Man holding ready brazed and fitted contact sockets.

Charging ahead

Two companies that have enjoyed many years of cooperation in another field, now find that their interests merge in electric vehicles. EFD Induction and Norwegian electronics producer Norautron AS are providing different products and services but are both working for zero-emission driving.

“The electronics cards from Norautron are vital components in our frequency converters, and we have been very pleased with their products for decades”, says Sales Manager Gunnar Johnsen at EFD Induction. As is not unusual in this age of quarantines, he joins us on our visit to Norautron via Teams on the telephone, enjoying the privilege of being carried around the premises from the comfort of his home office chair.

Checking components are in line before brazing.

ON AND IN LINE: Asgeir Bjørkedal chats with Bente Amandussen whilst Gunnar Johnsen joins the conversation on the phone. Marzena Marciniak makes sure all the connector pins are lined up before brazing.

 

“I’ll actually go as far as saying our electronics cards are the hearts of your machines”, smiles Process Engineer Torgrim Nordhus at Norautron, guiding us around workstations where miniscule components are being meticulously put in place by white clad operators peering through microscopes. Every single card is then thoroughly tested before it begins its working life inside an EFD Induction frequency converter.

 

Assembling electronics cards

PRECISION: The electronics cards destined for EFD Induction are put together by a steady pair of hands.

 

Now, this longstanding supplier has turned customer. In 2019, Norautron began producing electric car chargers for Easee – a Norwegian company with the idea of creating the world’s smartest electric vehicle charger. From a tentative start, making a handful of chargers a week, Norautron are now churning them out by the thousands. They expect to produce around 600.000 in 2022, which is double last year’s production.

In order to meet this enormous step-up of volumes, Norautron has had a strong focus on automation and robotization of the production process, and this is where EFD Induction entered the picture. One part of the production involves brazing the socket contacts to connector pins – a job perfectly suited to induction heating.

“We are dependent on swift localised heat”, explains Automation Engineer, Asgeir Bjørkedal. “If the heat spreads too far down the socket it goes wrong.”

“Obviously, we were never in doubt about who to call when we decided to invest in induction equipment”, smiles Operation Manager Glenn Tarraldsen. “This wasn’t an off-the-shelf item and we required someone who could advise us. There was a lot of thinking outside the box.”

EFD Induction was only too happy to oblige. Not just because Norautron was a trusted business partner, but because e-mobility is one of our focus areas of business, fitting in well with our commitment to a sustainable future.

So, Torgrim and Asgeir set out to visit EFD Induction’s lab where our specialist Karl Biørn helped conduct tests and trials. Together they came up with a coil solution that got the job done efficiently.

Two Sinac in use at Norautron.

ALL CHARGED UP: Torgrim Nordhus (left) and Asgeir Bjørkedal at Norautron AS are pleased with the performance of their EFD Induction Sinacs.

 

Norautron installed their first Sinac Twin generator in March of last year and then a second one went into operation in August. Both are now working double shifts.

On our tour of the production plant, we reach the brazing stations strategically placed in a corner next to a room with huge pipes leading away the excess heat. The hot air does not go to waste but is being used to heat other parts of the building.

 

SInac Twin does double duty.

DOUBLE DUTY: The Twin Sinacs are fitted with two coils each, so that one machine does twice the work.

 

Beside each Sinac, twenty sockets and connector pins are being placed into a jig, carefully positioned ready for brazing. The actual heating process only takes a few seconds on each, just enough time to set up the next row.

The Sinacs are working to perfection.

“Well, they would, wouldn’t they? They’ve got the best electronics cards on the market”, we’re told by the engineers. “They are very easy to work with. Changing the process parameters is no problem at all.”

“Have you found any deviations of any sort?” Gunnar wants to know.

“No, not on anything we have produced”, Torgrim says. “Repeatability is super important to us, and we haven’t registered a single deviation.”

 

Contact socket ready fitted.

READY FITTED: The socket contacts are fitted together and ready to be connected to the rest of the charger.

 

The Sinacs are now brazing thousands of socket contacts every day.

“1,3 million all in all last time I checked”, Asgeir says, before quickly correcting himself. “No, it seems we’re actually up to more than a million and a half of them by now”, he points out, explaining there are seven of them in each charger built with a three-phase socket that is considered to be the standard model in Europe.

 

Easee charger

LOOKING GOOD: The neat design of the wall unit hides the electronics inside.

 

When it comes to nationwide adoption of electric vehicles, Norway is leading the world. The ‘polluter pays’ principle is deterring drivers from buying high emission cars that are given hefty taxes. Thanks to substantial and comprehensive incentives – such as exemptions from all vehicle import duties and taxes, including the 25% VAT on purchase – the price of electric cars is competitive with equivalent petrol or diesel models. Predictably, Norwegians now see electric cars not as a radical alternative, but as the sustainable and economically sound way to drive. Buying an EV is good for your eco-consciousness as well as your wallet.

In 2021, almost 80% of all new car sales were electric vehicles, and one month into the new year the trend is rising even higher. So far in 2022, a record 94 percent of private buyers have chosen an EV as their new car. It seems Norway is well prepared for 2025 when it will become the first country in the world to completely ban the sale of new internal combustion engine cars. When the rest of Europe follows suit in a few years’ time, the export market for EV chargers will likely increase dramatically.

“It will of course depend on car sales”, Glenn says, “but yes, we certainly see the potential for a much larger production as exports are taking off.”

“Are you sure you’re alright with only two Sinacs then?” Gunnar chimes in from the telephone. “We can deliver another one fairly quickly, you know.”

“Well”, Glenn laughs, “we’ll have to see about that. At this stage we are pleased with the situation as it is”, he says. “It is simply fantastic that we have been given the chance to do this. To experiment, automize and increase volume like this – it’s a golden opportunity!”

 

Long life coils brazing

LONG LIFE COILS: At Norautron, each of the four coils have brazed almost 400,000 connections and are still going strong.

 

Facts: EV charging in Norway

Range anxiety is not uncommon in a country that is 2316 kilometres long by road. The Norwegian government has already established fast-charging stations every 50 kilometres on all main roads and is continually working to extend the network. There are currently around 16,000 charging points in Norway, which represents almost 10% of the total charging stations in Europe – quite impressive when you consider that Norway makes up less than one percent of the total population. Norway’s greenhouse gas emissions are now on track to reach the low levels of the early 1990s.