Saft claims ‘breakthrough’ into China’s robotics sector with lithium order for STEP Electric Corporation

Saft, a manufacturer of advanced technology batteries, claimed in mid-September it had made a “strategic breakthrough” into China’s fast growing industrial robot sector with its first order for STEP Electric Corporation, a public National High-Tech Enterprise specializing in industrial automation.

STEP Electric Corporation is installing Saft’s primary lithium batteries in its new generation robots to back up the memory in their on-board positioning systems when they are powered down.

The Saft batteries enable the robots to remember what position they were in when the power was interrupted, allowing them to recommence operations when the power supply is restored.

A 2015 report by the National Robot Development Forum showed that in 2000 China had only 380 sets of robots — all imported. By 2013, China had 37,000 robots and had become the world’s fastest growing user of industrial robots.

In 2014, this figure had risen to about 56,000 sets, of which more than 10,000 sets were made locally in China. With more than 40 robot industrial parks across China and over 500 robot enterprises, the country is now the world’s largest producer of industrial robots.

STEP Electric Corporation has selected Saft’s primary lithium LS14500 cells to provide over three years of back-up power for the robot positioning systems — well in excess of the anticipated 24,000 hours service life of the robots.

The LS14500 cell design is optimized for base currents of a few µA with periodic pulses in the 5–150 mA range.

“This order for STEP Electric Corporation is a key strategic development for Saft that provides an entry into China’s robotics sector,” said Thomas Alcide, general manager of Saft’s Specialty Battery Group.

“It is particularly significant since China will be the major player in the global robot sector that is anticipated to form a trillion dollar market by 2025.”