Intelligent power supplies will accelerate the smart factory

As factories and other environments increase the connected networks of devices and equipment, there is a demand for reliable communications within the network and reliable power to maintain operation at all times. Power supply manufacturers like Cotek are responding with intelligent and programmable digital power supplies which are agile in being able to response to changing operation and power needs.

One of the main characteristics of a smart factory or connected automation environment is the need for fast feedback control and reliable monitoring to ensure the power supply’s performance and parameters meet the project’s requirements.

The smart factory will have multiple and varied components which need to operate together in often harsh and noisy environments. For this reason, Cotek has equipped its AD-1500 ac-dc converter series with an intelligent GUI (graphic user interface).

The programmable 1500W power supply can be used with a choice of communication interfaces and industry protocols and has the capability to memorise settings after shut down to ensure a rapid restart, thereby minimising downtime.

The series is made up of configurable modules and easy-to-use digital interfaces. The AD-1500 series can be operated in constant voltage (CV) or constant current (CC) modes, with full digital control via changeable interface cards allowing for single and multiple module use. The interface cards can be supplied with PmBus, Modbus, I2C or Ethernet communication protocols. 

A highlight of the power supply’s design is the easy parallel set-up and operation via CANBus. Customers can connect different models in parallel, to achieve the desired output. For example a 3kW and a 1.5kW module can be combined to deliver 4,500W.

Another highlight is the choice of communication interfaces: single, standard or Ethernet. Ethernet provisioning, allows the GUI to support a web browser to set and monitor the power supply. The AD-1500 is able to provide network communication over large distances. This remote access allows users to control, configure and/or monitor a power supply in, say the USA from a site in Taiwan for example.

Multi-protocol support

The ac-dc series is also constructed to support a choice of communications protocols. It supports the SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) or ModBus over TCP protocols for telecom and industrial monitoring applications. It also supports RS-485 (UART).

The memory capabilities of the AD-1500 is enhanced with a built-in EEPROM that remembers settings after a power shutdown. This means that it is now possible to set and memorise the parameters (including DC output voltage and current as well as the charging settings) after restarting the AC mains for rapid restarts.

The compact, configurable modules in the AD-1500 series offer users design flexibility. Programmability is from 0-105% of output and current making them ideal for low voltage, high current applications such as controlling metal corrosion (cathodic protection).

The modular design of the control interface means that new features can be added, while maintaining backwards compatibility with Cotek’s earlier models, such as the AE-1500 chassis mount, fan-cooled ac-dc power supplies.


The AD-1500 ac-dc converters offer a choice of communications options.

Intelligent GUI

An intelligent GUI (graphic user interface) allows engineers to set, to query and monitor the module’s status. It facilitates parallel set-up and operation, via CANBus and accesses single, standard or Ethernet communication interfaces.

The digital interfaces provide a level of control ideally suited to applications that require fast feedback control and/or close monitoring of the power supply performance and parameters.

Typical applications are battery charging – this can be for electric vehicles (EVs), warehouse automation equipment or in robotics, used in retail for example. In industrial settings, the AD-1500 can be used for process control, burn-in chambers, lasers and factory automation as well as charging, cathodic protection. In specialist healthcare applications, the power supplies are ideal for perfusion, laboratory and incubator use. Of particular interest are automation, robotics, air traffic control and financial services applications, which require reliable Ethernet communication.

Universal ac input ranges from 90 to 264Vac and standard outputs are 12V, 15V, 24V, 36V, 48V and 57Vdc. A particular feature of the ac-dc converter series is that all units have a 5V/1A auxiliary output as standard to reduce overall cost when 5V is required. This is always-on, even if the converter is inhibited.


The intuitive GUI provides a clear display of parameters to monitor and control.

Protection features

There are multiple protection features integrated into the design of the AD-1500. These include built-in ORing FETs, over-current and over-voltage protection. There is also over-temperature shutdown which includes auto-recovery once the temperature is reduced.

The AD-1500 series is fully protected against over-current and over-voltage situations, with the protection circuitry always proportional to the voltage and current setpoints. All units are also fully protected against over-temperature (unit shutdown) with auto-recovery once the temperature has reduced.

Futureproof design

All modules in the series are compact, with dimensions of just 280mm x 127mm x 64mm. They have an operating temperature range of 25°C to +60°C

Three-stage charging for different battery chemistries is being developed for release soon.

As a specialist power supply distributor, the company works closely with key supplies and has a team of dedicated and experienced engineers ready to support customers throughout the design process. Particularly with advanced power design such as the AD-1500, the design expertise and insights available from the Relec Electronics engineering team will accelerate the development cycle and speed time to market.

Relec’s team of specialist advisers can refine an initial specification for a given application to include bespoke features to meet the needs of a particular design or project.

In December 2020, Relec Electronics became been a UK subsidiary of Gresham Worldwide which provides high-quality, ultra-reliable bespoke technology solutions for mission-critical applications in the defence, medical and telecommunications.  Another subsidiary in the group is Gresham Power Electronics which has been designing and manufacturing a variety of best in class power supplies in Salisbury, UK for more than 50 years, providing highly reliable power conversion and distribution equipment for navies around the world, as well as supporting defence capabilities for land and sea systems and offering standard, commercial-off-the-shelf and application specific power electronics solutions for a wide range of demanding applications.

An interface for every occasion

The I2C serial communications protocol is one of the easiest to use and is typically used to control peripheral modules via a PC, embedded computer or programmable logic controller. It has a short range but is easy to implement and is used with a single master controller. It is used in industrial applications to interrogate the power supply (manufacturer and model name, for example) as well as to read real-time values for a range of parameters, for example output voltage and current, high temperature alarm, ac power low/off.

The PMBus (Power Management Bus) protocol is an open standard for digital power management. It is designed to work with power management products such as ac-dc power supplies, as well as isolated dc-dc break converters, non-isolated PoL converters, PoL voltage programmers, monitors and fan controllers.

The protocol is efficient, interoperable and reduces design complexity while shortening time to market.

Initially designed for the automotive sector to replace the complex and heavy wiring systems in vehicles to connect systems for safety and infotainment, the controller area network CANBus is increasingly used in automation system in industrial environments where its high immunity to electrical interference is particularly useful. It also has the ability to self-diagnose and repair data errors.

The RS-485 protocol defines the electrical characteristics of drivers and receivers in serial communications systems. It is characterised by its ability to operate over large distances and in noisy environments. It is therefore conventionally used in industrial control systems where it allows multiple receivers to be connected to a network in a linear, multi-drop bus.

The protocol is also known as TIA-485(-A) or EIA-485, acknowledging the joint development of the standard by the Telecommunications Industry Association and Electronic Industries Alliance (TIA/EIA).

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