The secret is out. Lithium-ion batteries aren’t just for lightweight handheld electronics anymore. Industrial applications for heavy equipment, such as forklifts and pallet jacks, can now take advantage of the efficiency and environmental benefits of lithium-ion. And warehouse operators are taking notice.
During the past few years nearly all sizeable fleets have been performing lithium-ion trials. Fleets have been benchmarking lithium power against traditional lead-acid batteries and comparing performance results to expectations. They’ve been measuring throughput, operator safety and user satisfaction. These lithium-ion ‘pilot programs’ are proving incredibly productive, and full-scale rollouts are expected to increase in 2018.
This post takes a look at the top 8 reasons why businesses are making the switch to lithium-ion from lead-acid to power their forklifts. In 2018 we expect to see not only lithium conversions in older equipment, but increasingly more companies are demanding their new equipment come with lithium-ion power.
Top Reasons Driving Lithium-Ion Forklift Adoption in 2018
#1 No Water Maintenance
This is a big deal for logistics personnel. Removing the mess, the headache and schedules for having to vent, add water and potentially deal with toxic acid spills is a tremendous value-add for lithium-ion.
#2 Charge Lithium Packs When and Where You Want
When using lithium-ion battery packs for pallet jacks (with an onboard charger), you can simply plug the unit into any common wall outlet during lunch, breaks, or anytime. Since you don’t need an extra backup when charging, you can potentially remove the need for battery rooms. Larger lithium-ion batteries with external chargers are already optimized for opportunity charging. This is not so with the mandatory 6 – 8 hour cool-down period, plus lengthy charge up period required for traditional lead-acid batteries.
#3 Fast Charge in as Little as One Hour
Instead of an 8 hour charge and then 8 hour cool down, (as is typical with lead-acid), lithium ion batteries can be fully charged in as little as one hour. This allows a forklift to be used in three shift operations on a single battery.
#4 Longer Life Expectancy
Lithium-ion batteries are expected to last 5 years or more in forklifts and pallet jacks as opposed to just a few years for lead-acid. Longer overall life means fewer transactions / vendors, greater efficiency and cost-savings.
#5 Energy Savings
Lithium-ion batteries have a number of benefits that contribute to substantial energy savings.
- In one test, we moved 200 pallets and then measured the energy out of the wall needed to move the pallets. It look the Flux LiFT Pack just 9.89 Wh (watt hours) per pallet; while the lead-acid used 14.86 Wh per pallet, meaning lead-acid used 50% more energy to do the same amount of work.
- In similar electric forklift tests lead-acid consumed 100% more energy than lithium-ion to do the same amount of work.
- Because the chemistry is so efficient, it takes a lot less energy to fully recharge lithium-ion.
- Lithium-ion also operates at a higher voltage of 25.6V (volt) compared to lead-acid (24V). This translates to lower currents and less heating of components.
- The batteries are also lighter, so you’re not carrying around as much dead weight.
#6 Clean and Green Power
Non-toxic solutions are simply better. Eco-friendly lithium packs are sealed with no noxious fumes or risk of acid spills. There are no hazardous materials in lithium-ion. What’s more, as entire fleets shift to lithium-ion, overall carbon footprint is reduced due to more efficient charging as mentioned above.
#7 Remote Monitoring
Data moves fast. Advanced packs allow you to login and see the charge status and location of your batteries at any given time. This helps protects your investment from abuse, and allows you to track your productivity more easily.
#8 Lower Total Cost of Ownership
As above, lithium-ion batteries are energy efficient, require no watering, last longer, and improve productivity. This is why in almost every application, it costs less per year when utilizing lithium-ion batteries vs. lead-acid. The reason companies are converting, or are in trials, is because they are learning the cost savings and reduction in headaches are real.