shift some of my responsibilities on to other people. Mostly with the Arena stuff. I’m an administrator and guru for Arena, our product lifecycle management system. Being the only one who has a lot of experience with it, I’m still the one helping to manage that.  

I’m certainly not a design engineer. I’m not the one who’s making the PCB, designing it, picking the components, and laying it out. As a systems engineer, I can help with specifications. Trying to determine what the system as a whole has to accomplish and let the requirements trickle down to the designers.  

So I guess I do a little bit of engineering but I do it at a higher systems level. A lot of my job is customer-facing, answering questions, but also compiling documentation such as datasheets, manuals, and things like that.  

I am also involved in testing sometimes. I’m not doing the testing directly anymore, because now we have other people to do that. At one point I was because I was the only engineer. Occasionally though, they will run into issues and when they do and have trouble debugging something, I’m usually the first one they go to. If I can’t immediately help them, I will send them to a designer. But I would say that at least a good 50% of the issues they run into, I am able to help them overcome.  

I do a lot of other random little things that need happening. I spend most of my days dealing with things as they come up. I switch tasks pretty quickly and I jump from one thing to another.  

Do you have a good mix of actual hands-on mechanical engineering and theoretical work or is your job heavily skewed towards one?  

I really don’t do much bench engineering. I’ll leave that for other people to do. It’s not really my strong suit. I went to school for electrical and computer engineering. And I was certainly much better at the theory of that, carrying the math through, etc. Because of my vision, I don’t make a particularly great bench engineer. Being able to probe around on a circuit board and messing with the oscilloscope to see exactly what I’m looking for, etc. I struggle to do that. It’s a little tough.  

So I guess I’ve always leaned towards the theoretical or even the paperwork side of things. With the systems engineering, I’m looking at requirements a lot. I’m rarely putting my hands on things to actually test them. That’s not to say that I don’t ever do it, but it’s certainly not my strongest suit, so I’ve tried to transition myself away from those kinds of activities.  

Which part of your job do you enjoy the most? 

Customer interaction is nice. I like talking to people and I’m fairly personable. I have a good enough grasp of our products and technical concepts, so I hopefully I give them helpful answers. For the most part, the questions are fairly technical in nature coming from an engineer on the other side. Easy ones are answered before they even reach me.  

When I was in school, I liked engineering and problem solving. But I really liked math. Just the straight-up numbers on paper. I even watch a couple of YouTube channels that are just math videos. 3Blue1Brown is one of my favourites. He’s got some really, really cool animations on some intense mathematical concepts. I also watch other sciencey-engineering kind of stuff. One that I really like is Stuff Made Here. This guy has a whole shop with every tool you could want. And he makes some crazy fun stuff. Mark Rober is another popular one. He’s got some really good stuff too.  

What made you choose your profession? 

I’ve known from a pretty young age that I wanted to work in a technical field. My dad is a civil engineer. I remember growing up and talking to him and asking him: “Hey dad, what do you do?” Even in middle school and high school and knew I really liked math and was pretty good at it. And so when it came time to go to college, engineering seemed like an obvious choice. I didn’t consider anything else.  

I did bounce between what type of engineering I wanted to do: civil, electrical, mechanical, etc. I actually started construction management engineering at first, figuring that it would be a nice mix of engineering and leadership. I wanted leadership because I’ve got a bunch of that kind of experience through Scouts. I quickly realized that there was no engineering there. So I switched to electrical because it seemed most math-heavy.  

What makes you excited about your job? 

I’ve been here since the beginning, so I’ve had a chance to get my hands in all sorts of different stuff. Getting to work with the electrical guys, and the mechanical guys, and looking at the thermal simulations, and talking to people who work with firmware, etc.  

So my experience here has been quite wide. I got to do a lot of different things I wouldn’t have got to do elsewhere. I’d just be doing systems engineering only. I’ve got quite the breadth of experience here. I like being well rounded. 

What are you most proud of when it comes to your professional life and/or anything you’ve done at ePropelled? 

I’m proud of what we’ve done. Don’t get me wrong. I still think we have a long way to go. But when I started, we didn’t have anything. So to see us have built a whole facility, a couple of different product families, all this equipment, testing, procedures, documentation, etc. What we’ve been able to build up to this point, I’m fairly proud of. Give it another year, maybe I’ll be really proud.  

I feel like I haven’t accomplished much outside of ePropelled. The only other company I worked for was a small company that hired me out of college. I didn’t do a ton there. Certainly, what we’ve done at ePropelled has been more impressive.  

What do you need (personality- and interest-wise) to be a good engineer? 

You have to be curious. And be driven to work through and solve problems. It’s problem solving. If you have those qualities, you can find your home in engineering.  

What would you like to achieve in your job?  

Move towards management at some point. I like people and I like engineering. Engineering management is close enough to technical and not getting too far away from it while being able to manage a team towards a goal. I’ve dreamed of being a math professor in my old age. I did a bunch of math tutoring in college and I really enjoy the straight-up numbers. At some point I’d like to go back to school.  

Technology-wise, is there something you always wanted to invent or improve? 

Not really. But the biggest tech I’m looking forward to is probably EVs and self-driving cars. With my vision, not being able to drive is my biggest complaint. I hate not being able to drive. Honestly, it drives me nuts sometimes. Getting to the point where I could own a car, get into it and say: “Bring me here” and it would do it, that seems really cool to me.  

Does it bother you when you see badly-engineered tech or is it a chance for you to think about ways to make it better? 

Screwing up math irritates me. Bad engineering not really. Something that’s poorly engineered can be simply a first pass. It never happens right the first time. We can learn lessons from it though. It doesn’t bug me as much as poorly done math.  

What would you recommend to young people interested in engineering? 

Go for it. At the end of college, I tried to do a double degree: engineering and math. I didn’t have the time to do both. So I had to decide. My heart was with math, but engineering is more marketable. Engineering degree is probably one of the best ones you can have. It opens so many doors for you. So many people all over the place started their career there. It’s problem solving and you can apply those methods anywhere.  

In UAVs Reliability is Key

AVs need reliable tech to keep them flying. But, as we wrote before, this isn’t always the case. The number of UAV crashes is significant and often related to mechanical reliability of the machine. To keep the industry flying forward safely, we need to consider better tech. And with so much happening in the UAV space, it’s easy to miss the new and improved systems offered by companies such as ePropelled.  

We have the broadest range of electric propulsion and electrical power systems for mission-critical UAV applications. 

ePropelled electric propulsion systems include: 

  • Propulsion motors ranging from 500 watts to 12 kW  
  • Matching motor controllers  

Cooling and efficiency are key to our electric motors. Our brushless systems can provide better performance while surviving a great variety of operating conditions and offer improved efficiency and heat dissipation.  

ePropelled electric power systems include: 

  • Starter generators (SG) with enough torque to start the engine while providing power like an alternator 
  • Intelligent power systems (iPS) 
  • Electronic engine starters (EES) 

These components can be mixed and matched to supply 500 watts to 12 kW power.  

Hybrid applications 

We are the first vendor to enable hybrid-mode operations of a UAV power system, working with internal combustion engines to provide electrical power to the aircraft. The power systems offer UAV designers the unique option to optimize engine size while using the battery for range extension, emergency landing, or power assist on takeoff. 

The future of UAVs 

ePropelled’s high-performance systems rely on our patented technologies to meet the needs of all demanding applications. Our systems feature: 

  • Unique cooling technology to enable UAVs to fly higher in thinner air where cooling is a challenge 
  • Smarter systems—using standards-based CAN—that provide access to all sensor data 
  • Best-in-class power and thrust-to-weight ratio for outstanding performance 

Take a look here at some examples of what we can offer: 

iPS750 

iPS750 has a 28 V output and delivers over 750 W of total output power. It comes with an integrated electronic engine starter (EES) that can be used to drive the starter generator during the engine start sequence. 

iPS3000 

iPS3000 comes in either 28 V or 48 V output and delivers 3,000 W of total output power. There is an optional external electronic engine starter (EES) unit that can be used to drive the starter generator during the engine start sequence. 

SG750 

SG750 is small (fitting in the palm of your hand) and weighs just under one pound (440 g). It can produce up to 1,000 W of output power. 

SG3000 

SG3000 is small and weighs only 2.5 pounds (1,132 g). It can produce up to 4,000 W of output power. 

EES3000 

The EES3000 delivers a total output power of 3,000 W utilizing a 24 V input voltage. 

To learn more about our fantastic solutions and systems, email info@epropelled.com or download our datasheets. 

eDTS: Overview

We love answering questions about what we do! Questions are a sign of interest in our technology and there is nothing that excites us more than talking about than our technology. So below is a description that answers the few common questions about eDTS—the most revolutionary among our solutions—what it is and what it does. It’s adapted from a much longer paper, which you can download here, but if you need a shorter, condensed version, read on .

Dynamic Torque Switching™ is our patented magnetic gearing technology. The “e” in its name represents the technology’s flexible nature. It stands for electric, environmentally friendly, economical, efficient, emerging, etc. It’s a truly versatile solution that evades a simple description.

We focus on efficiency and our take on it is very broad and focused on getting more output from the same input, unlike other technologies. More specifically, we use energy more intelligently and economically to deliver superior performance.

The Future of Electric Propulsion

eDTS allows the electric motor to provide high torque at low speeds without drawing high current from the batteries. It also provides high speeds at low torque levels without using deep field weakening and at much reduced winding losses, thereby increasing the efficiencies throughout.

This technique utilizes the motor magnets and the motor windings in a way that improves the overall drive cycle efficiency, allowing the range of the vehicle to increase by at least 15%.

Thanks to eDTS, the speed and torque can be varied inside the motor which allows a single electric machine to dynamically engage several modes, each optimized for different points in the drive cycle.

Most motors’ highest power efficiency is only available in a very narrow band (a small island we refer to as a “sweet spot”) on the power map. This is because conventional technology must make a compromise between torque and efficiency, which is the main reason for limited range. In generic terms, traditional design has only one mode—one “sweet spot”—which is the operating condition where the motor delivers highest efficiency.

ePropelled’s technology provides multiple modes and, therefore, multiple “sweet spots”. eDTS allows vehicles to operate at maximum efficiency at a much wider efficiency band (a very large island) on the power map.

Multiple Motor Modes

eDTS reconfigures the motor modes using hardware and software. Each mode has different characteristics including torque profile, speed range, and constant power range, which means that our single motor can function as if it were multiple different motors, each ideally suited to a desired “sweet spot” on the curve and each area of high efficiency being additionally expanded.

Each mode is optimized to deliver different performance characteristics, such as high torque when starting from a stop and a seamless change to high efficiency at higher speeds. Since these needs change quickly and frequently when driving, our sophisticated software control is an essential aspect of the system.

Our technology allows the magnetic field pattern and other parameters of the electric machine to change, giving it the flexibility to operate optimally when controlled by the adaptive power electronics drive. The control system is designed to allow the transition between the modes to take place seamlessly to deliver optimum torque/speed/efficiency characteristic in real time.

Key Takeaways

Our solution produces a much more energy-efficient method of electric propulsion that increases driving range of the vehicle and life expectancy of the battery pack or allows for smaller batteries for the same range. This is a major improvement to today’s capabilities, and it better meets the expectations of the market, manufacturers, and consumers.

Among other advantages delivered by eDTS, it can:

  • Start the vehicle at low current compared to standard machines, increasing the driving range of the vehicle.
  • Offer higher starting torque and extended constant power when compared to other machines.
  • Take lesser current compared to standard motor.
  • Increase the maximum torque and maximum speed of the motor.
  • Select the most efficient mode based on vehicle demand, which will save the battery energy and increase driving range.
  • Reduce the battery size and cost.
  • Implement the cruise mode in vehicle with less current.

ePropelled Unveils Energy-Efficient Electric Pump Motors for Pool, Spa, and Industrial Applications

Variable-Speed Motors Improve Energy Efficiency to Reduce Environmental Impact

LOWELL, Mass. | December 6, 2022 – ePropelled, a provider of leading-edge electric propulsion systems and power generation solutions, today announced a new line of energy-efficient electric pump motors designed to be used with pools, spas, and industrial applications. The motors provide optimized energy efficiency, reduced noise, and are compact and lightweight. These innovations allow manufacturers to save energy and money, while delivering better overall value to customers.

Forrester data shows that 68% of consumers plan to increase efforts to identify brands that reduce environmental impact. At the same time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that more than half of the electricity used in manufacturing powers various motors. ePropelled’s environmentally-friendly motors give industry and manufacturing leaders an opportunity to reduce harmful greenhouse emissions by replacing their motors and systems with improved designs.

Available immediately, ePropelled’s new line of six motors include:

  • SM1650 series for pool – A 1.65hp variable speed motor that is approximately 90% efficient with a programable interface.
  • SM1650 series for spa – A 1.65hp variable speed motor that is approximately 90% efficient.
  • SM3000 series for pool – A 3hp variable speed motor that is approximately 90% efficient with a programable interface.
  • SM3000 series for spa – A 3hp variable speed motor that is approximately 90% efficient.
  • SM1650 series for industrial applications – A 1.65hp variable speed motor designed for industrial environments such as large-volume fluid management, pressurizing water/fluid, chemical processing, water movement and more.  
  • SM3000 series for industrial applications – A 3.0hp variable speed motor designed for industrial environments such as large-volume fluid management, pressurizing water/fluid, chemical processing, water movement and more.

All the Sustainability Motors are compact and lightweight for easier installation, and their quiet performance makes them more comfortable for consumers. Noise pollution is a problem with pump motors in general, whether for residential pools or other commercial uses. In addition, the new motors’ variable speed capabilities optimize pump motor efficiency, reduce energy costs, and allow manufacturers to easily add new features and functions.

“Our new energy-efficient electric pump motors have less impact on the environment and are powerful enough not only for pools and spas, but many other applications within industrial markets,” said Nick Grewal, CEO, president and founder of ePropelled. “Variable speed pump motors are more efficient, which creates more sustainable products, systems and operations and can reduce costs. This is a win-win for manufacturers and consumers alike.”

ePropelled is focused on designing and producing energy-efficient motors and related technology for a variety of sectors, with a particular focus on the industrial pump motor market. Target markets include HVAC, pool, spa, water and wastewater, and other large industrial applications. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), electric motors and systems account for about 40% of electricity consumption globally.

About ePropelled

ePropelled designs state of the art motors, generators, and power management systems. Our technology helps reduce energy consumption and improve system efficiency at a lower cost in the aerospace, manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, electric vehicles, and pump motor markets. We are a leader in magnetics engineering, and our patented technology innovations are used in the air, land, and water, defining the future of electric propulsion.  

ePropelled has offices in the United States, Europe, and India and collaborates with manufacturers of all types and sizes around the world. For more information, please visit epropelled.com.

Contact

Victoria, Corporate Marcom Manager
+1 (978) 703-1350
Email: Info@ePropelled.com

Gritty or Nice? Grit Daily Interview With Our CEO, Nick Grewal

Our founder and CEO, Nick Grewal, caught the eye of the Grit Daily podcast, which interviews “founders of some of the best-known startups, marketers, and venture capitalists.” The podcast aims to share reliable information about brands and entrepreneurial tips with its listeners, while discovering how investors and thought leaders became successful.  

EVs  

The host was curious to learn about Nick’s background, but she was also curious to learn about ePropelled products and what makes them so innovative. This was especially true of our EV motors. Nick pointed out how easy it is, while discussing electric options of transportation, to forget that the energy that feeds EV batteries needs to be cleaner.  

Most countries still burn coal or gas to create electricity, the grids are dirty and, although manufacturers and end users want EV batteries to be efficient, most people don’t concentrate on how the electricity itself is used in the motors. 

That’s why ePropelled focuses on making the motors much more efficient (at least 15% more efficient, in fact). This way, they use less energy, extending the life of the batteries and needing less electricity from the grid.  

UAVs 

The host touched on ePropelled UAV products and encouraged Nick to talk about our recent customers, Aerotor. While considering our drone products, Nick said: “I’m not sure if anyone else is doing what we’re doing. Turning a motor into a generator and a generator into a motor on the fly.”  

He elaborated by explaining that ePropelled focuses on two main areas for drones: propulsion and motor controllers. But we also address the power needs. Normally, there are two ways to propel a drone: batteries or a gas engine. Batteries are heavy and for a large drone this means 40 minutes of flight time. A small gas engine is needed to go beyond 40 minutes.  

What ePropelled offers is a hybrid-ready mode, which means that a starer generator is used to start the engine and generate energy. When the machine needs maximum power (for takeoff or the initial climb, for example), our technology can assist the gas engine, significantly extending the drone’s flight time.  

Technology focus 

When asked about his company, Nick stressed that ePropelled is a technology company. As such, we build our technology, get patents, and make sure our inventions are protected. In the past three years, we have filed 35 patents. For such a small company, this is a huge deal. But what really differentiates us from the competition is that fact that we are not a manufacturing company.  

Contract manufacturing (CM) is our focus and find good manufacturers to build our products for the customer. But there is also no reason not to let our customers manufacture our products themselves, speeding up the process and potentially making it cheaper for them. 

Business tips 

When asked about his failures, Nick said that “every company in the world has problems. Their size doesn’t matter. What I want is mistakes.” He explained that not making mistakes is synonymous with working for a huge company that rewards stagnation and lack of imagination. We encourage mistakes and learning from them quickly. “You learn much more by losing than winning,” he said. 

When talking about success in business, Nick pointed out that you always have to be aware of your surroundings. Your success is dependent on the rest of the world, not necessarily on what you do inside the company. You have to be aware of your environment. That’s why Nick enjoys traveling and learning about his customers and their needs in person. But he also finds it important to learn about and respect our competitors because they might come up with things we wouldn’t think of.  

His other piece of advice pertained to black swan events. In technology, these used to happen every 100-200 years. Now they happen every 20. Such events can wipe out entire companies, no matter what they do or how big they are. Especially if the owners/founders make themselves indispensable. Nick believes that you have to build your company in a way that makes you irrelevant to its survival. 

The interview covered a lot more ground, despite being only half an hour long. If you want to learn more, you can listen to the whole podcast here. 

Employee Engagement Isn’t One Size Fits All. An Interview with a Leader.

Here is a little look into the mind of a manufacturing director and his take on employee engagement. We recently interviewed Wayne Bouvier to share a little more about who we are, what we do, and what our employees find important about their jobs. Enjoy. 

As the director of manufacturing, how many people do you have working with you? 

At this point, as the Lowell operation is just ramping up, I only have four direct reports with two open positions that we are currently recruiting to fill. 

What type of managerial style do you have? 

Early on in my career I began to practice leadership through coaching and mentorship. Most employees have various backgrounds and experiences and I believe that managers can help to grow an employee’s knowledge and career path through this practice. It not only benefits the employee but the employer as well. 

Do you think it’s important to tweak managerial style depending on the person? 

Absolutely. Just like everyone contributes in different ways. It is important to understand the individual, their passions, their career goals so that we can properly set performance expectations. 

What does your day-to-day work look like? 

My day starts early with some meetings beginning as early as 4:30 A.M. As we are a young company, it is a mix of supervision, hands on participation in procurement, planning, manufacturing, and quality control activities.  

Is it hard to mix management with hands-on work? 

I would not say it is easy, but most of my career has been working in start-up environments. Like anything else, it is important to set priorities, and avoid distractions as much as possible. Number one focus is always employee safety.  

What do you think employee engagement means for a company? 

Employee engagement can mean the success or failure of a company. To me, it is a barometer of the company’s culture. Organizations, at a minimum, should engage in open communications and active listening to address the needs of their staff. Failure to do so can foster low productivity and morale, which leads to high employee turnover. 

Speaking from your 35 years of experience in the electronics manufacturing sector, what’s the good way to do it and what’s the absolutely worst way to do it? 

Establish a team environment where all ideas are welcome. Recognize and reward performance that goes beyond expectations. Hold townhall meetings with senior leadership to report corporate successes and strategies, employee highlights, and customer feedback, good or bad. 

The worst way is to close off communications and discourage active participation through a dictatorship management style. 

Have you seen it done well? 

Yes, my time spent at Schneider Electric. They are the benchmark against which all companies should measure their business practices. Fortune ranked them #7 in 2020. 

How do you think it can be achieved? 

While it is a simple premise, keep an open dialog with your employees. Listen to what they are saying and address those concerns. Commit to and discuss inclusion, diversity, and teamwork. Recognize your best performers. If you have performers of the month, have other employees nominate that person or persons. 

What Is a Hybrid UAV and How Does It Work?

A variety of options among UAV power systems allows for more choices based on different mission parameters. UAVs can be either fully electric, powered by internal combustion engines (ICE), or operate in a hybrid mode, where the UAV power system works with ICE to provide electrical power to the aircraft when necessary.

The hybrid mode offers UAV designers the option of optimizing engine size while using the battery for range extension, emergency landing, or power assist on takeoff. As a result, a smaller engine will work in situations that demand high power and the range of the aircraft can be extended thanks to the option of using battery power.

This mode relies on electric support and, as a side note, it’s important to remember that batteries need to be versatile to offer reliable power in fully electric or hybrid applications. They shouldn’t simply store energy, but also release it efficiently, enable onboard charging, and be dependable in hybrid mode. Batteries need to enable all types of missions and fulfill multiple parameters.

What Can a Hybrid Offer?

A starter generator in an ICE machine can be changed from power-generation mode to power-assist mode, enabling it to draw power from the battery and use it for propulsion, thereby supplementing the engine. Starter generators can act like range extenders, powering the propulsion motors during maneuvers. They can also switch to generator mode, extracting power from the ICE to charge batteries and flight instruments. The quality of such range extension depends on the power conversion rate (the energy from fuel converted to electric power with minimum losses).

Hybrids use propulsion motors that rely on battery power during maneuvers and forward flight utilizing the pusher propeller that is fitted to the main ICE which, in turn, uses oil to power it. Using range extenders eliminates the need to carry an additional power source, since they can extract power from ICE directly.

A mode of operation that combines an internal combustion engine with electric propulsion and onboard power generation fulfills differing power requirements for takeoff and steady flight. Usually, such differing requirements cause the engine not to be very fuel efficient.

Is It Worth It?

Hybrid mode operations of a UAV power system work with internal combustion engines to provide electrical power to the aircraft. It allows for a smaller engine in situations that demand high power (such as takeoff) or to extend the range of the aircraft using battery power.

The right hybrid solutions can keep weight and cost down while extending flight time and allowing the aircraft to be self-contained when starting the engine.

For example, an ePropelled hybrid mode combines:

An existing combustion engine

Our combined stater generator and propulsion motor

Our intelligent air motor controller with a built-in electronic engine starter, and

Our intelligent power system (PMU)

These modular components can be mixed and matched to supply from 500 watts to 12 kW of power.

If you want to learn more about hybrid ready UAVs, contact us and we’ll be happy to chat.

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