Local battery life cycle firm a strong example of innovation, entrepreneurship

A year ago, Spiers New Technologies had about 40 employees. Today that number is close to 60, and the young company continues to grow more than 100 percent a year.

Spiers New Technologies provides a one-stop solution to battery life cycle management and has become, in a very short time, the recognized go-to partner by the automotive industry for life cycle management of advanced battery packs.

The proof? Spiers takes in about 10,000 battery modules used in hybrid and electric vehicles each week for repair, re-manufacturing, refurbishing, and re-purposing. A battery in an electric vehicle can average around 100,000 miles before it loses muscle; Spiers’ systematized expertise helps vehicle manufacturers restore and re-purpose used batteries, optimizing battery life cycles and maximizing the manufacturer’s return on investment in batteries.

CEO Dirk Spiers is one of those entrepreneurs who has a vision for the next five years out and simultaneously is driven to improve today’s operations. The next step he sees is to expand to Europe and China.

And after that, he wants to figure out how to reconfigure batteries that can no longer be used to power electric cars to, instead, provide power backup for homes and buildings. The power that an early Nissan leaf takes to go 80 miles could supply energy to run a home for a day or two. Reworking car batteries to meet safety and building codes will take serious engineering, but Spiers is already drawing diagrams for this enormous opportunity.

In terms of the utmost on quality operations, Spiers New Technologies is implementing the company’s first robot on one of the main manufacturing lines.

“We’re testing repetitive tasks where humans can make easy mistakes,” Spiers said. “If you believe in the power of robots for the future, and we do, you have to go at it and experiment.”

The company’s collaborative robot will work next to humans. And speaking of those humans, the firm is every bit as dedicated to a top-flight workforce as it is to leading-edge technology and operations.

“Everything is becoming electric,” Spiers said. “The power grid is becoming renewable. We are always looking for electrical engineers and electrical power engineers, people who understand how to interface with the grid. Working closely with OCAST’s (Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology) internship program has been very successful. It allows us to work with budding Oklahoma engineers in the summer and hire them when they graduate.”

As Spiers New Technologies continues to grow, the company continues to push the envelope.

“It’s exciting to be surrounded with these really great, exciting people,” Spiers said. “This place is always in motion, always changing, always making continuous improvement.”

When we talk about the virtuous cycle of innovation and entrepreneurship, this is what we’re talking about.

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

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