Taiwan is positioning itself as a leading supplier of components for electric vehicles (EVs). It is estimated Taiwan’s production of auto electronics for EVs was worth US$3-billion in 2010, and is likely to increase three-fold in the next five years. Estimates from the Rocky Mountain Institute (a US-based research group) last year predict approximately 1 million EVs on US roads by 2015. And this is likely to go up by five times by 2020.
Helping Taiwan to position itself at the front of the field is Chroma ATE, which specializes in the manufacture of testing and measuring instruments. The company passed a new milestone in expanding in the automotive industry supply chain with its ISO/TS 16949 certification, received in October 2010. The ISO/TS 16949 is an international quality management system standard that incorporates the global automotive industry quality systems to define the standards from research, development, production and installation to maintenance and service.
Chroma ATE says that it has gained extensive knowledge through participation in the power electronics test industry by providing solutions throughout different phases of product development and fabrication. Chroma ATE offers various AC/DC power source and electronic load products with a broad selection of power ratings, ranging from several hundred watts to a few hundred kilowatts, which can be used to test EV/PHEV related components and devices.
However, these test solutions are not limited to power supply testing, and are offered throughout the EV/PHEV industry. Utilizing the products in conjunction with its versatile Automated Test System, Chroma ATE is able to provide a full range of test solutions for EV/PHEV related applications such as battery storage system, EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment), on-board charger, DC/DC converter, motor traction drivers, etc.
The Chroma ATS (Automatic Test System) addresses the specialized effort involved in testing the power electronics during both the development and production phases. The benefits of implementing ATS are not limited to the reduction of manpower and prevention of human error – they also include advanced features such as automatic test data recording and creation of statistical analytical reports for later design review or product improvement. There are custom-built systems that are designed specifically for certain power electronic units. However, these systems are usually difficult to maintain and lack flexibility.
“These shortcomings will definitely impede the product development process as test methodologies evolve. The Chroma 8000 ATS is a standard test platform that can solve the conventional problem of self designed ATS’s for power electronics testing. It includes a wide range of hardware choices such as AC/DC power supplies, electronic loads, power analyzers, oscilloscopes, digital multi-meters, as well as various digital/analog I/O cards. This flexibility combined with an open architecture gives the user a flexible, powerful and cost effective test system for the EV/HEV power electronics,” says the company.
Chroma ATE is also part of an alliance that aims to develop an indigenous EV in Taiwan. The main aim of the alliance is to promote the development of EV chassis systems and parts, and to establish the Taiwan Chassis Co. (TCC) to help the local EV industry develop in a healthy way and tap into global supply chains. The new alliance is expected to help accelerate the development of the EV industry in Taiwan. The members of the alliance include assembled-vehicle makers (HAITEC and KYMCO), a chassis maker (Lioho), a motor manufacturer (Teco), a motor-driver maker (EVT), lithium-ion battery makers (Amita and C-Life), a materials supplier (China Steel), and EV testing solution provider (Chroma ATE).
Automotive Industries spoke to Galen Chou, director of Chroma ATE, and asked him to tell us about the new alliance in which Chroma ATE is playing a critical role.
Chou: Each of the alliance members has its own expertise which could contribute to the overall EV industry development in Taiwan. Chroma’s strength is its capability in EV testing solutions which would help those EV related component developers and EV makers to verify their products and quality. Taiwan automakers definitely have the capability to develop an indigenous electrical vehicle, mainly BEV. Though they may not have strong past record in developing ICE cars, EV is a new game and is providing them a new opportunity to enter this market. Along with local government support and key components suppliers, who could leverage their successful business model as in the IT industry, an indigenous EV is not a dream.
AI: Tell us about the timing of the alliance – why now?
Chou: Just like other countries, the Taiwanese government is hoping EV will become the next star industry for Taiwan. It’s important to bring key players together in the early stage of the EV era to form a team and contribute to each respective area of knowledge. This alliance could also provide a platform to validate its technology on the running EV chassis, including the powertrain, power battery pack, interface, and integratability, etc. Members can exchange ideas and discuss the standards to accelerate the EV industry development.
AI: What are some of Chroma ATE’s strengths in the EV market?
Chou: Chroma has 26 years of solid power electronics testing experience. Since EV is all about electricity and power, Chroma can leverage its experience and technical knowledge to provide EV testing solutions. We can also work with EV automakers to provide customized automated test system (ATS) for lab testing and production in-line testing for quality check.
AI: How has the ISO/TS 16949 certification helped your company in the EV sector?
Chou: As a measurement and testing solution provider, demanding its own products with precision, reliability and uniqueness, Chroma has pursued excellence since its establishment. Receiving the ISO/TS 16949 is just another milestone of quality assurance for our automotive customers.
AI: Tell us about the Chroma ATS and what gives it an edge over similar products.
Chou: Chroma’s ATS features open-architecture platform software, allowing users to easily expand test functions in the future. We offer a complete line of power testing instruments including AC and DC power sources and electronic loads with a broad selection of power ratings used for EV related components and device testing. These versatile instruments integrated into Chroma’s ATS platform provide a full range of test solutions such as on-board charger, DC/DC converter units, etc.
AI: What are some of the technological advantages Chroma ATE can offer automakers?
Chou: Chroma can offer automakers technological advantages in two stages, one in RD and testing lab stage, and the other in car assembly process. During RD and testing lab stage, Chroma’s EV testing solution can help automakers’ quality assurance of EV related components, shorten development time, and provide accurate data for analysis and decision making of product improvement. Secondly, during the assembly stage, our in-line EV testing ATS can improve automakers’ EV car assembly process by providing full functional tests for related power electronics. Automation of testing also reduces the labor cost and the chance of human error.
Consequently, Chroma’s value to automakers is to help automakers to improve their cost structure by reducing time for product testing, and to increase the EV quality and safety.