Other news of interest

Powerbox releases its United Nations Global Compact Communication On Progress report 2018
Posted: 2019-12-20

Powerbox, one of Europe’s largest power supply companies and a leading force for four decades in optimizing power solutions for demanding applications, has announced the release of its 2018 Communication On Progress report as a participant in the United Nations Global Compact initiative. The Communication on Progress (COP) is an annual disclosure through which Powerbox (PRBX) informs stakeholders about its efforts to implement the ten principles of the United Nations (UN) Global Compact initiative.

In this first annual Communication on Progress, Powerbox describes its actions to continually improve the integration of the United Nations Global Compact’s ten principles into its business strategy, culture and daily operations. As part of Powerbox’s Environmental, Social and Governances (ESG) strategy, it has implemented and strengthened processes, guaranteeing the highest respect for human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption.

“I am pleased to confirm that Powerbox has reaffirmed its support of the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption,” said Martin Sjöstrand, CEO at Powerbox. “Additionally, we are also committed to sharing this information with our stakeholders using our primary channels of communication.”

Human Rights – Powerbox conducts employee training and follow-ups during the employee yearly evaluation period. It has also implemented the Powerbox Supplier Handbook with a focus on suppliers’ engagement and obligations towards human rights, with follow-ups through audits.

Labor – At Powerbox, culture and clarity are very important and best practices are implemented within the group for transparency and efficiency. Employee meetings are conducted on a regular basis, and also in the case of extraordinary events in order to share company news. All employees have access to the PRBX Intranet as publishers to share news, points of interest, opinions and others. The CEO and the management team operate an open office philosophy that is available to all employees.

Environment - Powerbox is forever working hard to minimize its negative footprint while simultaneously striving to optimize the positive one. An integral part of this process is the inclusion of the United Nations Global Compact 10 principles in our way of working and in our company philosophy. One example of our commitment to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals is our ongoing support to VI-Skogen and Vi-Agroforestry, which is a Swedish development organization working towards poverty reduction and environmental improvements through tree planting.

“Since 2017, we have supported Vi Agroforestry, a development aid organization that has been working for tree planting and poverty reduction in east Africa for over 35 years. Last year, Vi Agroforestry planted over five million trees, thus combating poverty and climate change,” said Patrick Le Fèvre CMO/CCO and ESG Ambassador at Powerbox. “As part of our UNGC engagement, through our partnership with Vi-Skogen and Vi-Agroforestry, we support Sustainable Development Goals 15 (Life on Land) but also 1 (No poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 5 (Gender equality), and 13 (Climate action).”

Anti-Corruption - Powerbox provides adequate training for all employees consistent with the company’s risk profile and appropriate to employee responsibilities. We also have in place a whistleblower system of any suspicion of corruption or bribery.

We care for our society - Powerbox’s environment, social and governance (ESG) principles are endorsed by all employees, all over the world. It encourages local engagement supporting the UN Global Compact corporate responsibility initiative and its ten principles. From the small to the large, many projects have been initiated within Powerbox in all countries that the company has a presence.

Powerbox has reaffirmed its support of the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption

For more information visit www.prbx.com

International Workshop on Integrated Power Packaging (IWIPP) 2019
Posted: 2018-12-11

The International Workshop on Integrated Power Packaging (IWIPP) is a biennial, multi-disciplinary event focused on the intersection of technology areas that support the development of high-performance packaging for power electronics.  The accelerating commercialization of wide band-gap (WBG) semiconductors has highlighted the importance of developing next-generation packaging techniques to overcome the limitations of legacy packaging solutions.  The establishment of IWIPP represents a concentrated effort to recognize and address this challenge by bringing together the capabilities of industry practitioners and researchers across the globe.

In 2015, IWIPP reemerged after several years of inactivity to address new packaging challenges introduced with the commercialization of WBG semiconductor technology.  Since that time, IWIPP has quickly become a premier international workshop in the area of power electronics packaging and integration. The workshop is sponsored by the IEEE's Power Electronics Society (PELS), Components, Electronic Packaging Society (EPS), and Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society (DEIS), as well as the Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA) and the European Consortium on Power Electronics (ECPE).

IWIPP 2019 will be held April 24-26, 2019, in Toulouse, France. The contents of IWIPP 2019 will include a set of plenary addresses from leading experts in the field, a broad range of technical sessions, as well as a complement of technical tutorial sessions, all of which are included in the registration fee.  Topics that will be addressed as part of the technical program for IWIPP 2019 include magnetic and dielectric materials; power semiconductor devices and modules; integration of sensors; design of gate/base drivers, reliability and manufacturability considerations; electro-magnetic interference mitigation; and many more.

Please make plans to attend IWIPP 2019 to enhance your understanding of the latest developments in the area of high-performance power packaging and the critical role of packaging in determining the performance and reliability of power electronics applications.  Additional information regarding the workshop can be found at the following website: https://iwipp.org/

Sponsored by:
IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS)
IEEE Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology Society (CPMT)
IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society (DEIS)
Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA)
European Center for Power Electronics (ECPE) 

The Silent Power of Supercapacitors (Part I)
Posted: 2018-12-11

From harvesting energy to power plants, the use of power electronics is everywhere and there are few applications that do not require power. The power electronics industry has been very dynamic with many new technologies making the impossible now possible. In the unceasing quest to increase performance levels, reliability and sustainability, new components and technologies such as Wide Bandgap Semiconductors and Digital power management are receiving a lot of attention and coverage. However, hiding in the shadows is a component that is very important and alredy intrinsically involved in many evolving applications - The Supercapacitor.

Supercapacitors are being widely applied - although perhaps because they are seen as passive components with a low-tech connotation, they are seldom on centerstage. It is time to bring them back into the spotlight, so let's review the amazing story and technology behind the silent power of supercapacitors.

From Howard Becker to Elon Musk
In the early fifties when capacitors were made out of impregnated paper and mica, General Electric researched ways to increase their capacity to store and release higher energy levels and to be able to absorb voltage distortions in electronics especially in top secret military applications. Research was conducted by Howard I. Becker and his team who on 14th April 1954 filed a patent for a 'Low voltage electrolytic capacitor' using a porous carbon electrode. On 23rd July 1957 the US2800616A patent was granted, thus opening the road for further innovation. Becker's invention was the beginning of a race between laboratories to convert the invention into a component capable of being mass manufactured with higher performance levels. In 1958, Philips NV patented a process for the production of electrodes for electrolytic capacitors and the electrolytic capacitor was born.

Although the invention of the electrolytic capacitor was an important step forward for the electronics industry, the capacity was still not enough to store higher levels of energy such as is required to stabilize an electric network or to deliver extremely high energy levels as required by certain applications in the defense industry. It took another six years of research after Becker's patent for the Robert A. Rightmire an engineer at Standard Oil Company to be granted on the 29th of November 1966, the US3288641A patent for an 'Electrical energy storage apparatus'. It was described as: "An electrical energy storage device for storing energy in electrostatic condition as double layers of electron-ions and proton-ions at co-acting interfaces…"

The supercapacitor was born!

Interestingly, it then took another 10 years for the invention to become a market reality.

Because of their capacity to store and release high amounts of energy in a very short time period, Electrical Vehicle (EV) research on high performance supercapacitors intensified and the number of inventions and patents sky-rocketed. The foremost application in EVs was to store the energy generated when decelerating and braking in order to re-use that energy to power the engine when accelerating. The potential of the supercapacitor received heightened attention in March 2011 at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco where regarding the future of electric vehicles Elon Musk said, "If I were to make a prediction, I'd think there's a good chance that it is not batteries, but super-capacitors that will power the future of EV." Just to remind ourselves, Musk originally came to California to study high-energy-density capacitor physics at Stanford. His speech started a lot of speculation about the potential of supercapacitors, with the perception that they would be the solution to mass energy storage, eventually replacing batteries. The reality is a bit different though, from the timing of Becker and Rightmire's original patents up to the present day, supercapacitor technology has progressed in a fair degree of 'behind the scenes' silence.

How does it work?
As we all remember from school, a capacitor consists of two metal plates or conductors separated by an insulator such as air or a film made of plastic or ceramic. During charging, electrons accumulate on one conductor and depart from the other. Using normal manufacturing practices a conventional capacitor's energy storage is limited by the laws of physics and that is where Robert A. Rightmire's invention opened new avenues for high energy storage.

A supercapacitor cell basically consists of two electrodes, a separator, and an electrolyte. The electrodes are made up of a metallic collector that is the high conducting part, and of an active material (metal oxides, carbon and graphite are the most commonly used) that is the high surface area part. The two electrodes are separated by a membrane that allows mobility of the charged ions, but forbids electrical conductance. The system is impregnated with an electrolyte (Figure 01). The geometrical size of the two carbon sheets and of the separators are designed in such a way that they have a very high surface area. Due to its structure, the highly porous carbon can store more energy than any other electrolytic capacitor.
When a voltage is applied to the positive plate, it attracts negative ions from the electrolyte, and when a voltage is applied to the negative plate, it attracts positive ions from the electrolyte. As a result, ion layers form on both sides of the plate in what is called a 'double layer' formation, resulting in the ions being stored near the surface of the carbon. This mechanism gives supercapacitors the ability to store and restore high energy within a very short time period.

The surface of the active part is the key to the supercapacitor's capacity and from what we know, increasing the surface area increases the capacity. What is particularly interesting and exciting in the advance of supercapacitor technology are the possibilities offered by the introduction of nanotechnologies. One example is to replace the conventional active carbon layer with a thin layer of billions of nanotubes. Each nanotube is like a uniform hollow cylinder 5nm diameter and 100um long, vertically grown over the conducting electrodes, and by using billions of them it is possible to reach extremely high density levels of capacity (Figure 02).

Will supercapacitors supersede batteries and What's coming next?
Following Elon Musk's speech at Cleantech Forum 2011, there has been a lot of interest in supercapacitors and the potential offered by nanotechnologies is keeping hopes high that at some point in the future, supercapacitors might reach a point where they equal the performance of batteries.

Will that happen?
Find more in Part 2 of this article in the next edition of the PSMA newsletter.

Provided by Patrick Le Fèvre
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Powerbox

Editor's note: This is the first in a 2-part series, watch for the second article in the First Quarter 2019 Issue of the PSMA Update.

Isolation Standards Say Little About Isolator Performance
Posted: 2018-12-6





In our roles as chair and co-chair of the PSMA Safety and Compliance Committee, we have hosted a number of Industry Sessions at the Applied Power Electronics Conferences (APEC). These technical sessions focused on isolation and gate drivers for motor drives, power supplies, and industrial applications. In the course of planning these sessions, one of the things we've learned is that there is confusion concerning which standards apply to the various types of optocouplers, optodrivers and isolators used in gate drive and power supply circuits. How do these electronic devices meet safety rules and what are some of the differences between the requirements imposed by the different safety and regulatory agencies?

Besides confusion over which standards apply to isolator devices, there is a general misconception that isolation standards set requirements for isolator performance beyond the input-to-output voltage isolation. For example, isolation standards won't tell the designer anything about transient immunity or propagation delay. This is important because such performance parameters can vary greatly from one isolation device or technology to another.

This leads to another point of confusion regarding isolation standards: even though they are called out on isolator data sheets, these are often not the main standards for most applications, but rather secondary standards. In other words, the isolation standards are called for by application or product requirements such as those for medical equipment, for example. In this article, we review the different isolator device types, identify some of the major isolation standards, and then discuss the requirements imposed on the different isolator device types.

A Quick Survey of Isolator Types

Table 1. Digi-Key classifications of isolators and the number of models offered for each. (www.digikey.com/products/isolators/en)

The topic is wide and has many classifications and include a variety of isolator types. To get a sense of the range of devices on the market and the number of different models, we conducted a search of the Digi-Key catalog. The results are shown in Table 1. Although similar searches could have been done on other distributors' catalogs, the Digi-Key search results are fairly comprehensive and provide a good starting point to address the differences among the rules for the various isolation devices.

A Quick Survey of Isolation Standards

Next, we did a web search for safety agency compliance standards for isolators. This led us to Application Note 43 from Vishay, which is titled, "Design Guidelines for Optocoupler Safety Agency Compliance". [4] This was just one of many isolator compliance related search results.

The following standards emerged from the search: UL 1577, IEC 61010-1, VDC V 0884-10 (magnetic and capacitive coupler for safe isolation), VDE V 0884-11 (magnetic and capacitive coupler for basic and reinforced isolation) and IEC-60664. IEC-664 (which refers to other standards ending in 664 and which may be harmonized with IEC-60664) defines Installation Categories as indicated in the diagram (see the figure and Table 2), which come from the Vishay application note.

Figure.  Installation categories. (Courtesy of Vishay)


Table 2.  Voltage ratings required for the various categories in IEC-664. (Courtesy of Vishay)

Most appliances and computer equipment fall within Category II while some appliances like cooking ranges are in Category III. A smart meter for utility reading applications belongs in Category IV due to its direct connection to the utility mains. In some applications both an IEC-664 insulation category along with a UL 1577 rating is needed. This all depends on the safety agency defining the test and the end application.

Optocoupler Triac Drivers

One of the couplers used in many home applications and industrial applications is the SCR and Triac driver. Examples include the MOC302x (phase-angle control) and MOC306x (zero-crossing control) families.

In this case, UL 1577 applies and there are 1-min. test dc voltages and test ac voltages. These are usually 50 Hz and 60 Hz driving solenoids, heaters, lamps, and some motors. These types of devices have between 2000 Vac and over 6000 Vac between the input and output. The regulating standard has been UL 1577 and the VDE DIN EN60747 standard used in Europe.

Design engineers need to look at the data sheet for the various standards of the coupler and the end product standard, which may include EN/IEC 60950 and EN/IEC 60065. White good appliances such as clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, and other appliances often employ these SCR and Triac devices, which are controlled by microprocessors and microcontrollers and used to turn-on drive water solenoids or motors.  

Isolators for Switching Power Supplies

Another category of high-volume applications consists of the power supply feedback systems like those employing the 4N35 optocoupler series (6-pin DIP and SMP packages) and the LTV 8x7 photocoupler series (4-pin DIP and SMP packages) which are used with a reference like the TL431 (2.5 V) or the TLV431 (1.25 V). There are also some other references that have a 0.9-Vdc reference voltage. These parts follow the UL 1577 standard—the same standard listed above. The input-to-output voltage rating is between 3750 Vac and 5000 Vac. These types of parts have been around since 1980.
Power Integrations (PI) has a series of flyback power supply parts that do not have an external isolator. These are their secondary-side FluxLink parts like the InnoSwitch-EP (INN2603K). They meet the UL 1577 and the TUV (EN60950) standards and are tested to meet 3500 Vac due to the 100% testing at 4.8 KV ac for 1 second. FluxLink is a high-frequency magnetic feedback system, which was described in the APEC 2018 Industry Session IS04 by M. Hornkamp of PI.[5] This method eliminates the optocoupler. PI also has a series of parts that use the traditional optocoupler and a reference (TinySwitch series).

Isolated Gate Driver for Motors and Half-Bridge Drivers

Isolated gate driver ICs for IGBTs, and GaN and SiC transistors used in motor control applications have three different isolation technologies: optical, capacitive, and magnetic. The newer parts use capacitive and inductive coupling across a barrier. They have high dv/dt and common-mode transient immunity, and low propagation delay. All of these isolation devices meet the standard UL 1577, and VDE and IEC ratings defined in the data sheets. Besides the safety standards many of these parts also meet automotive specifications.

In addition, many of these components have built-in charge pumps to develop the gate-drive current. That's because the controller is often at a lower voltage than the main power bus, and possibly isolated from the main power bus. With the use of PWM techniques, narrow pulse widths are needed along with very high dv/dt. The high dv/dt can cause the driver to misfire and cause high dissipation in the power switch. This issue was talked about by various presenters in the sessions cited in references 1, 2 and 3.

Digital Isolators

Isolators for data signals need both isolation and the ability transmit data at megahertz speeds. These isolators are required by a number of bus standards including Controller Area Network (CAN), SPI, USB, RS485, and I2C bus. Many of these buses have a number of channels and are bidirectional. They use capacitive coupling, magnetic coupling, and, even something known as Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR) coupling. No optical coupling was listed for the high-frequency data rates. Each of these applications require compliance with UL and IEC isolation specifications with UL 1577 being the one most often listed.


All the isolator classifications listed have different performance specifications. Parameters such as signal speed, propagation delay, noise immunity, aging factors, etc. will vary among the different isolation technologies. The one thing they all have in common is that they provide an input-to-output voltage rating similar to UL 1577. The IEC and VDE specifications have similar ratings but, again, these standards are all about specifying the strength of the input-to-output isolation barrier, and not other aspects of isolator performance. The safety ratings do not mean the device will perform per the isolator's data sheet. The design engineer and the various component engineering staff must determine what is required in terms of electrical performance beyond isolation voltage. You cannot use an opto-Triac device where a digital isolator is needed.

Since isolation standards are secondary standards referenced by other application or equipment standards, ultimately designers must consult those main standards to determine whether any aspects of those standards will affect their choice of an isolator device. Since the spectrum of application or equipment standards is vast, and access to individual standards requires their purchase, a discussion of what these other standards require of the isolation devices is beyond the scope of this article.


  1. "Regulatory and Compliance Considerations for Power Electronics," Session IS06 APEC 2017, March 29, 2017.
  2. "Comparisons and Tradeoffs of Integrated Gate Driver Isolation Technologies," Session IS04 APEC 2018, March 6, 2018.
  3. "Isolation Topics in Power Supplies," Session IS09 APEC 2018, March 7, 2018.
  4. "Design Guidelines for Optocoupler Safety Agency Compliance," Vishay Application Note 43
  5. "Isolation Strategies for High Power" by Michael Hornkamp in Session IS04, "Comparisons and Tradeoffs of Integrated Gate Driver Isolation Technologies," APEC 2018, March 6, 2018.





Kevin Parmenter, 
Director of Applications Engineering
Taiwan Semiconductor America

  Jim Spangler, President, Spangler Prototype Inc. (SPI)


Editor's Note: This article was first published in the September 2018 issue of  How2Power Today (www.how2power.com/newsletters).

About Our Members
Posted: 2018-12-2

Flex Power Modules (formerly Ericsson Power Modules) is a subsidiary of Flex that predominantly designs and manufactures board-mounted DC/DC conversion products. With products primarily designed for use in Telecom & Radio and Datacom (including supercomputers), Flex Power Modules also offers board-mounted system solutions for other demanding applications such as the Industrial & Transportation, Energy and Military sectors.

Flex Power Modules is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and has design centers in Kalmar, Sweden, and Shanghai, China. Manufacturing is also carried out in our factory in Shanghai. The emphasis is on quality and highly automated production, making the company one of the largest volume manufacturers in the power-modules industry, having delivered more than 100 million modules to the market worldwide.

Flex Power Modules is one of the top technology leaders in the world and is positioned number one for digital power solutions as well as number two for board-mounted products for Information and Communication Technology (ICT). 

Flex Power Modules has many industry-first innovations to its credit, developed over 40 years of operation supplying solutions for distributed power architectures, intermediate bus architectures and, most recently, Direct Conversion technology.

Our products can be categorized as board-mounted DC/DC converters and power management devices based on both analog and digital control technology.

Our analog portfolio comprises isolated and non-isolated DC/DC converters offering power ranges from 1.65W to 860W with fractional bricks and industrial form factors. Key features of these analog products are high reliability and high efficiency, achieved by continuous development of the products implementing the newest components. Utilization of our own IP design process makes these products unique and positions them as reliable, robust and price-attractive solutions for the power markets.

Flex Power Modules' DC/DC converters are available in multiple industry-standard footprints including the Distributed-power Open Standards Alliance (DOSA) and the Point of Load Alliance (POLA) for analog solutions. Converters have a current range from 2.25A up to 60A.

Flex Power Modules released the first digital isolated DC/DC converter 10 years ago – being the first one ever with a digitally controlled IBC converter on the market. Now, the fourth generation of digital IBC DC/DC converter had been released. The key features of this product group are high performance with up to 1.3kW, high efficiency up to 97% and fast load-transient response.

All our digital power modules can be used with our own Flex Power Designer (FPD) software. FPD can be used offline to sketch, simulate and optimize complex multi-rail power designs for many Flex Power Modules products. FPD is used online for monitoring, testing and configuring power design via the PMBus interface. 

Most of our digital point of load (PoL) solutions follow AMP standard and have PMBus interfaces. Flex Power Modules PoL converters can deliver up to 120A from a single module, but we also offer dual-output modules that can either be configured for two independent channels per rail or a single output with double current capacity.

Direct Conversion products offer modular board-mounted solutions for power conversion from a nominal 48/54V input direct to the silicon voltage. They are intended to power high-current rails required by the latest central processing units (CPUs), graphic processing units (GPUs), field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and memories. They support communication protocols such as PMBus, AVS, Intel's VR13 and IBM's Power9 (P9).

Power interface modules (PIMs) simplify the design in blade servers based on AdvancedTCA standards and other applications. Offering features such as EMI filtering, hot-swap, dual-feed OR-ing, hold-up function, reverse polarity protection and auxiliary management power, PIM devices can be used for any industrial or ICT application employing a distributed power architecture.

Flex Power Designer software goes beyond converter configuration and provides an overview of the whole power system, enabling our customers to define relationships across rails – phase spreading, sequencing and fault spreading.

The built-in simulation enables power-stage analysis to optimize tuning and visualize design behavior against the existing power requirements, including load-transient response, output impedance and power dissipation.

Power Designer features include:

  • System configuration and efficiency estimation of the entire power system
  • Configuration and simulation of the control loop, transient response and power dissipation
  • System functions for sequencing, tracking, paralleling and synchronization/phase spreading configuration
  • Easy configuration and monitoring of your digital power modules

Flex Power Modules offers several different evaluation boards and other useful test tools (e.g. electronic load) available for customer evaluation of our power modules.

Every product design is the result of extensive research and development in power technology, with a broad application and system knowledge and a focus on design for environment and design for manufacturing.

The result is:

  • High efficiency over a wide load range and high power density
  • Efficient thermal management leading to low total cost of ownership over product lifetime
  • Excellent dynamic load performance
  • High mean time between failures (MTBF) and long lifetime

Utilizing digitally controlled power converters allows a significant reduction in design and debugging time. In case of changes in requirements, there is no soldering iron required, as most changes can be done via PMBus – the digital interface with assistance from our FPD software. The whole development process is simplified due to the application of simulation tools. In addition, debugging of prototypes is easier due to the availability of monitoring and failure event information.

Digitally controlled modules are much more flexible and offer a wider functionality range. 

For our customers, production and logistics costs are reduced by using products for multiple applications (the same product can be easily re-configured).  
Digital power modules require fewer components, which increases the reliability of the whole product.

For more information about Flex Power Modules' products and solutions, you are welcome to contact us by email – pm.info@flex.com – or visit our homepage: www.flex.com/powermodules

Provided by Tuuli Waern, Technical Marketing Manager, Flex Power Modules



Venable Instruments provides the most versatile, full featured Frequency Response Analyzers to customers in industries where precise testing and measurement tools for power electronics design are fundamental.   Venable Instruments' roots go back to 1979, when H. Dean Venable developed a straightforward method for analyzing control loops, with a primary focus on power supply compensation.  Building on a concept developed by R. D. Middlebrook, Dean Venable created a system by which power supply designers could measure and characterize and power supply modulator performance, create appropriate compensation, and thusly achieve desired closed loop performance.  This gave birth to the modern Frequency Response Analyzer and Stability Analysis Software.  Over the last thirty-five plus years, Venable Instruments has refined and improved the FRA hardware and software, giving power electronics engineers unprecedented ability to develop products with predictable results.

Venable offers the most extensive line up of feature rich Frequency Response Analyzers, with instruments that have two, three or four input channels and bandwidths of 10uHz to 5, 20 and 40MHz.  All of Venable's laboratory grade FRAs have fully isolated, floating inputs and oscillator outputs, rated to 600V peak.  This generally obviates the need for injection or isolation transformers and voltage reduction probes.  Additionally, Venable FRAs receive NIST calibration at no charge when shipped.  For customers that need greater calibration traceability, Venable is the only company that can provide calibrations that meet the standards of Level II Z540.1 calibration certification.

The Venable Model 6300 Series is our popular two channel hardware/software system supplying the same functionality as all Venable FRAs, with the 6300 leading the industry with more integrated testing and measurement capabilities than any other instrument in its class.

The Model 350c Series incorporates a third channel, allowing the user to measure more transfer functions simultaneously, or  source and load impedance with one sweep. The 350c is the only frequency response analyzer in the industry that can measure absolute phase, using an internal reference channel.

The Venable Model 7400 Series is the top of the line in performance, providing four input channels for increased testing, measurement and analysis functionality.  Originally designed for measuring 3-phase impedance and source and load simultaneously, the Model 7400 is a robust solution for organizations requiring high availability for high volume and/or simultaneous testing.
The Model 8800 Series is the first in our family of digital frequency response analyzers (DFRA) and our latest technology patent as the only FRA commercially available that can measure the plant of a digitally-controlled feedback loop directly and accurately.
All of our lab instruments are a hardware and software systems, which includes Stability Analysis Software, based upon our renowned K-Factor analysis method originally developed by Venable.  This full-featured software allows users to easily transfer data between plots, export data to and from other applications such as Excel® and MATHLAB, change sweep parameters during sweep, includes a simple SPICE-like program for modeling the AC frequency response of circuits, and is the only FRA software that has transfer function math capability.

Additionally, FRAs are used for making system input and output impedance measurements as well as characterizing passive components.  Venable's Input/Output Impedance Measurement Set enables the engineer to perform input impedance, output impedance and conducted audio susceptibility measurements on systems while the systems are under operational power.  Similarly, the RLC Measurement Kit provides an accurate, easy-to-use instrument for measuring values of resistors, inductors, capacitors, and parasitic elements.

Venable offers the widest range of scalable Frequency Response Analyzers to meet your company's current requirements, while providing a cost-effective growth path for increased testing functionality.  Venable is a proven leader in aerospace, automotive, energy, defense, computer technology, academia, government research applications and virtually any industry requiring the highest standards in power supply and stability testing for repeatable and accurate results.  For more information, please visit our website, www.venablecorp.com or call 512-949-3141.

Provided by Ford Mays, Sr. Applications Engineer, Venable Instruments


Meet Your Directors
Posted: 2018-12-2

Four members of the Board of Directors are elected at the PSMA Annual Meeting held every year during the APEC conference.Each Director serves a three-year term and is eligible to be reelected for one additional term. If you would like to nominate an individual from a PSMA member company for the next election, please contact the Association Office.

In this issue we would like to introduce you to Michael Hayes who was elected to his second term in March 2018 and Brian Narveson who is currently serving his second term.

Michael Hayes Mike has 30 years of experience working in Power Electronics industry & research and is an active member of the PSMA packaging, energy management and energy harvesting committees (which he co-chairs). He is also a member of the PSMA executive committee having served as vice president from 2016-18 and new serves as president. Mike currently works at Tyndall as an industry orientated program manager covering collaborative projects on power electronics & energy efficiency. For Tyndall he has secured over $10M in funding (from industry, government & the EU) leading to the creation of over 30 jobs and helping industry partners secure $2.5M in VC/research funding. Tyndall is one of Europe's leading research centers and a world leader in PSiP & PwrSoC domains and an epicenter for micro-power energy harvesting research in Europe.

Mike has an established track record promoting synergetic opportunities between power electronics, energy harvesting and ICT domains and has written a number of publications, participated in EU studies, presenting & chairing conferences and workshops related to this. His team delivered the world's 1st indoor energy harvesting power management solution operating indefinitely in indoor lighting conditions and for 72 hours in darkness. He is currently work package leader on 3 EU energy efficiency projects and co-ordinator of a 'Powering the Internet of Things' infrastructure project ('EnABLES') worth $6M, giving industry access (expertise, equipment, models, feasibility studies) to 11 leading research centers and universities in Europe (Tyndall, Fraunhofer, IMEC, CEA et al.)

Mike gained 20 years of power electronics industry experience at Artesyn Technologies in various design & senior management roles developing custom power supplies for blue chip telecom companies. He has previously managed a number of technology collaborations with Power Electronics Ireland and Tyndall. Mike also represented Artesyn on the Irish Power Electronics Industry Group (PEIG) industry steering committee.  During this time he published his M.Eng.Sc. thesis on 'Planar Magnetics for Switched Mode Power Supply (SMPS) Applications'.

Key achievements to date related to PSMA

  • Founder & co-chair of the Energy Harvesting Committee that was resurrected in 2015
  • Co-chair of PSMA energy harvesting industry session at APEC2017 & 2018
  • Co-founder with Brian Zahnstecher (PowerRox) & general chair of EnerHarv, an inaugural PSMA led energy harvesting international workshop (May 2018)
  • Contributor to 2017 PSMA Technology Roadmap (Energy harvesting applications)
  • Presentation on packaging considerations for energy harvesting IoT devices – APEC 2017
  • Managed PSMA 3D phase 1 special project 2014 (technical report, presentation at ECPE)
  • Hosted PSMA webinar on energy harvesting/power electronics synergies in 2016
  • Chaired the Packaging and Manufacturing session of international workshop PwrSoC2014
  • Represented PSMA on the steering committee of IWIPP2017 workshop

Mike continues to identify, promote and drive industry/academic synergies internationally particularly between packaging, MEMS manufacturing, ICT, energy harvesting & power management. This was demonstrated at EnerHarv201 where over 80 industry and academics participants from four continents gathered together forming an ecosystem driven to collaborate together to devise solutions to power the internet of things. This is expected to be a trillion sensor economy by 2025 and a disruptive opportunity for the power electronics community. Recently he received a leadership award from University College Cork for his various 'powering IoT' initiatives over the past decade.

Outside of work Mike is a keen golfer, plays tennis, runs, follows the 'highs and lows' of the Cork hurling team and enjoys travel and leisure time with his family.

Provided by Mike Hayes, Senior Program manager, Tyndall National Institute

Brian C. Narveson is currently the President of Narveson's Innovative Consulting, which focuses on coaching Innovation in Engineering and Technical Marketing.  Brian has been focused on the power industry for over 25 years.  He joined Power Trends in 1992 shortly after it was founded as the Vice President of Engineering. His team developed the products which helped grow the company from less than $1M in sales in 1992 to over $60M in 1999 when it was purchased by Texas Instruments. After the acquisition he became the Marketing and Applications Manager for TI's Power Module business.  From this role he advanced to Worldwide Power Marketing Development Manager at TI (2002-2007).  From 2007 until he retired from TI in 2011 he was the Midwest Analog Applications Manager for Texas Instruments.

Brian has served on the board of directors for 5+ years.  He has been co-chairman of the PSMA Packaging Committee for 12 years, which sponsored and facilitated the PSMA "PSiP2PwrSoC" Technical Report and Industry Sessions. They have also published three Technical Reports on 3D Packaging and have organized two International Symposiums on "3D- Power Electronics Integration and Manufacturing (3DPEIM)". Brian has chaired many APEC Industry Sessions.  In addition, Brian has served on the PSMA Technology Roadmap committee.  He also serves on the Transportation Committee and is a member of the PwrSoc and IWIPP workshop steering committees.  He has been involved with PSMA since 2001 when he became the company representative for TI.

Brian has attended every APEC since 1994 except one.  He was a Plenary Speaker in 2014 and has presented 3 technical sessions and co-authored or presented 7 industry sessions. This year he and Ernie Parker are co-chairing the industry session "Making Power Sources Small with 3D Power Packaging Solutions" where they have recruited 7 speakers from Industry and Academia.
Brian has published over 35 power electronics articles and conducted 5 Webinars in the US, Asia and Europe.

Provided by Brian Narveson, President, Narveson’s Innovative Consulting


PSMA Announces New Membership Classifications and Dues Structure
Posted: 2018-11-27

The PSMA Board of Directors has recognized the growing role being played by the rapid technological advances in power semiconductors, power management ICs, passive components to meet demanding customer needs for higher efficiency, higher reliability power conversion products and systems.

Much of the excellent work carried out through our PSMA Technical Committees is focused on these enabling technologies. Many of the outstanding APEC Industry Sessions organized by the PSMA Technical Committees address the advances in these critical components and manufacturing technologies. In addition, the PSMA Technical Committees sponsor several Technical Workshops and Webinars that address the advances on these topics, including the full-day Capacitor and Magnetics Workshops held the Saturday prior to the start of APEC, PwrSoC 2018 held in October in Taiwan, and the 3D Power Electronics Integrations and Manufacturing Workshop.

In recognition of the significant value and contributions provided by the companies engaged in the manufacture of these enabling technologies, the PSMA Board of Directors has determined that all such companies should be eligible for full voting membership in our Association. To this end, the PSMA Bylaws have been amended to simplify the membership structure into two classifications: Regular and Affiliate.  All member companies formerly classified as Associate Members will now be classified as Regular Members. 

In addition, the annual dues for Regular Membership will no longer be based on self-reported industry-related revenues. Instead, beginning in 2019, Regular Membership dues will be the same for all eligible companies and set at $950 per year. The Annual Dues structure has not changed in more than 30 years. For some member companies, this will result in a significant reduction in the annual cost of membership. For a small number of current Regular members and others formerly designated as Associate members, annual membership will increase modestly.

This change in the PSMA membership structure recognizes that PSMA Member Companies continue to be at the leading edge of power technology and “the voice of the Power Sources Industry”.

iNEMI Opens New Headquarters in North Carolina
Posted: 2018-11-16

The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI), a worldwide industry-led consortium, today announced it has relocated its headquarters office from Herndon, Virginia, to Morrisville, North Carolina. 

iNEMI started exploring options for a new headquarters location earlier this year because the Herndon office building where iNEMI had been headquartered since 1996 was put up for sale with all leases terminating at the end of 2018. After an extensive review, the search committee decided that the Greater Raleigh/Research Triangle Park area would be the most advantageous location for iNEMI.

“We took this opportunity to explore a number of locations, assessing several factors, such as proximity to members and academic research centers, access to transportation, leasing costs and more,” said Marc Benowitz, iNEMI CEO.  “In the end, the Greater Raleigh/Research Triangle Park area topped the list in terms of meeting our needs. We are now officially open in our new headquarters location and are looking forward to becoming a part of the research community in this dynamic and growing area.”

The iNEMI office is located at

3000 RDU Center Drive, Suite 220
Morrisville, NC 27560 USA
+1 984.333.0820

This office serves as the headquarters for the corporate membership-based iNEMI, which is an R&D consortium comprised of leading electronics manufacturing companies and related organizations.  The initial staff located in the North Carolina office are Edward (Ed) Jollie, Director of Business Administration and Operations, and Kristin Christensen, Office Administrator.

For additional information about iNEMI, visit www.inemi.org.

PSMA Energy Management Technical Committee Leadership Opportunity
Posted: 2018-11-6

The PSMA Board of Directors is seeking one or more volunteers interested in providing leadership for the Energy Management Technical Committee. The membership in all the PSMA Technical Committees is comprised of individual volunteers from both Member and non-Member Companies who have a technical, business or personal interest and are involved in the focus of the specific Technical Committee.

An important role of the Technical Committee leadership is to coordinate the mission and focus of the committee to address the current issues and changing trends in the technologies. The Technical Committees normally meet monthly via teleconference for one hour to discuss special Projects that PSMA might fund that would benefit the membership and industry, to consider and plan Industry Sessions for upcoming APEC meetings, and to support of the PSMA Power Technology Roadmap with relevant Webinars and technical content. The leadership position is the chair for each meeting and is responsible for generating the monthly meeting agenda and to facilitate the meeting to meet the needs of the participants.

The benefits of Technical Committee leadership are many including:

  • Being acknowledged as an important participant and factor in the technical community
  • Opportunity to interact with National, State and Independent Agencies involved with the specific technologies
  • Anticipate and influence changes especially in regulations
  • Identify your company as an important participant and contributor in the industry segment
  • An expanded ability to network with others in the industry

Additional information on the Energy Management Technical Committee and a Leadership Job Description is available here.

Please contact the Association Office for more information on the specific responsibilities for the Chair and/or Co-chair of the Energy Management Technical Committee.

ON Semiconductor Announces Official Supplier Relationship with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and Mercedes EQ Formula E Team to Create Cutting-Edge Power Solutions for Vehicle Electrification
Posted: 2018-11-6

ON Semiconductor, driving energy efficient innovations, announces an Official Supplier relationship with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and Mercedes EQ Formula E team that will extend their automotive power solutions leadership onto the highly competitive world stages of Formula One and Formula E. Building on the company's technology, already utilized in the energy recovery pack that controls ignition and injection drivers of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport race car, which has won four consecutive Formula One World Constructors' championships and five consecutive Drivers' titles, ON Semiconductor will collaborate with the Mercedes EQ Formula E Team in developing next-generation electric powertrain innovations for cutting-edge performance and efficiency.

"ON Semiconductor is a market leader in innovative power management solutions for vehicle electrification. The powertrain systems within both a Formula 1 and Formula E vehicle not only possess an increased number of power semiconductors, these semiconductors must meet extremely demanding performance and efficiency requirements, while withstanding the harshest of automotive environments," said David Somo, senior vice president corporate strategy, marketing and solutions engineering at ON Semiconductor. "This partnership showcases our full range of power semiconductors and modules in supporting the continuing success of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport as part of a demanding and dynamic sport."

"Formula E cars see massive power transfers during their running, so it's not a simple electrical problem," said Dave Priscak, vice president, global solutions engineering at ON Semiconductor. "Our comprehensive expertise that spans both mechanical and electrical engineering offers full solutions to the innovation of next-generation electric vehicles. We look forward to continuing our work with Mercedes to further capitalize on this expertise in the development of technological advancements in power devices and electric vehicle technology."

Race cars need technology that can withstand high levels of shock, vibration and extreme temperatures. The more efficient the semiconductor device, the less power is lost to wasted heat, resulting in better mileage or miles per watt of energy. At the same time, engineers also aim to make their cars' components smaller to save weight and space. ON Semiconductor power products and solutions include IGBTs, high voltage gate drivers, super junction rectifiers, high voltage MOSFETs and high voltage DC-DC, as well as wide band gap (WBG) developments in Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) that can be used in next-generation electric vehicles. These technologies provide longer driving range between charges, faster battery charging times and better thermal management.

For more information, visit www.onsemi.com.


Christine Yan Joins the ON Semiconductor Board of Directors
Posted: 2018-10-1

ON Semiconductor Corporation, driving energy efficiency innovations, today announced that Christine Yan has joined its Board of Directors. Ms. Yan was elected to this position by ON Semiconductor’s Board of Directors.

"We are pleased to welcome Christine as a new independent director to ON Semiconductor’s board and look forward to her contributions,” said Alan Campbell, chair of the board at ON Semiconductor. “Her unique insights and perspectives, coupled with prior board experience, are a great complement to the skills and qualifications of our existing directors.”

“Christine joins ON Semiconductor’s board at an exciting time for the company as we continue to drive our business and customer relationships in China and the greater Asia Pacific region,” said Keith Jackson, president, chief executive officer and director at ON Semiconductor. “Her engineering background and deep knowledge in doing business in Asia, corporate strategy, and product development will be invaluable to our customers and shareholders. We look forward to working with her on the board as we continue to fulfill our vision to be the trusted supplier of choice for energy efficient innovations in the semiconductor industry.”

Ms. Yan has served as Vice President of Integration at Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE: SWK) since January 2018, leading the company’s successful acquisition of Nelson Fastener Systems. Prior to this role, Ms. Yan has recently served as President – Asia for Stanley Black & Decker based in Shanghai, China and President – Stanley Storage and Workspace Systems. Ms. Yan started her career at Black & Decker as an engineering intern in 1989 and progressed to be the first female business unit president for the company in 2006 when she became President of Global Automotive for the Engineered Fastening Business. Ms. Yan also serves as a director of Modine Manufacturing Company (NYSE: MOD).

Ms. Yan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Shandong University in Shandong, China, a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

For more information, visit www.onsemi.com.

EnABLES Launches its Transnational Access Programme for Powering the IoT
Posted: 2018-9-6

The EU H2020 EnABLES research infrastructure programme, co-ordinated by Tyndall, has just launched its Transnational Access (TA) programme, which offers free-of-charge access to equipment, tools and expertise related to 'powering the internet of things (IoT)'. The vision of EnABLES is to eliminate the need for battery replacement by developing energy harvesting solutions or by finding ways to significantly reduce the power consumption of devices. The TA programme gives academic and industry developers and integrators of IoT devices unique access to advanced research infrastructure based on the technology pillars of energy harvesting, energy storage, micro-power management and system integration.

The TA providers include Tyndall, CEA (Leti & Liten), Fraunhofer IMS, Fraunhofer IIS and imec the Netherlands. In addition, Virtual Access to databases of vibrational energy sources from real life applications is being offered by the University of Perugia and the University of Southampton. EnABLES also funds Joint Research Activities (JRAs) between the above mentioned partners along with Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Politecnico Di Torino and University of Bologna. It is envisaged that the Joint Research Activities  will lead to future Transnational Access programme offerings.

The access activities can be undertaken in many ways; ranging from characterizing material or devices to carrying out physical or simulated feasibility studies to see if 'battery life' in IoT devices can be prolonged. The potential impact of EnABLES is vast – it is forecast that the world will have 1 trillion IoT devices by 2025 most of which will require an embedded self-contained power source.

The access process is very simple, examples of offerings can be viewed on the EnABLES website and an online enquiry form is available at www.enables-project.eu. All outputs from the EnABLES TA and VA activities will be openly available as part of the aim of EnABLES to build a collaborative ecosystem that creates miniaturized and autonomous sensors. The EnABLES program already brings together a consortium of 130 'powering IoT' researchers giving them access to over €2Bn worth of research infrastructure.

We welcome you to go onto the EnABLES website and subscribe for newsletters, updates and info on other relevant events and activities (http://www.enables-project.eu/contact/signup/).

Provided by Mike Hayes, EnABLES Coordinator

Looking Back at PCIM2018 and Forward to PCIM2019
Posted: 2018-9-5

Over the course of the PCIM Europe 2018, 506 exhibitors from 27 countries presented components and other products from every area of application in power electronics.

A total of 11,602 trade visitors took in the innovations and trends that will be driving their business in the future. At the conference held alongside the exhibition, more than 800 participants learned more about the latest developments and research findings from the realms of science and industry in over 300 talks and poster presentations.

PCIM Europe 2019 will be held from May 5-7 in Nuremberg, Germany. For more information, please go to https://pcim.mesago.com/events/en.html

Paul O'Shea and Greg Evans at the PSMA booth

Lincoln International's Solar Energy Stock Index: Q2 2018
Posted: 2018-9-1

Lincoln International is pleased to present you with the latest Solar Energy Stock Index from our Global Energy, Power & Infrastructure Group. Topics covered in this issue include:

  • Quarterly performance of the Solar Energy Stock Index versus the S&P Index
  • Relative market valuations of each Solar Energy sector
  • Current financial data for each company in the index
(870k pdf)

This data is included with the permission of Lincoln International. For more information, you may contact John McManus (jmcman@optonline.net) or the Association Office.


Lincoln International's Solar Energy DealReader: Q2 2018
Posted: 2018-9-1

Lincoln International is pleased to present you with the latest Solar Energy DealReader from our Renewable Energy Team. Topics covered in this issue include:

  • Q2 2018 Deal Volume Comparison
  • Recent Solar Energy Transaction Announcements
  • Margin Performance in the Solar Energy Industry
(685k pdf)

This data is included with the permission of Lincoln International. For more information, you may contact John McManus (jmcman@optonline.net) or the Association Office.


Lincoln International's EMS Stock Index: Q2 2018
Posted: 2018-9-1

Lincoln International is pleased to present you with the latest EMS Stock Index from our Global Electronics Sector. This will provide you with:

  • Quarterly performance of the EMS Stock Index versus the S&P Index
  • Relative market valuations of each EMS sector
  • Current financial data for each company in the index
(2.1M pdf)

This data is included with the permission of Lincoln International. For more information, you may contact John McManus (jmcman@optonline.net) or the Association Office.


Lincoln International's EMS DealReader: Q2 2018
Posted: 2018-9-1


Lincoln International is pleased to present you with the latest EMS DealReader from our Global Electronics Industry Group. This will provide you with:

  • Q2 2018 deal volume comparison by total transactions, deal type, geography and size
  • Recent EMS transaction announcements
  • Margin performance in the EMS industry 
(2.2MB pdf)

This data is included with the permission of Lincoln International. For more information, you may contact John McManus (jmcman@optonline.net) or the Association Office.


Powering Safety in Demanding Applications
Posted: 2018-8-30

Industrial power is a fascinating world, especially when designing customized solutions combining multi disciplines, and a segment full of amazing projects requiring from designers large range of competences and tight intimacy with customers and related industry. Powering safety equipment in gas, oil and hazardous substances is a very good example of an area where power designers have to combine power-knowledge, safety and regulation, software, and to have a full understanding of the application area and connected devices. Let's dive into the amazing world of Industrial Power to understand the connections between the electrons, the gas, oil and hazardous substances that make our world better and safer.

Challenges faced by gas, oil and hazardous substance industry

The production, transportation and distribution of gas, oil and hazardous substances require, at every step of their respective processes, high levels of monitoring, guaranteeing safety and environmental protection. It is critical to prevent any leakage, and if happening, to detect and report faults without delay, requiring that sensors, monitoring station, communication and other connected devices are powered with stable "always available power." That might sound obvious but considering the entire chain, from production to distribution; the quality of power delivered from grid and micro-grid is not always optimum, which could compromise safety. That's why a very specific type of power solution including local energy storage, power monitoring and communication towards the host system and site-manager is a must.

We will come back to the power solution in detail, but another challenge facing demanding industries are; the aging of installed equipment which, some are in operation for more than 20 years, powered by linear power sources with low efficiency and backup batteries, not dynamically monitored, having as consequence to request, for safety reason, preventive battery replacement on calendar basis.  At the very least there are cost implications for operators, as well an environmental impacts, if we consider the low efficiency of the power supply and the recycling of batteries that could be in a perfect condition; reducing energy consumption and battery life-time motivated companies to upgrade the installed base of power supplies with higher efficiency power sources, battery monitoring and real-time based communication between the power unit and the supervising center.

Site modernization is an important process: but, in the case of the gas industry, not enough to reach the objectives fixed by the different governments to reduce methane emissions that may result from gas leakage throughout the overall process, as reported by the Clean Air Task Force.

In the U.S.A, the White House published the Climate Action Plan "Strategy to reduce methane emissions" in March 2014. This document covers a large range of areas where methane emissions must be reduced; from agriculture, to oil and natural gas sector, highlighting the need to improve measurement methods (e.g. by developing new measurement technologies, including lower-cost emissions sensing equipment) and for operators to initiate activities to reduce gas leakage throughout the overall process.

The modernization process is very well aligned with the requirement but considering the scale of the overall chain additional measuring stations will be required to detect early leakage triggering action to repair as soon as detected. In that industry, time matters and the sooner a default identified, the lower the environmental impact; and for that reliable power sources are mandatory!

What is the best power solution gas, oil and hazardous substances, leakage-detection manufacturers should consider?

Safety and regulations
Many applications are using uninterruptable power supplies (UPS); though considering the nature of the industry segment, and potentially explosive environments, power designers have to consider a number of technical parameters, including specific legislations and regulations related to countries the final equipment is installed.

Gas detection is very much connected to business segment 'Fire Alarms' and, from the early days, power solutions designed for those types of applications have had to follow safety standards related to that segment.

In Europe, the EN 54 Fire detection and fire alarm systems is a mandatory standard that specifies requirements and laboratory tests for every component of fire detection and fire alarm systems, allowing free movement of construction products between countries of the European Union market. The part 4 (Power supply equipment - EN54-4:2007) specifies requirements, methods of test and performance criteria for power supply equipment of fire detection and fire alarm systems. Included in the standard are functionality tests, electrical and mechanical design requirements, as well environmental tests such as cold, vibration, impact, damp heat, and electromagnetic compatibility.

In the USA, the product must comply with the National Fire Protection Association standard NFPA 72-2010 and to the FM Approvals - standard for fire alarm signaling systems – class 3010 (FM3010). When certified equipment are stamped with a specific certification logo.

In other countries, additional standards may apply, which in close cooperation with equipment manufacturers, power designers have to consider at the early stages of the product development, e.g. in UK, the BRE Global Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) verify and certify products operating in Fire Safety, stamped by the LPCB logo [figure 3].

Power supply – battery and monitoring and communication in focus
Standard power supplies powering Fire Alarms are usually dimensioned for small systems requiring limited current, 1.5A to 5.5A at 24V output. That is enough to power fire detectors, sensors and monitoring equipment but not sufficient for larger systems such as the ones deployed in the gas, oil and hazardous substance industry; especially when upgrading legacy systems.

This is where the custom power solution is considered by equipment manufacturers, requiring more power, higher battery capacity and extra features such as advanced monitoring and communication.

Power Supply - High power EN54-4 power solutions are supporting high capacity lead acid batteries; in this example up to 200Ah. High capacity batteries are requiring special attention on the way the power is balanced between the system bus voltage and battery charging.

The most optimized solution is to build a power system that includes two independent power supplies; the first one (28V/20A) to power the applications (e.g. infrared cameras) and the second (28V/15A) to charge the batteries as its main purpose.

Enclosed in an IP30 case, the power supplies and supervising circuitries require special attention on layout, to optimize free air convection, which is the case in the vast majority of applications. Thermally controlled fans can always be added for high temperature environments but designers have to develop the product based upon free air convection, dimensioning components and thermal management for such conditions. Conduction cooling is the rule, and technology such as passive heat-pipes are often considered.

Battery and Monitoring - As we mentioned earlier in the article, the reliability of EN54-4 power sources, supplying voltage to strategic applications and securing power to vital functions, in case of AC disruption, has no compromise. We used to say "Failure is not an option and battery integrity a must." That's where battery monitoring becomes a science, making the overall power system highly reliable.

Different methods exist to test battery integrity/capacity:

  • Full load test - For this test a constant current is drawn from the battery for an extended period of time (typically 20 hours). Measurements of current and voltage are taken periodically from which the capacity of the battery can be calculated.
  • Reduced load or Maintenance load test - Similar to the full load test except that the period is reduced (usually performed by operating the system on battery for a shorter period of time than for a full load test).
  • Momentary load or Pulse load – The test meter loads the battery with a pulsed or momentary series of loads. The duration and repetition of the load test cycle varies depending on the battery type and size.
  • Battery voltage reading - Typically the voltage of the battery is measured and compared to the optimal value expected; a small variation to this test is to allow a current to be drawn from the battery for a period of time to eliminate the surface charge.

Each method has advantages and disadvantages and the best method is a combination of all.

Considering the application and environment, system power designers have developed complex algorithms (part of companies' secrets), integrating battery specific parameters, in-situ operating conditions and predictive failure simulation, based on calculation and field data.

As the Fire Industry Association presented in "FIA Guidance Testing of lead acid batteries used in Fire Detection & Alarm System Power Supplies," one of the most critical parts in this process is the calibration.

As the battery ages, chemical degradation causes reduction in the battery's maximum chemical capacity, limiting performance and risk of failure. Defining the point when an alarm signal should be generated to request maintenance is very important and that can only be done with detailed battery knowledge.

In a perfect world, a calibration profile should belong to the battery, but unfortunately that is not always the case.  Currently the technical information available is not good enough for demanding applications, requiring power manufacturers to build their own databases, which are then integrated into the algorithms.

Calibration requires a large amount of data to establish the performance profile of the battery. That data are is based upon voltage at the cells under different conditions of load and temperature, the internal resistance (measured value from a large population), the dynamic behavior under load transient and few more part of the magic receipt.

When in operation, the EN54-4 power system permanently monitors the 'State of Charge' (Remaining battery capacity / Full charge capacity), the 'State of Health' (Full charge capacity / battery design capacity) and other parameters defined during the design process. In the case of the product presented as example, the PBUKW6004 tests the internal resistance and other parameters every 3 minutes with 10 cycles. The data is then compared with the calibration table and, if a deviation identified, the fault reported via the communication bus, as well as being communicated via a local LED on the front panel.

Communication – Power supplies used in Fire Detection & Alarm System are usually not embedding communication interface. When a default detected, a LED is lit on the front of the power unit and a relay (e.g. open collector transistor) switched to trigger an alarm.

In the case of gas leakage control, equipment could be deployed in remote areas or limited access during site operation. It is very important for the System Supervisor to know the state of each station in real time, requiring the power supply to communicate information to host/supervisor.

Adding an Internet RS-485 with Modbus protocol to the power unit makes it possible for the System Supervisor to tightly monitor the health of each individual site and the state of the batteries and, from data collected, to initiate technical maintenance when necessary.

Information collected through the communication bus is not limited to the battery, it could also include other useful information such as temperature, bus voltage condition and load condition, adding important information when monitoring safety in such operation.

Way forward and conclusion

Powering demanding applications such as gas leakage monitoring is very interesting and new technologies such as low power consumption sensors will require power designers to explore new territories in future, which is very exciting.

In the semiconductors domain, Gallium Nitride, Silicon Carbide or Gallium Arsenide are opening a full range of new applications and, as listed in the White House report under "Improving Methane Measurement" - developing new measurement technologies, including lower-cost emissions sensing equipment, an invitation to Power Designers to investigate harvesting energy.

To conclude, this article has sought to briefly convey the type of challenges power designers can expect to face, when developing power solutions for demanding applications, reflecting the huge amount of required competence and knowledge it requires. It certainly dispels the clichéd notion that the Industrial Power sector is a boring segment; rather demonstrating just how exciting it is and will become in the future.


Provided by Patrick Le Fèvre 
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Powerbox




ON Semiconductor Collaborates With Optimal Plus for Data Analytic-Driven Visibility into Manufacturing Operations
Posted: 2018-8-28

ON Semiconductor is collaborating with Optimal Plus to gather, analyze and build actionable insights out of the company's manufacturing data. As a leading supplier to the automotive industry, ON Semiconductor is pioneering innovative technologies that enable all aspects of automated driving and vehicle electrification. The company is also committed to developing the semiconductor technology capable of supporting the rigors of IoT and empowering businesses to capitalize on their investments to drive profitability and ultimately success.

Following an initial pilot project that demonstrated new levels of control and visibility into the company's manufacturing operations, ON Semiconductor and Optimal Plus will further leverage their solutions to connect the ON Semiconductor global manufacturing footprint as demand continues to grow for the company's complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) and charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensors and other technologies that are powering disruptive applications in strategic growth markets.

"Demand for power products for automotive applications continues to grow. With an expansive portfolio for power and automotive applications, we continue to see strong growth in our power related revenue for automotive applications," said Mark Goranson, ON Semiconductor senior vice president manufacturing. "With a broad range of power products for a complete spectrum of voltages starting from low voltage to high voltage, we also have one of the most comprehensive portfolios of power devices and modules. Partnering with Optimal Plus is a key element to enable the shift from detect to predict and eventually prevent."

"The Intelligent Sensing Group within ON Semiconductor is innovating vision beyond the human eye and holds imaging and technology leadership in automotive, space, industrial and medical mission-critical market segments," said Mitch Mooney, general manager of ON Semiconductor Nampa, Idaho operations. "Optimal Plus provides advanced analytics with real-time visibility of our test operations through their leading-edge software that enables big data analysis of all our test parameters. We expect significant benefits in capital efficiency, yield enhancements and quality improvements."

ON Semiconductor is deploying Optimal Plus solutions to provide increased visibility into their manufacturing processes, from e-test to wafer sort, and final test including communication between geographically-dispersed semiconductor teams. The solution includes deep, multi-stage product analytics for near real-time response capabilities. A core element of the deployment will be enabling ON Semiconductor to lower their Defective Parts Per Million (DPPM) rates to the single digit range.

"The Optimal Plus platform was designed to deliver the actionable insights that ON Semiconductor requires to intelligently adapt operations to increase product yield, quality and productivity," said Dan Glotter, Optimal Plus Founder and CEO. "Together, ON Semiconductor and Optimal Plus are demonstrating how operations optimization is keeping manufacturers ahead of an increased adoption of Industrial IoT, electric vehicles, machine vision and other disruptive applications in automotive and industrial end markets."

For more information, visit www.onsemi.com.

Powerbox presents flexible and adaptable Enhanced Rail Power Solutions at Innotrans 2018
Posted: 2018-8-23

The Powerbox Group, one of Europe’s largest power supply companies and a leading force in optimizing power solutions for demanding applications, has announced that it will be showcasing its PRBX Enhanced Rail Power Solutions (PRBX-ERPS) at Innotrans 2018 in Berlin, 18 – 21 September 2018, Hall 17, Booth 103. From low power board-mounted DC/DC converters up to fully customized power solutions delivering multi-kilowatts, PRBX-ERPS is one of the most flexible and adaptable power solutions for railway applications. Designed to reduce time to market and meet specific rail industry requirements, PRBX-ERPS building blocks and solutions are tailored to adjust performance and parameters quickly, reducing time to market for new equipment, time to modernization for renovation and refurbishing, and inventories and their associated costs. PRBX-ERPS flexibility is built on three pillars: board-mounted AC/DC and DC/DC solutions, modular solutions integrating modules, filters and collaterals, and DIN rail, cassettes and racks when the PRBX-ERPS adaptability relies on the extensive custom power solution library, which includes more than 3500 released projects.

As part of PRBX-ERPS, PRBX will present its latest series of advanced DC/DC converters that includes a range of 8 to 20W, board-mounted DC/DC units designed to meet railway specifications EN50155, EN50121-3-2, EN61373 and EN45545. With an impressive input voltage range of 13:1, and covering from 12 to 160V, the MAD33 (8W), MAD32 (10W), MAE35 (15W) and MAF35 (20W) are the Swiss army knife of power-systems designers, bringing simplicity to complex applications. A single part number is able to power a large range of transportation applications, reducing inventory and time to market. All products are manufactured using industry standard packaging and pinouts. The extra-wide series of DC/DC converters are suitable for low power loads and devices in railway applications such as communication devices, GSM-R phones and their docking stations, routers/Wi-Fi access points, small screens, USB charging sockets (both in-seat and driver’s cabin), sensors, and standby power for larger devices. The series is complemented by the 4:1 series of DC/DC converters delivering up to 600W with paralleling capability for extra power.

At its booth Powerbox will present a series of products and solutions designed for adaptability when customers are facing the challenging demands of refurbishing, modernization and/or upgrades. In such applications Powerbox is able to call on its extensive knowledge base that with more than 3,500 custom solutions delivered to market, represents a huge depth of knowledge forged in an industry in which it has excelled for more than 40 years.

Powerbox will also be sharing the latest company news regarding the acquisition of the Powerbox Group by the leading Japanese power supplies manufacturer COSEL and the benefits of joint forces and a combined offering.

Meet Powerbox at Innotrans 2018 in Berlin, 18 – 21 September 2018, Hall 17, Booth 103

CUI Partners with SnapEDA to Offer Free PCB Footprint Files
Posted: 2018-6-27

CUI today announced that it has teamed up with SnapEDA, the market-leading parts library for circuit board design, to provide designers with a catalog of free, ready-to-download PCB footprints and symbols for CUI’s range of board mount electromechanical components.

Circuit board design has historically been a time-consuming and challenging process due to the variety of product configurations and standards. With this partnership, users will be able to prevent footprint errors and design smarter, thanks to a library of verified PCB footprints and symbols readily available in all major CAD formats, including: Altium, Eagle, KiCad, OrCAD/Allegro, PADS/DxDesigner, and PCB123.

The files are free to download from CUI’s CAD model library and product pages, or via the SnapEDA website, where they can then be placed directly into a product’s design.

“This partnership with SnapEDA is a continuation of CUI’s mission to equip our customers with necessary design tools and resources at every stage of the product development cycle,” said Jeff Schnabel, CUI’s VP of Global Marketing. “The addition of these PCB footprint files bolsters CUI’s already extensive catalog of ready-made 3D models, further streamlining the design process for engineers,” Schnabel concluded.

“We are committed to building the industry’s largest, verified library of component models. Adding CUI and their broad portfolio of board level components to our catalog supplies yet another source from which engineers can gather PCB files for seamless integration into their designs,” stated Natasha Baker, CEO of SnapEDA.

A Power Supply Can't Fix All EMC Woes, Yet Partnering with the Right Power Supply Experts Early Can
Posted: 2018-6-7

About 30 years ago I attended a key supplier conference for a very large OEM for which I was the FAE assigned to the account. One of the activities at this conference involved an exercise conducted by a consultant. The consultant split the attendees into small groups and gave them all the assignment of getting a house painted. The groups would need to determine all requirements and considerations associated with painting a house. But there was a catch: One half of the groups would do so while planning to paint the house themselves. But the other groups would outsource the task to a painter or painting company.

After 30 minutes or so we compared our lists. The teams which presented on painting the house ourselves had much shorter lists of requirements which were not overly demanding. For example, if we spilled some paint, "we would just wait till the grass or bushes regrew and cut the paint splattered part out". On the other hand, the groups that "outsourced" the painting had much stiffer requirements such as "if paint is spilled or gets on the bushes, the painter must re-sod and replace the bushes at the painter's expense, no questions asked."  

This exercise taught a simple lesson: if you do a job yourself the expectations will be a lot lower than if you outsource it.

Now, fast-forward to the present. For many companies in the electronics design and supply chain, the business has not changed much except that the margins everyone is making are much lower and the expectations are probably even higher. But does the lesson learned all those years ago still apply?  

Recently I was called by one of our customers who was failing EMC in the test lab. They were using one of our competitor's power supplies and we had been talking with them about using ours because of its superior value and performance. It was hard to ascertain if our pitch was falling on deaf ears or not.

Fig. 1. A product failing EMC testing. When this happened to one of my prospective customers,
they assumed that the power supply was at fault and tried swapping power supplies to no avail.

But now, with their product failing compliance testing, suddenly we were important to them as evidenced by them calling me after hours. The discussion went something like "does your power supply have lower EMC than the one I'm now using?" Of course they were talking about radiated EMC as I already had helped them with selecting a line filter, which was sufficient to make sure either power supply would pass conducted EMC. With their product in the test lab there was real urgency as—chah–ching, chah–ching—the money meter was running with the test lab charging them by the hour as the customer tried to get their product to pass EMC (Fig. 1).

I mentioned that I was going to be in their area the very next week and I offered to work with them in the test lab. When I arrived at the designated time, this would-be customer showed me what they had done thus far. Their product was in an RF anechoic chamber like the one shown in Fig. 2. They took the covers off and showed me the product and power supply location. Our competitor's product was buried inside the device with little shielding or attention to wire dress or filtering. Meanwhile our power supply was on the bench with an IEC cord feeding it ac from an outlet and twisted pair wires connecting the power supply's outputs to the product's electrical connections.

As I surveyed the scene, they asked "if your power supply can't pass, can you recommend one that will?" Like a gambler playing a slot machine, they were more than happy to keep pulling the power supply "handle" in hopes a better power supply would pay off and make them a compliance winner.  They thought it's like picking resistors off a catalog distributor's website or something similar.

However, both power supplies were running and every test was failing. I knew from experience that neither power supply was probably having much of an effect. The rails in the product were 12 V and 24 V at about 1 kW total.

With those voltages in mind, I advised the customer to go to the auto parts store and buy a couple of car batteries. They could then run shielded cables from the batteries into their product's chassis to power it, and re-run all the tests from the 12 and 24 V dc. Batteries after all, produce no EMI. So can we agree at that point power supplies would have nothing to do with the test? They agreed and set the test up.

As I expected, they failed radiated emissions again with very little change in the emission profile. Whoops! The customer realized it was the house they painted themselves, so what now? "Oh, we will just get the CE mark and ship it out to beta customers," they decided, bypassing the requirement for an EMC test lab certification. And the unspoken parting message to me was "when I need more free consulting work without actually using any of your products, we will call you again."

Besides confirming that the painting-the-house lesson still holds true, this story also has a moral: The power supply does not cause all radiated emissions problems in the end product. But the customer will call the power supply company anyway because it's easy to blame the problem on what they think is the noisiest part of the system.

Fig. 2. An example of an RF anechoic chamber used for radiated EMC testing. (Photo courtesy of NST)

What Did We Learn?

Several mistakes were made by the customer in the above story:

1. EMC was an afterthought—if they had called me earlier we would have had more options and fixed it properly.

2. The power supply selection, particularly the choice of the power supply vendor, was given as much consideration as the selection of paper towels and the power towel maker, for the towels used in the company restrooms. They thought the power supply was just another commodity item—it's all generic. So when a problem that might be power supply related occurred, they just kept trying anything and everything in the hopes that something would work.

3. They waited until the end of the process to test the product for EMC with no pre-compliance testing. 

4. They didn't build a relationship with the power supply company or bother to select one that actually has field applications staff that can come and help. They waited until they had an emergency and when no support was available from the default supplier they asked us for help. Their alternatives would have been to suffer in silence or deal with phone support from a far off land.

5. They didn't design for EMC all during the design process from concept to finish. 

6. They thought that a power supply is always the main culprit in radiated emissions regardless of its integration in the end product with no consideration of their system impact or how the power supply is integrated in the system.

7. They kicked the compliance can down the road for later. CE won't accept other EMC approvals and other EMC agencies won't accept CE since all you have to do is pay a CE consultant to pass. This problem will surface another day. Probably when time to market is critical.

I offered to help the customer with a re-design of their product so they would pass EMC. I also mentioned that, in general, it's best to pick a power supply up front and then work closely with the supplier on the design of the product's I/O to the power supply, system design, filtering and such so that the test lab experience will be a good one.

Power supply selection is much more important than most engineers realize. It's not just picking a part from the Internet. It's a system selection and partnership commitment. Beyond that, power electronics is a partnership relationship. It's a collaborative commitment to making sure your product passes all safety, compliance and regulatory testing on the first pass.

Reference: "When Invaluable Kills Business" by Frederic Leens, 12-11-2017.

Kevin Parmenter, Vice President of Applications Engineering in the U.S.A., Excelsys, an Advanced Energy company





Jim Spangler, President, Spangler Prototype Inc. (SPI)







Editor's Note: This article was first published in the January 2018 issue of  How2Power Today (www.how2power.com/newsletters).

Power supplies for railway applications – On the rails to 2020
Posted: 2018-6-6

In a study presented at the international rail exhibition, Innotrans 2016 in Berlin, the European Rail Industry summarized the state of the business as representing a market size estimated to reach 229 billion USD by 2020. This amount includes new infrastructures, trains and vehicles and an often hidden yet important part, railway modernization. From Asia to the USA, every country has a railway infrastructure, some of which some are 100 years old (e.g. catenaries).

To meet the growing market demand for enhanced safety and modernization in the USA the 'Grow America Act' supports railway modernization with predictable, dedicated investments. States and local communities need the certainty of sustained funding to make these transportation investments that are necessary to improve the infrastructure and support their economic growth. To meet this, the Act is investing $29 billion over a six year period to improve rail safety and invest in a National High-Performance Rail System. One particular area to benefit from the Act is Positive Train Control (PTC). PTC is a system of functional requirements for monitoring and controlling train movements, a type of train protection system. The Act also builds on current investments to enhance flexibility in financing programs that will better enable the rehabilitation of aging infrastructure. For sure, the power supplies share of these investments is marginal compared to heavy rolling stock or infrastructure. Though without power supplies, nothing would be possible, and so power designers are actively engaged in railway modernization.

As we approach the next edition of Innotrans, it is both relevant and interesting to take a minute to consider the many challenges that power supply manufacturers are facing in their quest to make railways safer, coupled with the highest service levels for passengers.

From conservative to progressive

For decades, the railway sector has been a challenging area for the power supply industry to develop very specific power solutions to meet the requirements of this complex market. The sector consists of three main categories: new equipment, modernization, and the maintenance and upgrading of equipment that entered service 10 years ago or more. Each of these categories represents particular demands on the part of the developer and requires skills specific to each case.

Although the railway sector is very conservative and priority is given to reliability and robustness, the new generation of "digital technology trained" engineers involved in the development of new rail systems are increasingly integrating digital control and encouraging the implementation of energy-efficient topologies such as the Gallium Nitride transistors. In the railway sector this approach is quite new, requiring more extensive qualification work during product development, bringing new constraints for engineers responsible for guaranteeing durable solutions for the next twenty years. This is a very interesting aspect for design engineers and a great opportunity to cooperate directly with the design offices of major railway customers.

From point-of-load to multi kilowatts - with compliance

The range of railway applications is very wide and consists of a large number of applications requiring simple proximity voltage regulators point-of-load (POL) to converters or inverters of several hundred kilowatts powering the motors of traction engines and other traction vehicles. In term of overall railway market, if we exclude the service part of the segment, rolling stock represents the majority of applications, followed by infrastructure and finally, track side and signaling. Each of these sub-segments has its own requirements that are specific to its environment. For example, converters for vehicle (e.g. locomotive) startup control, so called Low Battery Voltage Starter (LBVS) are connected to high voltage catenaries to deliver a low battery voltage, requiring very high insulation and high-level safety constraints. In addition, all on-board equipment must comply with general standards such as EN50155, which covers electronic equipment used in rolling stock (a standard that incorporates many other standards such as EN 50121-3-2 for electromagnetic compatibility). The railway field is highly standardized and each development begins with an analysis of the application case and related standards.

In addition to the traditional standards governing operating quality, operational parameters and safety, after more than 20 years of evaluation and its publication in 2013, this year the EN45545 standard (resistance and fire behavior) has become mandatory for all rolling stock. This standard aims to eliminate the risk of fire during a technical incident and all toxic fumes resulting from combustion of the product. For power supply manufacturers, this means selecting components that meet this standard and carrying out additional tests to ensure full compliance with the various chapters of EN45545.

Apart from the large number of standards, one of the specificities of the railway sector is the fact that many applications have very specific requirements in terms of housings and connectors, often resulting in products that are dedicated to a particular customer. While the trend is towards the standardization of card modules such as DC/DC converters, for more complex products such as locomotive starter converters or decentralized battery chargers, custom designed product remains the norm. This requires a development capacity geared towards these products and a high degree of flexibility in production. In fact, despite a growing market (+6% per year), the volumes of power supplies used in the railway sector remain modest compared to the millions of units consumed in the telecommunications sector, requiring the manufacturers, such as Powerbox, to adapt their production tools to specific demands.

Designing power for long life time

The majority of customers in the railway sector require a 30 years or more availability for some critical equipment. This means that during development this service life must be taken into account, as well as the possibility of the replacement of certain components such as electrolytic capacitors affected by aging during life time, must be considered during the design. Knowing that railway power supplies can be exposed to severe environmental effects such as temperature variations or shock and vibration during the life of the product, equipment manufacturers include "components refreshment and re-calibration" in their specifications. It is common to see products delivered more than 15 years ago return to the manufacturer for review and updating. This practice is very specific to the railway sector and has a strong influence on the way feeds are designed.

Indeed, a 30-year lifespan obliges design engineers to select components with a low risk of obsolescence but also to design the product for possible upgrade during its useful life. This adds a level of complexity but also limits the introduction of new technologies. As mentioned above, engineers in charge of the development of tomorrow's railway systems want to integrate new technologies, but the limited knowledge of their lifecycle and sustainability raises questions about the level of risk associated with their introduction. This is a topical issue that is being debated within the railway community which on the one hand wants to modernize its power supply systems to make them more energy-efficient and with better communications, and on the other hand to guarantee a risk-free sustainability.

Time to market challenges

Basically, the technologies used to develop railway power supplies are very similar to those used in other segments, and with years of experience, developers of the former have built up expertise enabling them to reduce development times. However, new standards and the introduction of new technologies will increase development time. Considering the wide range of power supplies used in railways, if we exclude so-called "standard" products such as modules for boards having a development cycle of about 14 months, more of customers' complex projects can easily reach 24 or even more months awaiting approval. This means working closely with OEMs who, aware of these delays and facing increasing price competition from Asia, are pushing for the development of blocks of functions that can be reused on multiple projects.

Because of the large and increasing demand pressure for modernization of rail systems, the design lead times have to be shortened, which means a different approach. In the case of rolling stock, this is rather complicated involving a number of specific aspects such as certifications. In the case of traffic control and signaling systems, the constraints are less stringent and it is possible to use power supplies such as those for DIN rail mounting that already exist. An energy subsystem such as ones provided by Powerbox's Battery Backup Unit (BBU) can be customized in less than three months to meet specific demands, including the addition of radio transmission telemetry systems. This is the type of modularity that OEMs are beginning to implement in rolling stock, but it will take time.

The impact of modernizing railway networks on power supplies has many aspects because it is not conceivable to stop the operation of the existing systems, nor to replace all existing infrastructure. For rolling stock, this often involves the addition of complementary technologies such as Wi-Fi for passenger comfort or on-board telemetry to increase safety. In this case, the power supplies are of a rather standard type and are often part of the installed system without any major change to rolling stock.

In the case of major modernization of a complete train (what is usually referred as "refurbishment") which consists of the revamping of one that has already endured a long life span, equipment manufacturers ask power supplies manufacturers to develop Fit, Form and Function (3F) alternatives. That is, a revised and updated power supplies but where the units' fit, form and function remain the same, thus reducing implementation delays and guaranteeing the durability of the host equipment for many years. The development of a 3F power supply is very close to a specific development, but by combining the expertise of engineers, the platforms available from manufacturers specialized in the field of railroads, and the reuse of the original case or chassis it makes possible to reduce development times spectacularly.

Most of the modernization of European rail networks is carried out at tracks and signaling systems level. Accordingly, equipment cabinets very often remain in place and installers ask for 3F solutions from the power supply manufacturers that can be installed in place of the old systems; a relatively simple process of "old equipment out, new equipment in". In the case of very old systems, the technique used is to install an industrial chassis in the cabinet to facilitate the installation of standardized racks, which subsequently reduces the time required for updating, such as adding additional radio-telemetry systems or connecting the cabinet to fiber optic systems.

The general trend in railway power supplies is to reduce development times by adopting standardized or semi-standardized sub-assemblies. This is the intention of equipment manufacturers and increasingly the adopted solution for systems close to the tracks or embedded applications using card converters or cassettes. However there will always remain very specific power supplies requiring on-demand solutions that will continue to call upon very specific skills.

Provided by Patrick Le Fèvre 
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Powerbox




PSMA Announces New Officers and Board of Directors
Posted: 2018-4-26
Twelve-member board brings together industry leadership and expertise covering the dynamic technological advances impacting the power sources industry

The Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA) is pleased to announce that a new slate of officers has been elected to lead its board of directors for the 2018-2020 term. The new officers are: Chairman Stephen Oliver (Navitas Semiconductor), President Mike Hayes (Tyndall National Institute), Vice President Fred Weber (Future Technology Worldwide) and Secretary/Treasurer Michel Grenon (Gaia Converter Inc.).

“PSMA continues to drive the promotion of the tremendous technical advances being made in power conversion systems, products and component technologies,” said Stephen Oliver, PSMA’s new chairman. “The Association’s critical work in producing its Technology Roadmap—plus the influential work from the PSMA committees on Packaging, Energy Management, Energy Harvesting, and many others—relies on the active participation of our members. We welcome and encourage all companies in our industry to become part of the organization.”

The twelve members of the board are elected by the member company representatives to serve three-year terms, with four members rotating off each year. In addition to the new officers, the following members complete the PSMA’s strong board of directors for 2018-2019:

  • Alain Chapius, Bel Power Solutions
  • Dhaval Dalal, ON Semiconductor
  • Alexander Gerfer, Würth Elektronik
  • Tim McDonald, Infineon Technologies
  • Brian Narveson, Narveson Innovative Consulting
  • Kevin Parmenter, Excelsys Technologies, Ltd., an Advanced Energy Company
  • Conor Quinn, Artesyn Embedded Technologies
  • Brian Zahnstecher, PowerRox
International Future Energy Challenge - A New Challenge
Posted: 2017-12-31

The Future Energy Challenge started in 2001 as a bi-annual competition in North America. Prof. Jason Lai from Virginia Tech organized this first competition. In 2003, the competition became an international event and was officially named the International Future Energy Challenge (IFEC). From 2003 to 2015, a total of 152 university teams had participated in IFEC. With more teams participating in the competition, the steering committee of IFEC decided to change the competition from a bi-annual event to an annual event starting in 2016.

In 2017, the competition was hosted by Prof. Qiang Li from the Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES) at Virginia Tech. Sponsors of the 2017 IFEC include IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS), IEEE Industry Applications Society (IAS), IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) and Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA). Combining 2016 and 2017, the number of IFEC participants are almost doubled from the past bi-annual competitions.

In 2017, the competition topic was high-Efficiency high-density isolated dc/dc converter. The converter needed to work with a dc input (360~400 V dc) and output a constant 12 V dc voltage with a peak power of 750 W. The targeted power density was 15 W/cm3 or higher with a peak efficiency requirement of 97% at 50% of the rated load. At the final onsite competition, the converter went through all functional tests, and a 55 oC high operation temperature test. Competition  teams  were  encouraged  to  adopt  WBG  power devices  in  innovative  circuit  topologies  to achieve high efficiency and high density at the same time.  Twenty-three teams from five continents joined the competition. The grand prize went to Kunming University of Science and Technology. You can see the full list of winners at energychallenge.weebly.com/ifec-2017.html.

The IFEC2018 call for proposals is already out. This time, the topic is high-efficiency high-density isolated bidirectional dc/dc converter for residential energy storage systems. The final competition will be hosted at the Tsinghua University in Beijing. Visit energychallenge.weebly.com/ifec-2018.html for more information. The IFEC2019 will be hosted at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.  The topic will be electric bicycle with an emphasis on motor control.  IFEC, a new challenge awaits!

Provided by
IFEC 2017 Organizing Committee Members:
Qiang Li, Virginia Tech
Jin Wang, Ohio State University
Yaow-ming Chen, National Taiwan University


Transphorm Secures Investment from Yaskawa Electric
Posted: 2017-11-30

Transphorm Inc., the leader in the design and manufacturing of highest reliability (JEDEC and AEC-Q101 qualified) 650V gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors, announced it received a $15 million investment from Yaskawa Electric Corporation. This news comes only a few weeks after Yaskawa revealed its integrated Σ-7 F servo motor relies on Transphorm’s high-voltage (HV) GaN to deliver unprecedented performance and power density. Transphorm intends to allocate the funds to various areas of its GaN product development.

“We've seen the benefits of working with gallium nitride from the R&D phases through to the application development phases of our products, such as photovoltaic converters and the integrated Σ-7 F servo motor,” said Yukio Tsutsui, General Manager of Corporate R&D Center from Yaskawa. “We look ahead to further developments from Transphorm and its cutting-edge technology.”

The integrated  Σ-7 F products resulting from the companies’ co-development serves one of the core target markets that can benefit most from HV GaN: servo motors. The technology is also an optimal solution for automotive systems, data center and industrial power supplies, renewable energy and other broad industrial applications.

“Transphorm has consistently prioritized the quality and reliability of our GaN platform,” said Dr. Umesh Mishra, Chairman, CTO and co-founder of Transphorm. “That focus leads to strong customer relationships with visionaries such as Yaskawa and companies that not only innovate, but also influence market growth by demonstrating GaN’s real-world impact. Receiving Yaskawa’s recent support illustrates the rising confidence in GaN while underscoring its reliability.” 

iNEMI Names New Roadmap Manager
Posted: 2017-9-9
Linda Wilson has extensive experience in technology roadmapping and international collaboration

The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) announced that Linda Steele Wilson has been named Roadmap Manager for the consortium. She replaces Chuck Richardson, who has headed iNEMI’s roadmapping efforts since 2006. Chuck will continue working with iNEMI as a roadmap consultant.
“With her impressive experience in technology roadmaps, as well consortium-based activities, Linda is a very strong addition to our team,” said Bill Bader, iNEMI CEO. “The roadmap is a critical and unique deliverable for iNEMI, both in terms of setting direction for our own activities and for supporting the electronics manufacturing supply chain. We welcome Linda’s leadership in this area as we begin ramping up for our next roadmap cycle.

“We want to thank Chuck for the way he has helped the roadmap grow and evolve over the past 11 years. The 2017 Roadmap was our largest deliverable ever. He has done an absolutely marvelous job of leading the iNEMI roadmap and of wrapping up the 2017 Technical Plan and Research Priorities, which are part of our roadmapping process.”

Wilson served as program manager and managing editor of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) for more than 20 years. She was a critical part of the committee to transform the national roadmap effort into the first international industry roadmap.

In addition to her work with the ITRS, Wilson successfully led an initiative to produce the CIGS (copper indium gallium di-selenide) Photovoltaic Roadmap, working with the Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC) and industry leaders. She most recently served as the program manager and team facilitator for a new roadmap initiative with BioPhorum Operations Group, a bio-pharmaceutical consortium, and serves as roadmap consultant for the IEEE roadmap initiatives for the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems (IRDS), and the 5G and Beyond roadmap efforts.

“I am delighted to be on the team of this historically important roadmap,” said Wilson. “The highly regarded iNEMI roadmap continually guides the development of a strong industry ecosystem from research to end-user applications. My role is clear in continuing the evolution of this roadmap and it is terrific to be part of the effort.  My thanks especially to Chuck both as a roadmap colleague through the years and as instrumental in developing this successful process I hope to serve.”

Richardson joined the iNEMI staff in 2001. He began working on the roadmap as staff manager, starting with the 2002 Roadmap, and took over the reins completely in 2006. During that time, the roadmap grew significantly in size and scope, and became an international effort providing a truly global perspective. The 2002 Roadmap featured 23 chapters and approximately 1,000 pages, while the most recent edition (2017) had 28 chapters, more than 2,300 pages, and included new chapters on topics such as Internet of Things, flexible hybrid electronics, and ceramic substrates and photovoltaic technology. Participation in the roadmap also grew. In 2002, there were 365 participants from 165 organization, most of which were domestic. More than 500 individuals from at least 22 countries, and representing more than 350 organizations helped create the 2017 Roadmap.

For additional information about iNEMI, visit www.inemi.org.

Announcing the Formation of the PSMA Reliability Committee
Posted: 2017-9-4

T he Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA) is proud to announce the formation of a new Technology Committee - the Reliability Committee. The PSMA Reliability Committee was formed to identify key industry initiatives related to the reliability and performance of power supplies and associated products and will be Co-chaired by Tony O'Brien of Cisco Systems and Brian Zahnstecher of PowerRox.

The Committee held an inaugural meeting on Thursday August 10. The committee already has 10 members representing a mix of industry professionals including power supply vendors, OEMs/customers and semiconductor component vendors, ensuring broad coverage of issues that affect the whole power electronics industry. The first action of the Committee is to survey selected industry veterans to develop a prioritized list of the most pertinent initiatives related to reliability. The output of this survey will be combined with a focus on the robustness of software/firmware in digital power solutions and will determine the initial, tangible issues and direction for the Committee efforts.

If you are interested in having a direct hand in identifying and addressing key industry issues that plague developments, inhibit customer applications, delay schedules, increase costs, and drive field infant mortality rates, then please join us. Monthly meetings will be held via teleconference on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 11am Central Time, with the next scheduled call on September 13.

For more information and to join the membership list for the Reliability Committee , please contact the PSMA Association Office at power@psma.com.

PSMA's Power Technology Roadmap 2017
Posted: 2017-7-21
Will Power Empower the Electronics Industry?

The Power Sources Manufacturers' Association (PSMA) published its tenth and latest edition of  the Power Technology Roadmap (PTR 2017).  PSMA undertakes this project, where participants from respective fields analyze trends in key power supply parameters, applications, components and emerging technologies, once every two years. From its early days in 1994, when the first PSMA Power Technology Roadmap was released, it has gone through significant evolution in its scope and content. 

This edition of the Roadmap is a product of two-year effort involving 82 participants that includes online webinars, technical articles and online surveys that provided inputs for forecasting. The webinar topics are wide-ranging and all-encompassing, covering as many aspects of power supply technology as possible. Webinars in this edition of the Roadmap include wireless transfer, component technologies, passive devices, high frequency magnetics, isolation technologies and many others. The technical articles are very focused in their pre-defined subject matter and the online surveys are designed to gather information to project future trends in key parameters. Such a unique combination of subjects and scope prepared with the inputs of knowlegable participants from the industy, makes this report unique and highly comprehensive.

The Roadmap provides both a quantitative and a qualitative analysis of technology. While the online surveys are used to gather quantitative data, the qualitative analysis is provided by industry experts who have contributed to the report either by presenting a webinar or by writing an article on a specific topic.

At the core, the PTR provides a three-dimensional overview of three key aspects of power technology:

  • Trends in key metrics in following power supplies and converters:
    • Ac-dc front-end power supplies (200 W – 2000 W)
    • External ac-dc power supplies (10 W – 100 W)
    • Isolated dc-dc converters (100 W, regulated)
    • Non-isolated dc-dc converters (subdivided into the standard non-isolated dc-dc and power supply in a package (PSiP) converters)

These products were selected because they are widely used in the industry. The same products were used in the past, thus making a comparative analysis easy. The key metrics used for trend analysis include efficiency, cost, power density and reliability. With 2016 as the base year, the projections were done for 2019 and 2021. In addition, the report provides some retrospective analysis that checks past forecasts, to see if they were accurate or inaccurate. This analysis will be used to make any future adjustments.

  • Component technology that includes, power semiconductors, ICs and magnetic materials  
  • Applications trends and emerging Technologies:

Application trends are included for automotive, computing, consumer, lighting, medical, motor control, battery changing and energy harvesting. The emerging technologies are associated with magnetics, integrated magnetics, 3D power packaging, additive manufacturing and nanofluids.

The Roadmap is an important report that can provide companies with information about various technologies, data for benchmarking their current products and technology trends for strategic planning.

The organizers for the 2017 PSMA Power Technology Roadmap have made an interesting argument that the Roadmap is designed to "Empower the Electronics Industry". It is stated in the title of the report. At first glance, the concept that power supply technology will empower the electronics industry seems like wishful thinking or even preposterous, but it should not be rejected out of hand. Dr. Conor Quinn, Co-Chair of the organizing committee gave a plenary presentation at APEC 2017 in Tampa that focused on this stream of thought.

Dr. Quinn stated, that in the past the power supply industry was technology-responsive to all established and traditional markets such as consumer, computers and networking. Companies or industries engaged in these markets did not much care about the development of power supplies as these markets designed their own products and then purchased a power supply as an afterthought to fulfill their specific needs. However, this may not be the case in the development of emerging new markets including automotive, solar inverters, variable frequency drives and LEDs. These markets are power-technology driven markets. Power is not a secondary after-thought, but is central to the development of these markets. Many new applications are power-centric as alternative energy and efficient use of energy takes center stage in the development of future markets. For companies participating in such new products, knowledge of the power supply technology and its evolution will be essential for their successful development. The new 2017 Power Technology Roadmap will provide that information, knowledge and insight. It is designed to empower the electronics industry.



Provided by Mohan Mankikar,
President, Micro-Tech Consultants



International Workshop on Integrated Power Packaging (IWIPP) 2017
Posted: 2017-7-2

The 2017 International Workshop on Integrated Power Packaging (IWIPP), which was held at the Technical University of Delft from April 5-7, was a great event focused on upcoming developments in packaging from the device to the system, with 80 total attendees across industry, research, and academic institutions in the fields of power packaging and system design. This year's attendees were exposed to three days of inter-disciplinary technical content focused on the enhanced understanding of the major issues within the power packaging industry. On both Wednesday and Thursday morning, the conference agenda was opened with curated tutorials – one on Packaging & Thermal Management by Dr. Patrick McCluskey of the University of Maryland, and one on Electrical Insulation by Dr. Thierry Lebey of the University of Toulouse. Friday morning introduced a Modeling & Reliability Panel Session with leaders from different simulation and modeling fields across both academic and industry organizations. This year's technical sessions addressed Systems & Circuits,  Power Modules, Packaging & Interconnects, Thermal Management, and Sensors, Passives, & EMI. In addition to the technical sessions, tutorials, and panel sessions, each day also included invited keynote presentations selected to discuss the future of the wide bandgap and power packaging industry.

Wolfspeed's Brice McPherson, a power module design engineer, presenting on how innovative thermal management techniques can improve the Hybrid-Electric Vehicle Market.
Second day of Technical Sessions.

The 2017 IWIPP Student Travel Grant Award winner was Andrea Wallace of the University of Arkansas, who presented on her research group's work with Thermo-Mechanical Reliability of Silicon Carbide Schottky Diode Flip-Chip packaging. Andrea is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Center for Space & Planetary Sciences Department, pursuing research in the field of Power Packaging for High Temperature Applications under Dr. Alan Mantooth. Andrea's Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, coupled with her career goal to work with space-bound systems, lead her to choose the power packaging research field and to attend the 2017 IWIPP event, due to its inter-disciplinary nature.

General Chair, Dr. Ty McNutt, of Wolfspeed presenting IWIPP's 2017 Student Travel Grant Award Winner, Andrea Wallace, with her conference stipend.
View from Wolfspeed's Conference Banquet activity, which was a guided tour through the historic canals of Delft.

While the conference was heavy with technical sessions, there were also plenty of networking opportunities available to attendees. On Wednesday, upon conclusion of the technical sessions, attendees were invited to a Poster, Lab Tour, & Exhibition Reception, sponsored by Murata. There were three posters, which represented technical papers included in the proceedings, and five technical demonstrations from TU Delft researchers; a tour of TU Delft's famous High Voltage laboratory was also provided during Murata's Welcome Reception. On Thursday evening, the conference attendees celebrated a successful event with a boat trip through the historic canals of Delft, followed by the Wolfspeed Conference Banquet where prizes from IWIPP's industrial sponsors were raffled off. Winners received: an Apple Watch, courtesy of Wolfspeed; an Apple iPad, courtesy of Murata; a Lego® Mindstorms® set, courtesy of Littelfuse; and Holland's famous Stroopwafels, courtesy of ISP Systems.

The 2017 event brought together a multi-faceted group of supporting technical organizations; in addition to the Power Sources Manufacturers Associations (PSMA), the event also included: the IEEE Components, Packaging & Manufacturing Technology Society; the IEEE Dielectric & Electrical Insulation Society; the IEEE Power Electronics Society; and the European Center for Power Electronics. These societies all remain committed to expanding the future development of the International Workshop on Integrated Power Packaging. The next International Workshop on Integrated Power Packaging is currently being planned, and the 2019 location will be announced on the website in the coming months. For 2019, the IWIPP Steering Committee plans to expand its commitment to bringing together inter-disciplinary thought leaders in the field of power packaging to discuss innovative solutions to the industry's biggest challenges. Please stay tuned for more information about the event from PSMA and to learn how you can become involved in the 2019 event.

Provided by Lauren Kegley, IWIPP 2017 Sponsorship & Publications Chair


2017 iNEMI Roadmap
Posted: 2017-5-5

The complete 2017 iNEMI Roadmap is now available. The final chapters are in, and the full roadmap document plus 100-page executive summary are ready for download. 

With 28 chapters and 2000+ pages, this is the largest roadmap we’ve published to date. It includes:

  • A new chapter on Internet of Things
  • Four chapters not updated or included last cycle:
    • Aerospace & Defense
    • Information Management 
    • Packaging & Component Substrates 
    • Test, Inspection & Measurement 
  • Expanded scope for two chapters:
    • Connectors now includes electronic and photonic connectors
    • Interconnect Substrates-Ceramic is now Ceramic Substrates & Photovoltaic Technology

For more information, visit www.inemi.org.


The Trump Administration's Impact on the Power Electronics' Industry
Posted: 2017-3-2

Even though the free market rules the business world, government policies and regulations on trade can shape the industry structure. Usually companies prefer more free trade and less government regulation. Companies like access to markets that provide higher revenues and higher profits, while governments like higher employment for its citizens. Sometimes these intentions can be contradictory. 

The electronic trade is vastly global. Although products from US companies are prominent and highly visible, most of these products, especially hardware, are manufactured in China. In addition, many components including active and passive devices are manufactured by multi-national companies located in Europe and Japan. From a trade perspective, the United States generally remains the most open country with the least restrictions. The new Trump administration has taken a staunch protectionist stance with its “America First” policy. It has promised to restrict trade by forcing companies to manufacture products in the U.S. to increase domestic employment. 

So, what will be the impact of the Trump administration’s policies on the electronics industry? The electronics industry, primarily hardware manufacturing, has moved to China; President Trump has consistently mentioned China as a currency manipulator that is engaged in unfair trade practices and has gamed the system for its own gains resulting in America’s loss. It is true that despite having original and superior product design, America has failed to “scale up the products.” America designs products but China manufactures them. Thus, China’s employment in electronic manufacturing has increased significantly. Though Mr. Trump is addressing this issue today, America’s weakness in mass scale manufacturing was succinctly addressed by the late Mr. Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel. He wrote a landmark article, “How America Can Create Jobs”, in Bloomberg Businessweek almost 7 years ago. Dr. Grove, argued that just having R&D is not sufficient, scaling or mass manufacturing of the product is also important and necessary. He mentioned that “scaling is hard work but necessary to make innovation matter.” In addition, Mr. Grove stated that job creation must be the Number 1 objective of state economic policy. This has been Mr. Trump’s slogan all along, and many will be surprised to find that Mr. Grove’s views expressed in the Bloomberg BusinessWeek article were quite similar to that of Mr. Trump’s today. 

On February 8, 2017, Intel’s CEO Mr. Brian Krzanich announced that the company will invest $7 billion in an Arizona plant that will employ 3,000 people. Mr. Krzanich made the announcement during a White House visit with Mr. Trump- but NPR’s Marketplace reported that this decision was 4 years in the making. Though Intel can manufacture its chips in the US, due to its highly-automated processes, most of the electronic hardware manufacturing has moved to China and is not expected to shift back to the United States anytime soon. China remains the global manufacturing center for the electronic hardware, including power supplies.

Will President Trump change this global order with tariffs, duties or quotas?

Apple’s iPhone provides an insight into the strength of Chinese manufacturing. It is not just about low-labor costs, rather China seems to have the entire manufacturing infrastructure in place together with strong government support and fire-in-the-belly attitude when it comes to manufacturing iconic electronic products like Apple’s iPhone.

For insight into Chinese manufacturing, one has to read an excellent article written by Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher of the New York Times, about why Apple makes iPhones and iPads in China instead of the United States. The essence of the article is that when Steve Jobs wanted to change iPhone’s screen from plastic to glass, only Foxconn in China could scale up and deliver the product in six weeks in very large quantities. Though the glass itself was made by Corning, a US company, there was no US company that could deliver the product in such high quantities in such a short timeframe. Duhigg and Bradsher reported that the end-to-end process of building the iPhones required 8,700 mid-level engineers. In the United States, Apple estimated it would have taken 9 months to hire these many engineers; in China, it took 15 days. The United States just could not match China’s manufacturing and infrastructure prowess. Within 3 months, Apple sold a million iPhones. Today iPhones are considered one of the greatest products of 21st century that have changed lives of millions of people.

At least in electronics hardware, the US has lost its super mass scale manufacturing to China. Power supplies also reflect this situation with about 70% of power supplies being manufactured in China. Mr. Trump wants to impose a 35% tariff on Chinese goods coming to US. China said it will retaliate. Will this increased tariff suddenly make the US into a mass-manufacturing haven for the electronic goods or just create a devastating trade war?

On February, 9, 2017, in a letter to President Xi Jinping, President Trump called for constructive US-China relationship. The future awaits in suspense.


Provided by Mohan Mankikar,
President, Micro-Tech Consultants



PSMA Offers Power Supply Safety & Compliance Database as Free Resource for All Industry Professionals
Posted: 2016-8-31
On-line database provides comprehensive review of international operational, environmental and safety standards; access offered free to PSMA members and non-members

The Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA) announces the availability of a new on-line Safety & Compliance Database. The continually updated resource lists the many state, national and worldwide organizations currently active in establishing and maintaining safety, electromagnetic compatibility, material toxicity and environmental standards for power supplies used in commercial applications. Recognizing the database as an invaluable tool for power electronics industry professionals, the PSMA is offering it free of charge to both PSMA members and non-members alike.

Intended users of the Safety & Compliance Database are those who design power systems for products that will be offered in the global marketplace, and who therefore need to comply with current and evolving safety and standards for their target markets. The database can be searched by specific applications; giving the most recent status of standards, identifying key documents, meetings and milestones associated with each standard, and providing links to the appropriate websites of controlling organizations.

“As companies design their new products for global markets, they have to grapple with current, new – and sometimes conflicting – safety standards and regulations,” reported Kevin Parmenter and Jim Spangler, co-chairs of the PSMA Safety & Compliance Committee. “Our new Safety & Compliance Database provides a vital resource for engineers and product planners as they keep abreast of standards, including ongoing activities, proposed changes and updates, and information on the latest versions.”

The PSMA contracted with Anagenesis Inc. to create and provide continual updates to the database. Interested users can opt in to receive weekly email alerts about new information and changes. The database also features the ability for users to request permission to direct and track information on emerging standards, which enables the database to evolve and improve.

The Safety & Compliance Database is easily accessible from the Quick Links on the upper right of the PSMA homepage or the Safety Database tab of the Safety & Compliance Technical Forum. Anyone who already has an account on the PSMA website, just needs to log in to access the database. Those who have not yet registered must follow an easy registration process to request access.

PSMA Offers Power Supply Safety & Compliance Database as Free Resource for All Industry Professionals
Posted: 2016-7-1
On-line database provides comprehensive review of international operational, environmental and safety standards; access offered free to PSMA members and non-members

The Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA) announces the availability of a new on-line Safety & Compliance Database. The continually updated resource lists the many state, national and worldwide organizations currently active in establishing and maintaining safety, electromagnetic compatibility, material toxicity and environmental standards for power supplies used in commercial applications. Recognizing the database as an invaluable tool for power electronics industry professionals, the PSMA is offering it free of charge to both PSMA members and non-members alike.

Intended users of the Safety & Compliance Database are those who design power systems for products that will be offered in the global marketplace, and who therefore need to comply with current and evolving safety and standards for their target markets. The database can be searched by specific applications; giving the most recent status of standards, identifying key documents, meetings and milestones associated with each standard, and providing links to the appropriate websites of controlling organizations.

“As companies design their new products for global markets, they have to grapple with current, new – and sometimes conflicting – safety standards and regulations,” reported Kevin Parmenter and Jim Spangler, co-chairs of the PSMA Safety & Compliance Committee. “Our new Safety & Compliance Database provides a vital resource for engineers and product planners as they keep abreast of standards, including ongoing activities, proposed changes and updates, and information on the latest versions.”

The PSMA contracted with Anagenesis Inc. to create and provide continual updates to the database. Interested users can opt in to receive weekly email alerts about new information and changes. The database also features the ability for users to request permission to direct and track information on emerging standards, which enables the database to evolve and improve.

The Safety & Compliance Database is easily accessible from the Quick Links on the upper right of the PSMA homepage or the Safety Database tab of the Safety & Compliance Technical Forum. Anyone who already has an account on the PSMA website, just needs to log in to access the database. Those who have not yet registered must follow an easy registration process to request access.

PSMA Safety & Compliance Committee
Posted: 2015-6-22

PSMA is pleased to announce the formation of a new technical committee, the Safety & Compliance Committee. If you or your company is involved with the design and marketing of power products it is critical that they comply with the safety and emission standards where they are sold. You are invited to participate in the Safety & Compliance Committee and benefit from the discussions and alerts on existing and changing standards. 


The PSMA Safety & Compliance Committee mission is to provide a resource for our members and the power electronics community in the dynamic area of safety, regulatory and compliance issues and requirements concerning power electronics. These include:

  • Monitor trends, developments and standards covering military, industrial, computing, telecom/datacom and medical aspects of power conversion electronic products 
  • A focus on US and global EMI-RFI, safety, surge- transients, hold-up time standards
  • Discussion of existing and evolving standards and trends that apply to power converters and to provide a resource to members and the industry


The committee will support a comprehensive on line data base which will be a repository of standards and requirements that affect the power supplies and which will be periodically updated to include the status, trends and issues and upcoming changes by region and country. It is expected that the database would be updated and administrated using a similar process as for the PSMA Energy Efficiency database currently on the PSMA website. 

Membership activities

Members of the Committee are encouraged to participate in monthly calls – in general each of the PSMA technical committees meet once a month via teleconference. 
As the saying goes, “Many hands make light work” and participants are invited who are knowledgeable and can actively contribute or are interested in networking with others in the industry to share experiences or concerns. 
In addition to the database activities, other committee activities may include organizing an Industry Session for APEC on Safety and Compliance issues and contributing to the PSMA Power Technology Roadmap.


We would like to invite all parties interested in regulatory and safety aspects of power electronics to attend and participate. Help us to understand and to communicate the challenge and impact facing our industry in conforming to these evolving global standards. We encourage you to join our meetings or invite others in your organization involved in these areas.

So, let us know if you or others in your organization are interested in becoming an active member of the PSMA Safety & Compliance Committee. We expect you will find that you will get as much out or more than you put into it. 
If interested, please send contact information to power@psma.com.

Provided by Kevin Parmenter, Safety & Compliance Committee Chair


Why Should Your Company Be A Member Of PSMA?
Posted: 2014-12-21

The PSMA is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in the state of California whose purpose is to enhance the stature and reputation of its members and their products, to improve their knowledge of technological and other developments related to power sources, and to educate the entire electronics industry, plus academia, as well as government and industry agencies as to the importance of, and relevant applications for, all types of power sources and conversion devices.

By joining with other leaders in the Industry, you and your company will have a greater voice and influence on the directions of the Power Sources Industry. Some specific benefits of membership include:

  • Networking: The opportunity to meet and interact with counterparts in other companies on an ongoing basis
  • Involvement: The opportunity to be involved with the planning and managing of APEC—the Applied Power Electronics Conference-- sessions that focus on the specific interest of members
  • Participation: The opportunity to participate in committees, workgroups and studies to derive a better understanding of market trends, industry trends and better operational procedures to improve performance
  • Discounts: Individuals from PSMA member companies receive discounts on registration fees for attending APEC
  • Industry Trends: Increase awareness and knowledge of trends and factors that can impact your career and provide valuable inputs for product planning
  • Company Profile: All member company profiles are listed on the PSMA Web Site together with a hyperlink directly to the company Web Site
  • PSMA Publications: Regular and Associate member companies receive a copy of all new PSMA publications and reports with discounts for additional copies. Affiliate member companies can purchase PSMA publications at a discount
  • Employment Resources: Post job openings on the PSMA website and browse student resumes
  • Benchmarking: The opportunity to participate in benchmarking studies with other companies in your industry
  • PSMA Newsletter: Receive “Update” the quarterly newsletter of the PSMA, with informative articles on activities in the industry and a calendar of upcoming industry events
  • Spotlight Banner: Your company’s products can be featured as a banner on the PSMA Home Page

PSMA membership dues are modest in comparison to the benefits offered. Is your company a member of PSMA? If not, why not? You can find the membership application on the PSMA web site at http://www.psma.com/webforms/psma-membership-application.

We look forward to receiving your application in the near future so you can take advantage of the registration discount at APEC. The 2015 Power Technology Roadmap will be available in mid March and all Regular and Associate members of PSMA will receive a free copy of the report as a benefit of membership. Affiliate members will receive a discount on the Roadmap and other PSMA reports.


Get More From Your PSMA Membership – Join A Committee
Posted: 2011-8-28


PSMA membership provides many benefits for you and your company. It gives you personally the opportunity to meet, network and interact with your counterparts in other companies on an ongoing basis. It also provides an opportunity to be involved with the planning and managing of APEC, as well as giving you and your colleagues a discount on registration fees for attending APEC.


Your company gets a listing on the PSMA web site with a hyperlink directly to your company web site. In addition, your company has an invitation to provide a Spotlight Banner to showcase its latest product on the PSMA Home Page

Your company also receives free or discounted copies of PSMA publications and reports,

An important membership benefit is the opportunity to join and participate in one or more of the PSMA Technical Committees. Participating in one or more committees is the best way to increase the benefits from your company and your personal PSMA membership. People involved in PSMA Technical Committees all agree that their investment returns multiple benefits that surpass the time spent participating – both for their company and for their own careers. Just ask someone who is a committee member. The committee provides the opportunity to network with knowledgeable people who are influencing the power sources industry.

You are encouraged to join a committee and get involved in their activities. Most committees meet about once a month for about one hour by teleconference. You are welcome to attend a committee meeting before making a decision to join the group. If you are interested in attending one of the meetings, please contact the Association Office for call-in information.


This is an open invitation to participate in or join any committee. Bring your experience, interest and enthusiasm. Currently PSMA has the following committees:

  • Alternative Energy
  • Capacitors
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Energy Harvesting
  • Industry-Education
  • Magnetics
  • Membership
  • Marketing
  • Nanotechnology
  • Power Electronics Packaging
  •  Semiconductors
  • Technology Roadmap

Your participation will contribute added value to the subject and enhance your own knowledge.

It’s a great way to network with your colleagues.

For more information describing the committees and the dates for the next meetings, please view the PSMA web site or contact the PSMA office at power@psma.com.



Power Electronics Timeline DRAFT
Posted: 2011-6-29

The Power Sources Manufacturers Association has drafted a power electronics timeline and a "corporate" genealogy chart for the industry to review. As we get inputs, we will be updating these files on a periodic basis. Consequently these files are subject to change until we hear from all affected parties or until enough time has transpired at which time the files will be finalized.

If you have any inputs to share, please contact ada@adaclock.com or the PSMA office.

PSMA Provides On-Line Energy Efficiency Standards Database
Posted: 2010-5-1

The Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA) has announced availability of its On-line Energy Efficiency Database (EEDB) as a service to the industry. The number of energy efficiency standards and the world wide agencies that generate them continue to grow daily. It is time consuming for an individual or company to keep track of the many actions and activities by government and industry groups. The PSMA on-line energy efficiency standards database provides one click access to the very latest global standards and initiatives.

Some of the useful features:

  • Quick access to world region, agency, or standards application
  • Expanded data includes list of specific standards generated by an agency and parametric specifications for each regulation
  • Expanded description of regulations and agencies
  • Enhanced descriptions that include html code for quick linking to agency site or database location
  • Latest schedule of standards meetings

Dusty Becker, PSMA Board Chairman and chair of the PSMA Energy Efficiency Committee, states that The PSMA On-line Energy Efficiency Data Base which incorporates a number of improvements suggested by product planners to keep current is a valuable resource for engineers. We are pleased to offer this resource free of charge to our membership and to the industry. 

PSMA Presentation
Posted: 2008-4-3

The PSMA Marketing Committee has prepared this presentation describing PSMA. You can use this presentation to inform your colleagues about the benefits of PSMA membership. You can also show this presentation at meetings you are attending on behalf of PSMA.

Handbook of Standardized Terminology now available on "Members Only"
Posted: 2008-1-4

The Handbook of Standardized Terminology For The Power Sources Industry-Third Edition - has been made available as a download on the Members Only area of the PSMA website. Revised and expanded, this unique publication includes definitions for more than 1200 terms related to power electronics which were especially selected for the power electronics professional. The Third Edition also contains illustrations and four new appendices, including a listing of EMI specifications, excerpts from international standards of units and symbols, along with guides for authors of technical papers. Many new magnetic terms are described in this new 126-page third edition that are of particular interest to the practicing designer and marketer of power supplies and related products. Valuable information regarding worldwide power sources, standards agencies, and military specifications has been retained, updated and expanded from the previous edition. Titles of the appendices are: Testing and Standards Agencies; Designer's Reference; World Voltages and Frequencies; Military Specifications; EMI Specifications; Writing Technical Papers for Archival Publications; Units, Symbols and Style Guide; A Brief Writing Guide. These added resources provide concise, easy-to-use references for engineeers involved in technical writing and presentations. If your company is a member of PSMA, you may register for the "Members Only" area using your email address. The registration form requires you to enter your company PSMA member number. You may contact the Association Office if you do not know the member number.

Getting More From Your PSMA Membership
Posted: 2005-9-27
A letter to the Membership from Chuck Mullett, PSMA Chairman March 18, 2003

In a recent monthly teleconference of our Membership Committee we had a lively discussion about how we are serving our membership, what projects we are doing, and how we might communicate better with you, our member companies. Realizing that communication is always a key ingredient, I volunteered to write to you and give you a personal snapshot of what’s going on.

Mission: To integrate the resources of the power sources industry to more effectively and profitably serve the needs of the power sources users, providers and PSMA members.

As it is with many trade organizations, membership can be a spectator sport. The organization appreciates your support in the form of dues, because there’s always overhead that must be paid. But, what good is an organization that simply collects dues, pays the phone bills and mailing costs, and tries to survive until the next wave of dues submittals? Clearly, this would be a waste of time. In organizations like PSMA, the worth of the group is directly and totally a result of the efforts of its members. This is not a new concept. Service organizations around the world have always operated in just this way. Think about Rotary International, comprised of business leaders who volunteer their time in an environment of fellowship to help each other succeed in their businesses and help students with scholarships, etc. They take on meaningful projects in their communities, help their communities, and have fun doing it. It is possible to maintain membership in Rotary by simply paying dues and attending meetings. But---it is clear that those who get the most out of their membership are the ones who get involved in the projects. They get to know the other members, gaining friendships and insight into their own businesses. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, they have a lot of fun. When people ask us about PSMA, we usually recite a couple of sentences about the organization, its membership and mission, and then we’re bragging joyfully about the projects recently completed and the ones in process. For me, personally, the projects are exciting, as they give me valuable insight It has become a tradition over the past few years to make use of the Saturday preceding APEC (usually in late February or early March) to hold a major workshop, taking advantage of the presence of the leaders of the power electronics industry. Two years ago Lou Pechi culminated the work of his Low Voltage Workshop team in an all-day meeting that resulted in the book that’s probably on you bookshelf. Leaders from several end users and power supply manufacturing companies spent countless hours preparing papers and presentations, and then more volunteers transcribed the workshop and edited the final report. If you’re involved in the move toward lower voltage power delivery, I hope you’ve had a chance to use it. Last year that pre-APEC Saturday was spent in PSMA’s Integration Workshop, organized by Arnold Alderman. We hope this project saved many of our member companies tens of thousands of dollars trying to figure out how to advance their power supply technology by the use of semi-custom or fully-custom ICs. The question, “Should I go into the silicon design business, joint venture with a semiconductor manufacturer or simply wait for the next wave of ICs” can be difficult to answer. Your Association decided that tackling this question rigorously and publishing the answers would be of considerable value to the membership. We enlisted the help of our colleagues in Ireland, PEI Technologies, after a bidding process involving several candidate organizations. Both volumes of this report have been sent to PSMA Regular and Associate member companies as a benefit of membership. This study cost under $35,000, because of the hundreds of volunteer hours spent by several PSMA members. Prior to this, we had spent well over a year and around $40,000 on the Status of Power Electronics Packaging (StatPEP) project, also using the crew in Ireland to analyze ten dc-dc converters and ten 500-watt ac-dc power supplies. They dissected these units after a battery of electrical measurements, took countless photos and x-rays, and reported the findings in the now-famous “StatPEP Report” that we hope is in your possession and has been of benefit to your company. Again, hundreds of hours were spent by PSMA volunteers overseeing the PEI work, writing papers, presenting them at the workshop and also presenting a half-day summary seminar at APEC 2000. We have now held the fourth Power Technology Roadmap Workshop, which took place on the Saturday preceding APEC 2003 in February. Don Staffiere started this triennial study in 1994 and faithfully repeated it in 1997 and 2000. It involves heavy effort of over 20 volunteers, not only from PSMA but also from other companies. The final product will be a comprehensive publication containing trending of all aspects of power electronics technology---design, manufacturing, components technology, marketing, sales and in-depth information from the users about their needs over the next five years. This exercise will be done without any outside contracts, except the printing of the reports. So---what else has PSMA done for me? Well, let me introduce you to the PSMA Web site! It’s hard to believe, but it consistently receives over 16,000 hits per month! If you supplied the requested information, there’s a link to your Web site, and your company name scrolls by continuously on the home page. Please, if you haven’t done so, drop by and give your mouse a little exercise---you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Be sure to look at the quarterly newsletter, UPDATE. The current edition goes on for 18 pages; including many APEC 2003 pictures and scenes of your PSMA team at work (Joe Horzepa has one of those wonderful digital cameras with the cheap film!) What MORE can PSMA do for me? Plenty! We’re strong, eager and capable. Over half of the sales revenue of the power supply manufacturers in the US is represented in PSMA’s membership. Membership from the components community is also very strong, and so is our membership from academia and leading consultants. As one of the three sponsors of APEC, we share in the financial outcome of the conference, and it’s been very positive over the past few years. Our financial net worth is over $70,000. As a non-profit organization, we simply return our revenues from APEC, member dues and publication sales, to our membership as efficiently and effectively as we can. In addition to the present system of value exchange here’s how you can “milk” much more out of your membership. I thought I would make a list, but as the thoughts rolled around in my head, I realized they all comprised a single theme. It’s extremely simple. “Get involved.” I can tell you, and so can my colleagues, that the benefits from being truly active in an organization like PSMA far outstrip all of the many publications that attempt to summarize its activities. There’s much more in store for you than simply hearing what goes on in our committee meetings, workshops and research projects. What happens in these activities is (and I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t happen all the time) almost magical. After many years of sticking my neck out and getting involved in these activities I’ve come to some revelations. As I wrote in my paper for APEC 2000 about “Defining your own excellence,” these volunteer organizations have an unusually high population density of effective people. It’s partly because the volunteer aspect acts as an input filter---everyone had to exercise some initiative to be there in the first place. 1. They had to “show up” (it’s been written that this is 80% of success). 2. They had to say, “I’ll do that,” when the discussion rolled around to figuring out how to organize the project. 3. They had to deliver. The level of performance is extremely high, because the people are “turned on” about what they’re doing. Some valuable friendships are formed while working together on these projects. As many of them involve research about power supply technology, components, reliability, marketing and sales, this work may uncover valuable information that you might otherwise not find. More important than the content of the work, in my opinion, is the interaction with exciting colleagues who are really enjoying their careers. I can’t tell you how many times my life has been enriched by these experiences. One of the reasons I’m taking the time to write this is to share this with you. I hope you’ll accept my invitation to get involved yourself. I hope, even more, that you will pick one or two of your co-workers to get involved with us. Please pick up your phone and call me at my office in California, 805 933-4607, or drop an email to me at chuck.mullett@onsemi.com. We can chat further about how your membership in PSMA can become much more valuable to you and your company. Sincerely, Chuck Mullett Chairman, PSMA

An Engineer's Guide to using Google by Chuck Mullett
Posted: 2005-8-23

Years ago we had to surround ourselves with printed reference material to provide the data on components used in our designs and applications papers to help in their use. Many of these were free, but some others cost over $100 each and became obsolete almost as fast as we obtained them. Today, the picture has changed dramatically. Most of this information is available at no cost through the Internet; the amount of information is so huge that the new challenge is sorting it out. When the semiconductor committee of PSMA began to study the problem of helping engineers find the information needed, the change in the way we do our jobs became blatantly obvious. Even this task has been made easier, because of help from the Internet.

Here is our conclusion: Google is perhaps the most advanced search engine in the world at this time. Surprisingly, it’s not just for lay people who are looking for new recipes or ways to remodel their bedrooms. Its capability to provide us with the sophisticated technical help we need is astounding. It has the capacity to improve its performance, on its own, as it is used. Our job in helping our members and others in the industry has been reduced from one of searching, rating and cataloging materials to one of simply providing a few hints about using Google. We suggest you try it for yourself, get familiar with its capability, and use it the next time you need information. Here are some examples for you to try:

1. Go to Google.com and type in power factor correction. Our result was that 2,190,000 references were retrieved in 0.23 seconds. Now, type in “power factor correction” and see the difference. We got 155,000 references in about the same amount of time. What is even more amazing is that the references were valid! Even in the first case---we looked through the first 120 on the list, and didn’t find even one irrelevant citing.

2. Try “mag amp” and retrieve 8,870 references. All were valid until we got down to the 29th one on the list, which referred to a slow-release garden fertilizer. 28 out of 29 is a validity score of 96.6%---not bad for software!!!

In Example 1 we saw the difference of enclosing the phrase in quotation marks. Doing so causes the search engine to look for precisely that phrase. Without this, the search engine will find hits on each of the words individually, inviting irrelevant references.

To the right of the search window on the home page you will find “Advanced Search.” Clicking on it will produce a page full of easy-to-use tricks to improve the search, including “Advanced Search Tips” on the top line of the page. This gives even more useful information to produce more effective results. Google is so easy that if you’ll spend only 5 minutes with it, you’ll be producing better results than you can find in a world-class library, without leaving your desk. Try it first, then try other search engines. We did this, and found a plethora of irrelevant “hits.” We invite your comments.

Power Supplies - Make vs Buy
Posted: 2003-1-24

A discussion of criteria to consider when deciding whether you should make or buy power supplies when creating equipment.

Power Supplies - Make vs Buy



Technical Writing Guides
Posted: 2003-1-24

The following documents are provided to assist you in your technical writing. Please note that if you would like a hard copy of the Units, Symbols & Styles Guide in a handy one-page format, you may purchase copies in the Publications Section.

Units, Symbols and Style Guide

A Brief Writing Guide

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