As part of our Innovators Series we talk to Kerry Green, Director for European Support Engineering at Curtis Instruments UK, to learn more about future industry trends and opportunities!
As Director for European Support Engineering for Curtis Instruments UK, Kerry has responsibility for new business development, application engineering and knowledge flow between the global teams within Curtis. He started his career as an electronics test engineer working with high power, high stability, DC power supplies for the nuclear research industry before moving into the development of GPS navigation receivers and the automation of test systems. Curtis was a logical progression where DC high power and digital control systems are combined into vehicle control.
What key trends are you seeing in the EV technology industry?
Traditionally Curtis has three core business markets, Materials Handling, Mobility and Recreational. All sectors are changing with the development of technology. We also have new market sectors such as construction and agriculture which are moving into electrification. Vehicle manufacturers want more for less. Less cost, less space, more performance and this applies to the control systems and the battery power source. OEM’s often do not have the specialism required for the development and integration of these complex systems so they prefer to work with Curtis who have decades of experience in this area. This has the dual benefits of fast project development with the security of proven designs.
We see the steady deployment of Li-Ion batteries into a range of vehicles which do not require the dead weight of Lead Acid, which is useful as a counterweight on a fork lift, but not good for a golf car or an excavator. Telemetry is surely making good progress and with smart technology vehicle and operator performance can be monitored remotely so providing better operational efficiency. Motor control systems are moving to higher voltages as cost is reduced through mass production of high voltage components driven by the automotive industry.
What are the biggest challenges Curtis Instruments are currently experiencing?
We are very optimistic about post Covid-19 and Curtis remained fully operation through the initial Covid-19 lockdown. We find that our customer’s R&D teams are very active, so we have been busier than ever in helping with the next generation of EV development. With our view over the horizon, it’s exciting to see what is close to release, but we have to keep confidential about these things.
Curtis are developing the new range of F-series motor controllers which use the ARM Cortex processors which are so powerful they offer better vehicle performance and systems integration. The next generation of instrumentation and telemetry products are under way and our new Curtis Integrated Toolkit access all these products at the same time over the CANbus, so offering full integration of technology.
Why was Hyperdrive chosen to be Curtis Instruments’ partner?
Curtis responds to customer demand and we see the increasing demand for increased power density and shorter charging times for the more advanced electric machines. I hold back from using the term EV as many are more robot than vehicle.
Hyperdrive has enabled confidence for us and customers alike. In the early days, a lot of Li-Ion systems were very “homemade” and quite unreliable. We like many things about Hyperdrive, the modularity of design, local production, local support, high quality and future proofing. The products are easy to integrate and we have the full support of Hyperdrive on all applications.
What are the future plans for Curtis Instruments in the north east?
In response to phenomenal organic growth we hit the limits on our present motor control development facility in the Silicon Valley California. We also see Europe specific requirements in motor control as emissions reduction laws push the development of EV into new sectors, so it made good sense to have a European facility.
The North East has a lot of good things going for it, besides Newcastle Brown Ale. Historically it has a core skill set in the motor control, power electronics sector so we could recruit the right people for the job. There are generous grants for opening a tech facility in the North East, a great skilled workforce around the automotive industry and Hyperdrive are already there. What could be better?
Electrification of construction and agricultural equipment is a big opportunity. It’s starting small and cautious, but the tide is set and most OEM’s have a phase out of Internal Combustion engines in their business plan. Curtis are partnering, listening and adapting to the requirements of these markets and our UK engineering centre is testament to this.
And lastly, if you could invent one thing, what would it be?
I would really like to invent a successful fusion reactor so we could get rid of nuclear and fossil fuels. I do feel for our children who will have to deal with what we leave behind.
About Curtis Instruments
Curtis Instruments is a privately owned company headquartered in Mt.Kisco, New York, USA, with sales and support offices located throughout the world. They develop vehicle control and instrumentation systems for industrial, mobility and recreational vehicles. Their philosophy is to partner with key suppliers of electric motors, charger and batteries and to work with OEM’s to facilitate the optimum development of electric vehicle integration, so providing very cost effective solutions. Their people are our most important resource and we operate with close cooperation between all global subsidiaries.