Power Electronics is a rapidly expanding field with a wide range of applications in commercial, industrial and domestic fields. This "new economy" high technology area provides innovative alternatives for electrical energy usage, and can achieve energy efficiency, reductions in plant and equipment size, increased flexibility of product and improved reliability. There are substantial commercial opportunities at both a national and at an international level, and the potential for this technology to facilitate the use of renewable energy makes it even more attractive in a world that is becoming more and more sensitive about the environment impact of conventional energy usage.
However, power electronics is also a particularly challenging province of electrical engineering since it requires engineers to have both a broad theoretical background and considerable practical experience in order to be able to work effectively. Standard university undergraduate training only provides a minimal starting base in the area and conventional postgraduate training has limited effectiveness because of the lack of student exposure to the practical and commercial issues associated with the development of power electronic converters. Hence many companies, particularly small manufacturing enterprises, have difficulty in developing power electronic based products, because of the level of expertise that they have to employ to achieve an effective outcome.
In 2000, Creative Power Technologies was started specifically to address this issue. The objective of the company is to become a leading provider of power electronics based designs and products in Australia and to provide cost-effective manufacturing support to the Australian and international electronics industry. The company employs five experienced power electronic engineers, who collectively have over 50 years experience in the design and manufacture of power electronic systems. It offers services ranging from technical advice to complete manufacturing support services for commercial customers, and has experience in circuit design (digital, analog and SMPS), PCB layout (including high frequency and high voltage circuits), circuit simulation, and software (from high speed, time critical interrupt code to ten thousand line plus systems). Prototypes are built in-house, subassembly manufacture is done using sub-contractors, and all manufactured systems are tested in-house before delivery to ensure a high quality outcome.
Creative Power has already established itself in a number of high value added niche product areas, which require excellent engineering skills to be successful. Two areas in particular are the development of converter systems for the auxiliary power supplies associated with traction system locomotives, and the design of precision measurement equipment to test electrical plant. Each of these areas has challenging engineering requirements that cannot be met by standard products. A further area of interest for the company is alternative energy generation systems for rural and remote areas, and some new developments are currently in progress in this area only. The company’s innovative structure, with minimum operating overheads and skilled engineering staff, gives it a particular advantage for these types of developments, since it can very quickly adapt its expertise to suit customer needs without requiring significant additional investment. This is a definite advantage in a high technology area such as power electronics, where unexpected complications are the order of the day.