The race continues to build more advanced vehicles, whether it’s wireless functions in connected cars or automated driver assistance systems or fully autonomous vehicles. It seems as if every company in the transportation sector has an “e-mobility” vision to improve fuel efficiency and emissions, and meet market demands for lower costs. Advances are being made in electric powertrain technologies, in-vehicle information systems, communication technologies, and connected infrastructures for electric propulsion of vehicles and fleets.
Powertrain technologies include full electric vehicles. plug-in hybrids, even hydrogen fuel cell-based vehicles. According to Peter Loetzner, CEO of equipment manufacturer EMAG LLC:
Batteries and fuel cell development are progressing at light speed and the electric power source, I believe, will vary by continent. Asia will be heavily leveraged to the all-electric vehicle due to pollution and other concerns, while Europe will maintain an allegiance to the hybrid gas engine, due to the road conditions and established recharging network. In America, hybrids will have more gradual growth, while the share economy of Uber services and the Google car take shape.
Consumer trends show that driving will become more of an “as-needed” function. This will lead to smaller, more precise e-mobility systems with smaller engines, more gears, superchargers, and other high-performance enhancements.
Smart Transportation Grids
Battery-based EV’s (BEVs) show great potential, as long as investments are made in smart transportation grids, intelligent electrical distribution that serves as the charging infrastructure. According to a report by the Joint Research Council, smart grids will be the backbone of the EU’s future energy system. These electricity networks will use intelligent metering and two-way communication to predict and respond to the behavior and actions of connected users.
Dundee, Scotland, has become the first of Britain’s “Go Ultra Low Cities” to start serious work on its EV charging network. New charging hubs are being scattered across town, with rapid and fast chargers in dedicated areas. The chargers can handle two EVs simultaneously, to 80 percent battery life in 30 minutes on the rapid charger and in one hour on the fast charger.
Speed is also an issue for vehicle-to-vehicle communications. 5G cellular tech was first demonstrated by BMW in South Korea.
Two BMWs shared information with the human drivers; in a future, self-driving setup, such sharing of data might allow cars to coordinate actions almost instantaneously. Each car had a 5G station of its own, through which on-board cameras could upload ultrahigh-definition video for displaying to an audience. The cars were from the X5 and the S7 series.
An up-to-date look at new connected car functions and mobility services. Source: CNET]
There are many standards around for EV charging that it’s making development difficult. Initially, the primary EV standard was AC (alternating current), like the power in your home. New charging station offers AC Type 2, which yet another standard.
According to Deutsche Welle, more e-mobility vehicles offer fast charging on DC. CHAdeMO and CCS (Combined Charging System) are both DC standards and the most obvious way to tell them apart is by their adapters or plugs. Wouldn’t one international standard be more sensible than this?
Current AC standards:
- CEE 3 pole
- CEE 5 pole
- CEE+ 7 pole
- Type F
- Type 2
- Type 1
- Tesla Wall Connector
And DC plugs include:
- Type 3
- Tesla Supercharger
Next Gen Electrical Power
Connected cars keep adding components and so need more electrical power. A modern vehicle may have as many as 150 electric motors. According to Technology Review, the good news is that 48-volt systems will appear in cars starting in 2017. The increased voltage lets engineers design cars in novel ways that boost engine output and efficiency. This can be used to make hybrids on the cheap, “mild hybrids”. These combine electric motors and combustion engines to cut fuel consumption and emissions.
According to Technology Review:
Audi’s forthcoming luxury SUV, the SQ7, for example, uses a 48-volt system to power a turbine that forces extra air into the engine to provide a momentary power bump. A prototype Ford Focus uses a similar power supply to provide torque assistance, which helps the car accelerate. These kinds of advances may not have the dramatic emission-reducing power of switching to all-electric motors, or even hybrid systems like those found in the Toyota Prius. But they’re less of a departure from the norm for both manufacturers and consumers, and they could help cut emissions in vehicles that Americans are already buying in huge quantities.
The future of transportation increasingly involves batteries that need to be packaged to absorb internal impact energy. PORON Urethane and BISCO Silicone foams withstand collapse that can happen due to the stresses of compression and temperature in battery packs over time. This Compression Set Resistance (C-set) Resistance can help extend the life of the battery by continuing to seal and absorb shock. These unique foams from Rogers Corporation also have a unique ability to act as a spring by retaining a very consistent level of force across a range of compressions. This allows the designer more flexibility and reliability in packaging of the battery pack due to the ability to predict the cushioning material’s behavior across varied dimensional tolerances.
Selected quotes from our recent earnings call. Read the corporate financials news release: Rogers Corporation Reports Third Quarter 2016 Results
In Q3 2016, Rogers achieved net sales of $165.3 million, exceeding our previously announced guidance. This is an increase of 3.1% over Q3 2015. During the quarter, we experienced continued demand for e-mobility applications as well as positive growth in general industrial, clean energy, and portable electronics. In general, we are pleased with the trends in a number of the markets where Rogers has significant share.
Bruce Hoechner, CEO, on Innovation Leadership
In the area of innovation leadership, we are pleased with the advancements we are making in innovation — in our innovation centers as well as in the operating units where our R&D teams are focused on next-generation solutions. Growing organically and through synergistic M&A remains a key focus for the Company. We have a number of projects underway within our operational excellence initiatives. I was pleased to attend the recent grand opening of the ROLINX Power Distribution Bus Bar Line at our Rogers Hungary Facility.
Bruce Hoechner, CEO, on Megatrends
We believe the longer-term outlook and corresponding growth expectations for our key markets remain positive over the next two to three years. Global requirements are driving demand for applications in Rogers three key megatrend categories of internet connectivity, clean energy, and safety and protection, which consistently account for the majority of our net sales. We remain confident that we are focused on the right global growth markets.
Bruce Hoechner, CEO, on Rogers’ Business Units
Advanced Connectivity Solutions delivered net sales of $65.5 million during Q3 2016, which is a decrease of 1% from Q3 2015. Our Q3 ACS results were driven by demand in applications for high frequency circuit materials used in automotive safety and other high reliability applications. Growth in ACS was more than offset by lower demand in aerospace and defense applications and wireless telecom.
Within wireless telecom, our strong performance in transceiver power amps was significantly offset by weaker demand in our 4G LTE antenna materials, primarily as a result of a delay in the India 4G spectrum auction, which is now complete, design changes by a specific antenna OEM that impacted circuit material usage versus previous designs, and the impact of price considerations offered by Rogers for longer term buy-in stability. We do expect to see improvement in the near term as India starts to deploy more base stations and as Rogers continues to penetrate the global antenna market more broadly.
Elastomeric Material Solutions achieved all-time record quarterly net sales of $54.4 million, an increase of 16.3% from Q3 2015. During the quarter, EMS results were driven by an increase in demand for portable electronics, e-mobility, and general industrial applications, which more than offset lower demand for mass transit and consumer applications. The continued penetration of the back pad solution for portable electronics and government subsidies for e-mobility solutions contributed to EMS’s success during the quarter.
We are pleased with the rebound we have seen in EMS over the past two quarters. Our strategy to drive growth through geographic expansion has been evident as European and Asia regions delivered revenue increases in Q3. We saw particular strength in China where government mandates and consumer demand are driving adoption of e-mobility applications.
EMS’ R&D efforts are helping us expand our portfolio of opportunities. For example, as more smartphone designs transition to OLED displays, we have been working with our customers to develop back pad products specifically designed to meet their more demanding requirements, creating new opportunities for EMS. In Q3, we were pleased with the renewed strength in the portable electronic market.
Power Electronics Solutions net sales were $39.8 million, an increase of 8.8% over Q3 2015. Third quarter results were favorably impacted by increased demand in e-mobility, energy efficient motor drives, certain renewable energy and vehicle electrification applications. These increased were partially offset by much lower demand in rail, energy, and mining applications.
For the PES business, we maintain a positive outlook for the mid and long-term. We saw during Q3, government mandates and climate change agreements are contributing to increased demand for energy efficient motor drives, renewable energy applications, and EV/HEV content.
Q3 2016 Earnings Call Full Transcript:
Q3 2016 Financials Press Release:
Q3 2016 Earnings Call Slides:
Meet Dora Pena. For 12 years, she’s been part of our Advanced Connectivity Solutions group.
“I make laminates for antenna customers that enable billions of smartphone users to connect with each other.”
When anticipating today’s rapidly changing technologies, it is critical to have materials with the performance and reliability to meet ever-increasing reliability standards. Rogers’ Advanced Connectivity Solutions manufactures high frequency laminates and prepregs that are engineered for exact performance requirements.
About our Employees
Throughout our organization, our cultural behaviors describe how our employees work and are judged by our customers, business partners, investors, and each other.
Live Safely: I actively prevent injuries for everyone, everywhere, every day.
Trust: I respect people and trust them to do the right thing.
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Together, we are changing our culture as we help change the world around us. For over 180 years, the employees of Rogers Corporation have focused on our customers, delivering world-class solutions to meet their most demanding materials challenges.
Congratulations to our Advanced Connectivity Solutions team on their 100th ROG Blog post. For six years they have been providing technical advice about PCB design for RF/microwave applications. Here’s to 100 more posts!
Predicting the future is never easy. Similarly, knowing which types of circuit materials will be needed for the next decade’s RF/microwave applications can be difficult to predict, but the past can provide invaluable guidance. With this being the 100th installment in this series, the previous six years of ROG Blogs provide a bit of a map for the high-frequency road ahead and what might be needed in terms of electrical and mechanical characteristics for what are expected to be large-volume applications in this industry, including in radar-based automotive electronics systems, Fifth Generation (5G) wireless communications systems, and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors almost everywhere.
This first six years of the ROG Blog offered guidance on the use of many different types of circuit materials from Rogers Corp., for everything from high-frequency analog circuits to high-speed digital circuits. It explored the effects of circuit material characteristics on the performance of different types of high-frequency transmission lines, including microstrip, stripline, and various types of coplanar waveguide (CPW) transmission lines. And it has examined how the choice of printed-circuit-board (PCB) material impacts the performance of many different types of components, such as low-noise amplifiers, power amplifiers, delay lines, filters, and resonators.
In the next few years, this industry is expected to face new challenges in circuit design, with the high-volume growth of automotive electronics systems, 5G wireless, IoT, even with the steady growth of existing wireless applications such as WiFi and WLAN.
For many high-frequency circuit designers, wireless communications systems such as Third Generation (3G), Fourth Generation (4G), and Long Term Evolution (LTE) have represented rapid growth areas. But even without a standard in place, excitement is growing for the coming of 5G wireless communications systems and the type of services they will provide in the years to come, including fast wireless data with almost zero latency. Transferring high-speed digital signals will be an important part of any future communications network and the ROG Blog from January 22, 2015, “Selecting PCB Materials For High-Speed Digital Circuits,” detailed how RO4003™ circuit materials provided the proper mix of characteristics for speeds to 25 GB/s and beyond.
Higher-frequency (millimeter-wave) signals are expected to play important roles in 5G next-generation communications systems, and the ROG Blog has already provided several installments on choosing materials for millimeter-wave circuits, such as “Making The Most of Millimeter-Wave Circuits” and “Matching Materials To Millimeter-Wave Circuits.” Since millimeter-wave frequency bands are planned for high-data-rate backhaul links throughout 5G networks, the need for circuit materials capable of reliable, low-loss performance at 50 through 70 GHz should continue to grow, prompting more ROG Blogs on this topic.
The expected boost in the number of wireless signals in use during the next decade should also focus circuit designers’ attention on the material characteristics needed for low-PIM performance. An earlier ROG Blog, “Perusing PCBs For Low PIM Levels,” explained the role of circuit materials in the design of PCB antennas and how circuit material characteristics should be chosen to minimize PIM. That blog presented Rogers’ RO4725JXR™ and RO4730JXR™ circuit laminates as non-PTFE, halogen-free circuit materials with the characteristics needed to minimize PIM. With the growing number of wireless signals to be generated during the coming decade, in high-volume applications such as 5G and IoT, the importance of minimizing PIM only increases and certainly should be a recurring topic of this ROG Blog series.
The first six years of the ROG Blog series provided circuit specifiers with key insights on different aspects of circuit materials, such as material parameters important for impedance matching, for dissipating heat, and for minimizing losses. ROG Blogs have explored such things as the importance of circuit laminate finish, in “Finish Makes a Difference in Broadband PCB Loss,” and the reason for using a high-dielectric-constant (Dk) circuit material, in “Harness High-Dk Circuit Materials.” The next 100 ROG Blogs hope to provide guidance on the best use of these high-frequency materials, as starting points for what appears to be many high-frequency, high-speed circuits in the decade to come.
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A huge thank you and best wishes to Fred Seidel, Customer Service Manager, on his retirement from Rogers. Known as Mr. PORON, Fred has a deep and extensive knowledge of all of Rogers’ elastomeric products, including the PORON® family of polyurethane materials. From its beginnings as a sintered vinyl used as an insole wrap in the shoe industry, to today’s wide range of formulations, PORON materials deliver durable, long-term performance in gasketing, sealing, and cushioning applications. Fred’s professional expertise will be greatly missed. Again, our best wishes go with you Fred – enjoy your retirement!