IN­DUS­TRY IN­SIDER: CEN­TURY BAT­TER­IES

AUS­TRALIA’S ONLY LO­CALLY MADE VE­HI­CLE BAT­TER­IES JUST GOT BET­TER.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

WHEN was the last time you checked the fluid level in your 4x4’s bat­tery or bat­ter­ies? Not re­cently, I’m sure. Do your bat­ter­ies even need the elec­trolyte level checked? Most modern bat­ter­ies are sealed lead-acid, AGM, Li-ion, or other high-tech con­struc­tion that doesn’t re­quire any reg­u­lar main­te­nance.

In­ter­est­ingly, Aus­tralia’s only man­u­fac­turer of au­to­mo­tive bat­ter­ies, Cen­tury Bat­ter­ies, has just made the switch to main­te­nance-free con­struc­tion at its Brisbane man­u­fac­tur­ing plant. Why should this be of in­ter­est if main­te­nance­free is noth­ing new to the mar­ket? Well, as Aus­tralia’s sole man­u­fac­turer of bat­ter­ies, Cen­tury is the only com­pany that makes bat­ter­ies for Aus­tralian con­di­tions, and for Cen­tury Yuasa Bat­ter­ies (CYB), that re­quires lead-acid bat­ter­ies.

Take a Land Cruiser 70 Se­ries as an ex­am­ple – it’s the favourite heavy-duty work­horse Aus­tralia-wide. That means that a 79 Se­ries ute op­er­at­ing at low speeds in 45°C am­bi­ent con­di­tions in a Kim­ber­ley mine needs a re­li­able 12-volt sup­ply, just as much as a 78 Troop Car­rier serv­ing as an am­bu­lance in the south­ern ski-fields at -10°C has to start first time, ev­ery time when re­spond­ing to an emer­gency. That’s a mas­sive vari­a­tion in con­di­tions and your tour­ing 4x4 is a ve­hi­cle that, if you’re lucky, will ex­pe­ri­ence both ends of the spec­trum.

The Sealed Main­te­nance Free (SMF) bat­ter­ies in­clude Cen­tury’s High Per­for­mance, Ul­tra-high Per­for­mance and Over­lan­der 4x4 lead-acid bat­ter­ies. Clever de­sign el­e­ments in­clude a unique ‘labyrinth’ bat­tery top, added elec­trolyte ca­pac­ity and im­proved plate con­struc­tion. All this cre­ates a longer-last­ing, bet­ter­per­form­ing bat­tery ide­ally suited for harsh Aus­tralian con­di­tions.

The Cen­tury Over­lan­der 4x4 bat­tery has been tested at 75°C, which is hot­ter than the bat­tery stan­dard of 40°C and more in­dica­tive of the un­der-bon­net tem­per­a­tures ex­pe­ri­enced here. The new bat­ter­ies have also been found to pro­vide su­pe­rior crank­ing am­per­age (CCA) than equiv­a­lent-size old de­sign units.

“Our new (SMF) bat­ter­ies in­cor­po­rate de­sign en­hance­ments and in­ter­nal im­prove­ments to max­imise per­for­mance, im­prove over­all bat­tery life and, in the ma­jor­ity of cases, de­liver im­proved per­for­mance rat­ings,” Cen­tury’s train­ing and de­vel­op­ment man­ager Johnny Kennedy said.

Bat­ter­ies in 4x4 ve­hi­cles cope with a lot more than ex­treme tem­per­a­ture vari­a­tions and a lack of main­te­nance. The roads they travel over can be in­cred­i­bly pun­ish­ing with bone-shak­ing cor­ru­ga­tions, mas­sive un­der-bon­net tem­per­a­tures and reg­u­lar dis­charg­ing cy­cles as they are called on to power a range of 12-volt ac­ces­sories com­monly used by four-wheel driv­ers. While most of us use a dual bat­tery sys­tem em­ploy­ing a start­ing bat­tery and a deep­cy­cle bat­tery for ac­ces­sories in our 4x4s, CYB has taken its Over­lan­der 4x4 bat­tery to the next level with hy­brid tech­nol­ogy.

The new dual-pur­pose Over­lan­der 4x4 bat­tery uses cal­cium and an­tin­omy plates

to pro­duce both re­li­able start­ing power and semi-cy­cling ca­pa­bil­i­ties re­quired for high ac­ces­sory us­age. This al­lows the bat­tery to han­dle the dis­charge from ad­di­tional ac­ces­sories with­out dam­ag­ing the in­ter­nal com­po­nents and harm­ing the over­all life of the bat­tery.

The plates them­selves are thicker full­frame cast plates for im­proved strength and dura­bil­ity and use Cen­tury’s ex­clu­sive Plate­lock Tech­nol­ogy, an ad­he­sive that binds the bat­tery plates se­curely to­gether to pro­vide su­pe­rior vi­bra­tion and im­pact re­sis­tance. Just the stuff you need in your rough-and-tum­ble 4x4.

CYB makes its bat­tery plates in-house at its Brisbane fac­tory – 360,000 plates a day, or al­most two mil­lion per week, us­ing 55 tonnes of lead per week. That’s enough to make more than 1.5 mil­lion Aussie-made bat­ter­ies per year.

The com­pany has been mak­ing bat­ter­ies in Aus­tralia for 88 years and has in­vested more than $3 mil­lion into up­grad­ing the fac­tory to man­u­fac­ture the new SMF bat­ter­ies.

“Cen­tury has a long his­tory of man­u­fac­tur­ing in Aus­tralia, start­ing in New South Wales 88 years ago,” Cen­tury’s Aus­tralasian au­to­mo­tive gen­eral man­ager Stu Stan­ners said. “While a Re­serve Bank study sug­gests the fu­ture for Aus­tralian man­u­fac­tur­ing lies in con­duct­ing re­search, de­vel­op­ment and de­sign at home while do­ing pro­duc­tion off­shore, we have in­vested mil­lions of dol­lars to en­sure we con­tinue to be op­er­a­tional in Aus­tralia for years to come. Not to men­tion this is a damn good bat­tery.”

While CYB im­ports some bat­ter­ies for spe­cial­ist ap­pli­ca­tions such as mo­tor­cy­cles and AGM bat­ter­ies, its core prod­ucts are its Aus­tralian-made units. Yet it sees fur­ther changes ahead as ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy evolves. Many ve­hi­cles are em­ploy­ing idle stop-start sys­tems to re­duce fuel con­sump­tion and emis­sions, and these re­quire spe­cial heavy duty bat­ter­ies not yet made here. Then there are the hy­brid and full-elec­tric ve­hi­cles that are also in­creas­ing in num­bers, which again have spe­cific needs.

Fur­ther in­vest­ment will be re­quired in the near fu­ture to pro­duce these prod­ucts lo­cally and re­tain Cen­tury’s 600-strong work­force in Aus­tralia. Im­proved prod­ucts and a vi­sion of what lies ahead point to a strong fu­ture for Cen­tury Bat­ter­ies and its Aus­tralian work­ers, so think of that the next time you go to buy a bat­tery for your 4x4. CYB has a range of Aus­tralian-made bat­ter­ies to suit most pop­u­lar 4x4 ve­hi­cles.

For more de­tails and to view the full range of bat­ter­ies avail­able, go to the com­pany web­site.

Cen­tury has been in busi­ness for 88 years, now em­ploy­ing 600 staff.

The in­tro­duc­tion of SMF bat­ter­ies re­quired sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in the Queens­land plant. Hy­brids and EVS will change the pro­duc­tion process fur­ther.

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