Leading Clients through Lithium-ion Electrification Transitions to Success
Inventus Power of Woodridge, Illinois specializes in designing and manufacturing advanced battery and power solutions, from lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery packs to smart charging systems, power adapters and more. The company has focused on Li-ion battery technology since the 1990s, when the lithium battery was first commercialized, and now more than 30 years later, Li-ion dominates the battery market and is the preferred chemistry for powering a variety of portable, motive and stationary applications.
Thanks to adopting lithium-ion at an early stage, Inventus Power has a wealth of experience with the technology compared to some competitors in the battery space that are either only just getting into lithium-ion or are expanding to it from legacy technologies.
Inventus Power has roots dating back to as far as 1960, but its current name and identity came to be in 2015, after the two largest battery pack manufacturers in North America at the time—Palladium Energy and ICCNexergy—united to form one large manufacturer. Along the way, the company acquired engineering and technology experts to bolster its already considerable power solutions.
Company President and Chief Executive Officer, Pat Trippel, feels the company is unique among others in the power solutions industry as it has diverse end markets and extensive experience across a wide range of applications.
Inventus Power has considerable market presence in medical, military, and commercial / industrial segments and is increasing its capabilities to support more burgeoning industries like light electric vehicles (LEV) and EV-adjacent fields. The company has applied its patented technology and products to a variety of applications. Trippel cites battery-dependent products like golf carts, utility vehicles, commercial cleaning equipment, aerial work platforms and other material handling equipment as just a few examples of this.
The company has developed a very flexible battery management system which can be customized to the end customer’s need, across a variety of sectors. By taking a ‘standard’ product and integrating it seamlessly into a customer’s application, Inventus Power makes lithium-ion technology less challenging and more accessible, attracting and keeping customers.
Lithium-ion can be a tough adjustment for customers transitioning from lead-acid batteries or internal combustion, so Inventus Power works on the transition from a design and engineering development standpoint to customize software and integrate into specific applications, and it provides field application support.
The company was one of countless operators and businesses that continued production through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, instead of buckling under pressure, it accelerated, as it is a critical supplier to the medical industry—Inventus Power is one of the primary suppliers for ventilator batteries in North America. This meant that the company worked around-the-clock in its North American operations in 2020 while, fortunately, incurring no shutdowns.
Trippel remarks that the business has grown considerably year-on-year in top-line and profitability over the past few years. As the largest U.S. manufacturer of medical battery packs supporting a global customer base, the company found that 2020 was one of its busiest years. He notes that a large business increase has also occurred in the light electric vehicle (LEV) and EV-adjacent markets with accelerated growth ongoing.
“We’ve developed products with our [intellectual property] that are unique and are gaining market-wide acceptance,” Trippel says. Inventus Power was also recently awarded a $1.25 billion contract from the United States Army for its conformal wearable battery, a patented product produced specifically for military usage.
As it is chiefly involved in the battery and power market, sustainability is a value that Inventus Power holds close to its practices. “We are at the forefront of the greening of the world,” Trippel explains of the company’s vision on sustainability. “We’re electrifying many applications around the world [and] we’re making sustainability work.”
The company’s work with light electric vehicles is one aspect of this philosophy that is often focused on and Trippel believes that there are so many applications that can benefit from electrification. These could be anything with an internal combustion engine (ICE), where the benefits of transitioning to Li-ion battery technology have an environmental impact. Inventus Power helped to electrify the first commercial zero-turn radius lawn mower from ICE to Li-ion battery power for a large outdoor power equipment provider, helping to reduce noise and eliminate harmful CO2 emissions.
The company has recently embarked on a new branding campaign, featuring the slogan, ‘Electrified by Inventus Power.’ The initiative began its rollout in late 2021 with Columbia Vehicle, maker of electric-powered utility vehicles, being the first customer to be part of a joint marketing release. The announcement concerned Columbia’s Utilitruck, its first lithium-powered utility vehicle.
Previously, Inventus Power has offered custom solutions for specific needs, often in cooperation with some of the world’s biggest brands; however, this meant that Inventus Power itself was not as well-known outside of its customer base. Now, the company has branded products going out to the market to display and has begun to assert its own identity.
It will be working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to help them electrify their products and processes, with the new campaign showcasing the success stories of both OEMs and after-market customers. After a history as developer and manufacturer, Inventus Power is now getting its intellectual property and identity out into the world. “We are the system underneath that greener and more sustainable drive,” Trippel states.
Trippel sees the battery industry right now as very interesting but also rather challenging, especially with ongoing difficulties of various intensities within the supply chain. As Inventus Power uses the same or similar components as other electric-based companies, the company has experienced effects from these supply chain troubles, but it has also been able to increase its strength due to the efforts of its supply chain team, plus its worldwide operations and not being shutdown at critical times for customers.
The company boasts manufacturing capabilities around the world that have enabled it to help its customers, even in difficult circumstances. Trippel identifies Inventus Power as the largest and most global battery company in America. A big goal within the industry, and for Inventus Power itself, is to further regionalize the company’s supply chain.
Work has already gone into that process for some time now, as the company has made significant investments in its U.S. and Mexico supply chains, and it will be both working with its suppliers to localize production on a bigger scale and investing in its supply base across the North American market.
Looking ahead to the second half of 2022 and beyond, the company will continue to significantly build its development capabilities, as it has effectively doubled the size of its R&D department in the last two years. Further investment will be made in product development and field engineering, expanding manufacturing capabilities with automation and advanced technology, and a strong focus in the North American market and the company’s capabilities within the region.
There are a lot of exciting and diverse opportunities for Inventus Power to make itself more of a household name in Li-ion batteries, and it has all the advantages it needs to make a go at becoming one of the foremost names in battery and power.