New cordless product development brings together a great deal of new knowledge with experience from other areas. In our background report, we show you the path from idea to finished STIHL product.
Developments in the field of electronic components continue to advance at pace. In line with this, STIHL is also offering more and more options for customers in terms of mobile end devices. At the same time, there has also been a sharp increase in demand for battery packs which are lightweight, compact and rechargeable. It is by offering exactly these qualities – combined with high energy density and the highest possible output – that STIHL has in recent years established itself in the cordless power tools and battery packs segment. Sony launched the first high-current cell on the market in 2007. This also laid the foundation for STIHL’s commitment to the cordless segment. Since then, STIHL has been leading the development of battery packs in collaboration with selected suppliers – always with a focus on maximum performance, and meeting STIHL quality standards and our users’ needs. Being able to offer this as a real alternative to gasoline-driven power tools was and is STIHL’s declared goal.
STIHL relies on its strong development team to meet these requirements. This team brings together expert knowledge in lithium-ion cells, electronic, software and functional development, as well as construction and subsequent production of the new products. From the lithium-ion cell and electronics for monitoring the battery pack to the contact interface and plastic parts, all components of the battery pack can be specifically tuned and developed by STIHL.
The core component of new cordless products is the lithium-ion cell. Because it has such an important role to play, STIHL is involved throughout the entire process. This starts with intensive dialog with suppliers, on matters from the design of the cell chemistries used to the electrode materials and precise cell structure. At an early stage, the cells are subjected to a program of intensive testing in an internal test field aligned to in-house standards. This means that the cells must prove themselves in terms of safety, performance and function. The test methods used enable experts to assess the suitability of lithium-ion cells for STIHL products and to initiate optimizations with suppliers.
During product development, our specialist departments work hand-in-hand to implement new functions in the best possible way. In addition, we set requirements and standards for suppliers and supervise the entire industrialization process in a leading role. Our high level of vertical integration enables STIHL to work on a partnership basis with a wide range of production sites and suppliers, thereby ensuring STIHL quality. Prototypes are created and put through their paces in every development phase. This means that the functionality and performance of the battery pack is clear and comprehensible for everyone at all times. The analyses and tests cover many areas and range from the quality of the cell’s weld connections to the mechanical robustness of the housing materials used. STIHL works standards guarantee that new developments match the existing cordless product range; this is further reviewed by means of our own test standards – with the aid of a fully automatic robot, for example. Close coordination and continuous monitoring with all relevant departments throughout the development of a battery pack are the ultimate guarantee for the introduction of new products and further STIHL innovations.
The market launch of STIHL cordless products is a story of success; a story which is continued and intensified by innovations from within the company, but also by new expert knowledge from outside. This is the formula that has made it possible for STIHL to attain technological leadership in the field of cordless power packs for garden tools. The most recent example to emerge from this development process is the STIHL AP 500 S. This is currently the most powerful battery pack in the competitive environment, though we are still a long way from reaching the end of that path – further pioneering innovations are in the works. Application-specific performance boost, fast charging and optimized operation in cold temperatures are some of the new features that will ensure battery power is even more of a focus topic for STIHL customers in future.