CEO interview: Dukosi ramps up for volume wireless BMS chip production

CEO interview: Dukosi ramps up for volume wireless BMS chip production

Interviews |
By Nick Flaherty

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UK wireless battery management chip developer Dukosi is about to start shipping its devices to customers for energy storage systems (ESS) as the market for automotive BMS devices takes off.

Nat Edington, CEO of Dukosi in Edinburgh, updates Nick Flaherty at eeNews Europe on the recent progress of its wireless BMS technology.

The Edinburgh-based company has developed a wireless system for monitoring battery packs using near field communications to link to a large loop antenna. This gives more flexibility for designers of battery packs for electric vehicles, industrial vehicles and for new and second-life cells in ESS applications.

“We have now got production silicon in customer hands and we are just doing the final qualification,” said Edington.  “Our business plan right from the start was that automotive was a very important market but its takes a long time to get into production so the business had us shipping product into stationary storage and industrial transportation, robotics, construction equipment, that’s exactly how things are working out,” he said,

“We are finding our communications protocol with hundreds of cells on one antenna is of interest. We can get very reliable communications in several mm and that allows them to design scalable battery packs without having to re-simulate the system each time,” he said.

“The first product is a chipset of two devices and that’s with key customers and we will have the full qualification complete by the end of this year for AECQ100 and ASIL-C for an ASIL-D system. Everything is on track and we have customers aligning their timescales for that so we have started looking at our next products for the second half of this year.

Scaling chip design teams

“We are scaling chip development to more than one design team, with customer specific variants, our own versions and the development of other product lines,” he said. “These are complementary products and what we are looking at is still within the BMS doing other sensing that would expand our footprint and offering, then we are looking beyond the BMS.

The parts are made by GlobalFoundries in Singapore on an automotive process and that can be made in Dresden as well, with packaging by Amkor in the Philippines. The main issue is second source supply rather than supply chain constraints, he says, as well as expanding the teams of chip designers.

“The plan is to ramp up next year and we have a very aggressive plan,” he said, “Tens of millions of units is a minute part of the market, and with fabless you can scale up quickly. We funded the development well in the last three years and qualified the fabs so when you start to ship its easy to go into high volume.”

With new offices in the centre of Edinburgh, the company is taking on Analog Devices, Infineon and Texas Instruments who have all launched wireless BMS chips in recent years.

“From an organisation we are now up to 100 people and opened a second European base in Munich with sales and marketing, We have sales in US, France, HK, two offices in China, Korea so there has been quite an expansion on the commercial team and we are working with customers in all those areas,” he said. “We are bringing on more people in software and chip design, I would say we will be adding 20 to 30 people over the next 12 months.”

Future direction

“Another direction is to add more analysis down at the cell level,” said Eddington. “There is a lot of talk of EIS [electrochemical impedance spectroscopy] and that will be part of the solution but we are really looking to develop more data analytics. We measure the temperature of each cell and EIS and other things will be part of the solution. What we see in the market is more requirement to measure each cell.”

“The time to get into this market is now,” he says. “Its still immature, so it gives us the opportunity to drive our wireless BMS into the market and that will be more difficult in several years time as the market will have matured. For next year and the start of the ramp up that’s lined up with them now with more detailed planning for 2025 for non-automotive applications.”

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