Member Spotlight: Curtis Instruments



Curtis Instruments, based in Mount Kisco, New York, is a world leader in the design and manufacturing of instrumentation and controls for electric vehicles of all types. 

The company’s expertise is in motor speed control, battery measurement and other instrumentation for electric and hybrid vehicles.  These include industrial and construction vehicles, golf carts, material handling equipment, medical mobility, sweeper/scrubber equipment, airport ground support equipment and aerial lift equipment.  The company provides a variety of devices and integrated subsystems including battery chargers and battery management systems, DC/DC converters, switches, throttles, foot pedals, audio alarms and beacons.  Vehicle design engineers at major OEMs around the world depend on Curtis technology in creating and improving their products.

Curtis Instruments was founded in 1960 as a family-owned business.  The company has been a leading provider of technology for electric vehicles for a long time.  For example, there was Curtis instrumentation on the Moon Rover used in the Apollo missions in the 1970s.  The company now has more than 1,000 employees worldwide with engineering groups in New York, California, Switzerland and China and manufacturing facilities in Puerto Rico, China and Bulgaria.  Curtis was recently named one of the 50 best companies to work for in New York State by the New York Society for Human Resource Management and this is not the first time it has received that honor.

Curtis is a pioneer global manufacturing.  Its first overseas facility was established in Northampton, England in 1974.  Under a joint venture, it established a manufacturing facility in Bulgaria in 1990 and it formed a company in China in 1995.  Curtis has implemented the practice of duplicating manufacturing facilities around the world.  This requires substantial investment but the company is convinced that moving manufacturing closer to consumption allows them to produce products at a lower cost and on a more reliable basis.

Curtis Instruments has literally written the book on the use of lead acid traction batteries in the various systems its products serve.  The company has provided a valuable resource to industry and to tech institutes since 1980 in the form of the Curtis Battery Book, which is the virtual bible on the subject.  Although it began as a physical book, it is now available as an online resource at http://evbatterymonitoring.com.

The latest major development at Curtis is the Acuity® battery monitoring system, which is a non-invasive device that mounts directly to an industrial vehicle lead acid battery and measures, records and transmits battery performance data throughout the life of the battery.  The company claims that Acuity is the most accurate and comprehensive battery monitoring system available and is ideal for use in electric vehicles for material handling, airport ground support, floor cleaning, light-on-road, golf/utility and aerial work platforms.

The Acuity system performs a highly accurate state-of-charge calculation that uses battery voltage, current, temperature and time to maximize vehicle uptime.   The device is permanently attached to the battery itself, so that information is collected no matter when or how often the battery is moved.  Nevertheless, Acuity is simple to install, requiring no cutting of cables or drilling into the battery.  When used with Curtis Acu-Set software, Acuity can upload historical data to a PC, provide instantaneous battery performance data on an ongoing basis and record battery data for specified periods of time or specific vehicle operation.

Eugene Finger, vice president and technical advisor and director at Curtis explains the difficulties faced in creating the Acuity product.  “Accurately determining the instantaneous state-of-charge and condition of a rechargeable electro-chemical battery is technically very challenging. We would like to probe the battery's internal structure, but in the real world this becomes impractical or impossible. Our computational strategies therefore rely on precise measurements of four accessible external variables: voltage, current, temperature and time, which allow us to accurately predict the battery's charge and life cycle status at any instance.”

Curtis Instruments is a company that provides cutting-edge integrated-systems solutions for electric powered vehicles, equipment and machinery.   The company holds over 50 patents in its field of expertise and to stay ahead of the pack, Curtis invests over 10% of its revenue in R&D and employs “Design-for-Reliability” at every step of the way.  With Curtis instrumentation on board over 1 million vehicles around the world, the company truly lives up to its slogan “Facilitating Zero-Emission Transportation Since 1960”.

For more about Curtis Instruments, see http://www.curtisinstruments.com.