Covid-19 drives boom in home healthcare power adapters

Covid-19 drives boom in home healthcare power adapters

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By Nick Flaherty

The Coronavirus outbreak is driving a boom in demand for medical equipment for home healthcare, says a leading maker of power adapters.

Power supply maker CUI is increasing production of AC-DC power adapters for home medical equipment. The company split from CUI Devices last year as part of a restructuring of CUI Global. The power business is now part of the Bel Fuse group that also supplies power fuses, transformers and connectors.

“We service four broad markets, and medical is enormous,” said Kraig Kawada, general manager of CUI. “What we see is a larger market for us in home healthcare, and typically that’s lower power. We currently are not supporting any ventilator companies so we don’t have an issue there but we are getting requests to provide thousands of adapters immediately, we were having that discussion yesterday. The lead time on low power adapters is probably 4 to 6 weeks, now its 6 to 8 from what we are seeing and 10 to 12 for higher power adapters.” 

“There’s a supply chain issue to build from zero to finished product and no one was expecting that surge in medical equipment,” he said.  “The bulk of our business is adapters, which allows engineers to design it in as late as possible. Our DC-DC strategy is focussed on 25W with standard pinouts.”

This comes after the acquisition in December last year.

“For CUI global there was two pieces of business on the electromechanical portfolio, the component side and the power piece that was sold to Bel Fuse.  The location is the same, the warehouse is the same to all intents and purposes,” said Kawada. “Bel Fuse has left us alone. We were managing our own engagement and our direction remains the same as it was before, and Bel has been in the electronic component business for 70 years.” 

Next: AC-DC GaN power adapters and IoT

“There is a synergy in products – we are focussed in an area where Bel didn’t have offering, and we are serving two different customer bases,“ he said. “It’s been four months and there’s little overlap in products – our roadmaps are independent. We aren’t looking above 600W so there’s little overlap. The main benefit has been stability at corporate level. I’m not being asked to develop products, or move production,” he said.

The company is designing new adapters with gallium nitride devices from GaN Systems. The  higher frequency switching allows smaller adapters.

“The IoT smart home consumer space is very large not just with large tier ones and new entrants and there’s a lot of opportunity for lower wattage DC-DC devices there, so the IoT space is one of the larger opportunities. There’s new ideas coming up all the time,” he said.

“Everyone talks about focussing on the customer but we trying to really do that. On the adapter side, you can ship an adapter, but they all look the same, When we talk to customers to provide a solution that matches their system, whether it’s a different case colour, or their logo, or different plugs, we really do quite a bit of semi-customisation at fairly low volumes,” he said.

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