ACE Power Electronics Ltd. is a company specialising in power electronics. It was founded in 1990 and is located in the Aghios Demetrios region (5, Pipinou str., GR-17342 Aghios Demetrios) of Athens, Greece. Its goal is the design, production, sales and support of systems in the area of power electronics. It employs 16 persons, out of which 9 are engineers, 2 technicians, 3 employees and 2 learning technicians alternating every 6 months. Our customers are companies from Greek and international market that use advanced UPS, like Singular, AKTOR, GEONET, ELECTRORAMA in Greece and Banattika SRL at abroad.
It currently has a large number of products including single and three phase AC voltage stabilisers, stand-by and on-line uninterruptible power supplies, DC/AC inverters etc. The objective of this experiment was to upgrade the control units of the above products using a digital control system that will replace the discrete active devices currently used for control and display of various electric characteristics of the aforementioned products. This new control unit consists of an external micro controller and a mixed analogue-digital ASIC.
The existing product possesses an analogue control unit that needs many adjustments. This has as a result fabrication delays, quality hazards, increased rates of malfunctions and limited processing capabilities. Additionally the control unit, due to its many discrete components, needs to be fitted on a large PCB. The new product possesses a digital control unit, which has substantially increased processing capabilities. At the same time it needs considerably fewer components, thus increasing the MTBF of the product. It provides easy communication facilities with a PC and an ease of introducing new control possibilities by upgrading just the software; PCB re-design will not be necessary!
The Application Experiment started in March 1997 and ended in May 1998; it resulted in the production of a pre-industrial prototype of a 900VA UPS unit. The ASIC was manufactured using 0.8 um CMOS AMS technology. The company invested a total of 24,4 person months in the project and the total cost of the experiment was 122 K EURO (funded completely by FUSE). The ASIC will be fitted to the control units of all ACE products (UPS and stabilisers). It is expected that the break-even point for the investment will come at around month 18 of the products' introduction to the market and that the FUSE ROI for the expected lifetime of the products will be around 440 %. By producing the new units including the ASIC, it is expected that, in year 2001, there will be an increase in companys market share to 13,5% of the market.
The main lessons learned from this experiment have mainly to do with the barriers that the company initially faced. The technological barriers are not that important as it was initially thought; more difficult are the barriers associated with knowledge and psychology. The financial barriers are also easily overcome if a good design house is chosen and EUROPRACTICE services sought. Project management was also an important lesson with particular attention to the time and effort spent on the various tasks. A good co-operation with the design house and learning from their experiences helps avoid many problems. Of particular importance is the need to arrive at a very good specification describing the exact properties of the product. Also a considerable amount of effort should be devoted to simulation and design prior to manufacturing, since the actual needs seem to be usually underestimated.
|You can also benefit from microelectronics
Mixed Signal ASIC technology provided ACE Power Electronics Ltd. with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.
FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.
FUSE provides you with:
- Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
- Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.
Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.