Although only 7 years old, Ideal Power (IP) is a major player in the multibillion-dollar electronic-power-converter market. These converters are used for renewable energy, electrical energy efficiency, smart grids and electric vehicles.

The company has won several industry awards. Last May, for example, IP received the 2013 TechConnect World National Innovation Award for its three-port hybrid converter based on Energy Packet Switching (EPS) technology.

This technology lessens the converter’s weight, size and cost, enabling it to be used with micro grids. Impressed with the technology, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory signed a cooperative research and development agreement with IP to test the converter’s solar energy and battery storage capabilities in high-power, electric-vehicle-charging applications.

EPS also greatly improves the efficiency, cost-effectiveness and reliability of large-scale off-grid and grid-tied battery backup and photovoltaic systems. It uses standard lightweight hardware but requires embedded application-specific software.

The technology’s software requirements brought awareness to IP that its manufacturing and supply chain software was negatively impacting productivity at its Austin, TX, facility. As a result, the company began evaluating enterprise resource planning software. Christopher Cobb, president of IP, says the company eventually selected Rootstock Software because it enables real-time management of manufacturing and supply chain operations from start to finish. 

Rootstock’s software is built on the ( cloud computing platform, which connects a large number of computers through a real-time communication network, such as the Internet. The software features manufacturing and supply chain apps that integrate easily with native sales and accounting apps by and Cobb says this integration provides IP with operational insights and control while minimizing costly IT infrastructure modifications.

The software enables IP to constantly track engineering changes and provide full lot traceability and serial number control for its subassemblies and final products. Plus, the software’s comprehensive engineering change and material revision controls quickly send item and documentation changes to vendors and all internal departments. All of these capabilities shorten implementation times, lower operating costs and quicken business decision-making and return on investment. 

Besides earning several awards, IP was awarded $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy in September 2011 for advanced converter research. IP also received research funding from the State of Texas Emerging Technology Fund in 2010.

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