Authentication and Identification
For critical battery applications, or with expensive batteries, authentication is often employed to prevent the use of unapproved batteries in the application. This may be to avoid compatibility problems with system protection and power management schemes or with the applicable software revision or it could be to avoid damage to the reputation of the product and the brand if inferior or unreliable cells would be used.
It could also be used to control the aftermarket in replacement batteries by preventing so called "knock-off" or counterfeit batteries from working in the application.
BMS (Battery Management System)
Authentication by the BMS works by incorporating into the battery pack a unique method of identifying the battery such as a code written into a memory device. The application interrogates the battery, looking for the correct code. If for any reason the code is not found or if it is incorrect, then a switch inside the application will not allow the power to be connected to the rest of the circuit. Only authorised batteries will switch on the power.
Authentication can also be used to restrict the users of the battery application to qualified persons only or it could be arranged to set limits to the maximum current which can be drawn from the battery depending on the level of authority of the user or the location in which the battery is used.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
It is also possible to construct similar identification and authentication schemes using RFID methods.
Holograms provide a cheaper alternative method for identifying batteries but they are less suitable for automation. They are easy to read but very difficult to copy, even by computer scanning. They provide a reasonably secure way for the user to verify that the product is genuine. While they can alert the user to counterfeit products they can not normally prevent counterfeiting. Holograms can be used in label form to record production data and to provide traceability in case of quality problems. The label itself can be used for tamper proofing and it can also carry advertising information.
Using barcode labels is the simplest and cheapest method of providing information such as battery type, date of manufacture and serial number with the battery. They are useful for identification, traceability and inventory management but they are not easily read by the user and are not suitable for providing automatic authentication within the product.