15. Caring for Your Batteries from Birth to Retirement 6

GUIDE: Batteries in a portable world. 15. Caring for Your Batteries from Birth to Retirement 6

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15.5 The Quick Fix

Checking a battery and assessing its status within a few minutes is one thing — finding a solution and actually fixing the problem is another. Increasingly, customers and dealers alike are seeking an alternative solution to replacing the batteries under warranty. They want a quick fix.

Fully automated test procedures are being developed which check the battery and apply a quick-prime program to wake up a sleeping battery. The program will last from a few minutes for an easy wake-up call, to an hour or longer for the deep-sleepers.

Batteries with minor deficiencies will be serviced while the customer enjoys a cup of coffee or browses through the store. If the battery has an electrical short or does not accept a charge, the likelihood of revitalizing the battery is slim. This pack is eliminated within seconds to clear the test equipment for other batteries. If a pack requires extensive priming, which will take a few hours to complete, the customer is asked to come back later.

Some battery analyzers indicate the estimated service time after the battery has passed through the early assessment stages. The customer can decide to wait, buy a spare battery, or come back for the repaired battery the next day.

A complete battery cycle offers the best service. Such a service makes optimal use of the restorative abilities of a battery analyzer. A full cycle may take five to eight hours and can be applied overnight. Multi-bay analyzers that service several batteries at the same time increase the throughput. Such analyzers operate 24 hours without user intervention.

A customer may not have time to wait for the outcome of a battery test. The prospect of having to buy a new battery is even less appealing. In such a case, a class B or replacement battery may be the answer. This pack can be drawn from a pool of refurbished batteries, which the store has built up from previous returns. This could become a lucrative side business as customers begin to realize the cost saving potential, especially if the battery is accompanied by a performance report.

Some battery analyzers offer ultra-fast charge functions. The maximum permissible charge current that can be applied to a battery is dictated by the battery’s ability to absorb charge. A fit battery, or one that has a partial charge, would charge to the 70 percent level in 30 minutes or less. A 70 percent charge level is often sufficient to complete a performance test or quick-fill the battery for a hurried customer. The topping charge from there to full charge is what demands the long charge time.

Some late model battery analyzers also offer a quick priming program that services a battery in a little more than an hour. This program applies an ultra-fast charge and ultra-fast discharge to check the integrity of the battery. By virtue of cycling, some priming and conditioning activities occur.

Customers demand a quick turnaround when a mobile phone fails. Manufacturers and service providers realize that better methods are needed to handle customer returns. The expensive and wasteful battery exchange policies practiced today may no longer be acceptable in the future. Fierce competition and tight product margins are part of the reason. Returned batteries account for a considerable after-sale burden. With modern technology, these costs can be reduced while improving customer service and enhancing satisfaction.

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