Smart power

Name: Samy Karuppana, vp-engineering/manufacturing/quality, Intra Technologies, Tukwila, WA. Karuppana is responsible for engineering, manufacturing and quality. Background: Previously served as director of engineering for Prestolite Leece-Neville. Karuppana holds an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from State University of New York at Buffalo and an M.B.A from Gannon University, Erie, PA. A Registered

Name: Samy Karuppana, vp-engineering/manufacturing/quality, Intra Technologies, Tukwila, WA. Karuppana is responsible for engineering, manufacturing and quality.

Background: Previously served as director of engineering for Prestolite Leece-Neville. Karuppana holds an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from State University of New York at Buffalo and an M.B.A from Gannon University, Erie, PA. A Registered Professional Engineer, he is an active member of SAE and TMC. Karuppana is also a co-inventor who has seven issued and pending patents related to DC power management to his credit.

Intra Technologies is a company dedicated to the application of our Power MOSFET technology to intelligent DC power management,” says Samy Karuppana. “MOSFETs have been around for a while-they're one of the most commonly used semi-conductor devices. What is new and exciting is how Intra is harnessing the best of what MOSFET technology has to offer to manage high currents.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” he continues. “Intra wanted to design an intelligent automotive battery, where the intelligent feature would be embedded in the battery. To do so it was necessary to come up with a new switch that would be compact, lightweight, reliable, durable and more economical to manufacture. This led to the invention of the Intra Power MOSFET. We recognized this device would make an ideal platform for the high-current power management technology required by the heavy-duty trucking industry.”

Karuppana points out that Intra produces both products for the aftermarket and others for adoption by truck OEMs. Aftermarket offerings include their intelligent low-voltage disconnects, a jump-start prevention switch for dormant trucks, roll-over battery disconnect switches, headlamp life extenders and charge-system Failure Alarms. The OEM product line is focused on complete Intelligent Power Management Systems. These may include battery disconnects, starter protection, optimized charging, prioritized load disconnects, charging system failure detection, electrical system failure prediction and diagnostics with Local Area Network communication capabilities.

“The resistance of an Intra switch that can handle all the loads of a modern Class 8 truck with sleeper and starting load is less than 0.2 milliohm,” Karuppana states. “Our switch feels cool like a cucumber to the touch-even after cranking a 16-liter diesel engine.”

But, according to Karuppana, the biggest challenge in truck power management has been to make MOSFET-based intelligent switches rugged, reliable and long lasting while keeping the cost close to conventional electro-mechanical switches.

“It's Intra's goal to control all electrical switching in a much more intelligent way using MOSFET technology and microcomputers,” Karuppana says. “We want to eliminate all problems associated with switches, including arcing, welding, and deterioration of contact surface quality.

“In our view, all switches will become virtual fuses that can be programmed to the ideal protection level needed for a particular circuit,” he continues. “We will be able to prevent jump-starts using intelligent algorithms that know accurately the state of health and state of charge of the battery pack. Intelligent switches will also be able to monitor the unique signatures of electrical component, such as a starter. They will be able to send early warnings of impending failure via satellite and provide useful hints for diagnosing a failure.”

Karuppana also says Intra is keeping an eye on the development of 42v electrical systems for heavy trucks. “Intra's MOSFET technology is a shoo-in for use on forthcoming 42v systems,” he states. “The nature of the current Intra 12/24V MOSFET design is such that it can be seamlessly converted to use with a 42V system. We expect the ever-increasing trend for more electrical power in trucks will continue.”

Karuppana predicts trucks will soon rely more and more on electronics, especially for power management. “In the future,” he points out, “more power and more reliable power will be required. That will especially be the case once the industry moves to brakes and steering that are controlled 100% by computer signaling.

“At Intra,” Karuppana sums up, “we want to make a good living by helping our customers eliminate jump-starts, extend the life of batteries and other electrical components, and save money by replacing breakdowns on the road with planned maintenance. We want to be a major contributor in driving down the cost associated with electrical systems. And our technology can help further improve the safety of trucking on the road by reducing the potential for onboard electrical fires.”

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