Companies Can Increase Production With A Lithium ion Forklift Battery

In response to the COVID-19 crisis and shortages nationwide, some companies are ramping up production to quickly get products to market.

As part of this production increase, many companies are moving their operations from a single shift to multiple shifts to remedy these shortages. For companies that utilize forklifts and other material handling equipment, lithium-ion batteries are a great fit for a move to multi-shift operations without requiring the purchase of additional batteries.

In fact, companies that are ramping up their production can rely on lithium-ion batteries as an efficient and safe choice for their operations. Here’s why.

Longer Run Times

Lithium ion Forklift BatteryCompanies that are adding production time to their operations know that having a forklift battery that can be in service as long as possible is the key to maintaining productivity.

Lithium-ion batteries, on average, run about 7.2 hours before requiring a charge. They can also be safely discharged down to 20% capacity.

A lead acid battery, on the other hand, typically requires charging after just 5.4 hours of use and can only be safely discharged down to about 30% capacity.

Swapping a battery after just over 5 hours of use can lead to costly downtime for employees. And during high production times, every minute counts.Shorter Charging Times

Lithium-ion batteries can be fully charged in 1 to 2 hours. But an added benefit is that they can be opportunity charged for 15 or 30 minutes here or there without permanent damage to the cell’s capacity. This means that in between shifts or while employees are on break, lithium-ion batteries can be charged and immediately go back into service.

Lead acid batteries, in contrast, require 8 hours to charge and must also go through a cooldown period that takes them out of service for another 8 hours.

For multi-shift operations, lithium-ion batteries and lead acid batteries differ dramatically when it comes to their charging times, and therefore in-service availability. One lithium-ion battery can be in service throughout a 24-hour period. During that same period of time, three lead acid batteries would be needed.

Shorter Charging Times

Lithium-ion batteries can be fully charged in 1 to 2 hours. But an added benefit is that they can be opportunity charged for 15 or 30 minutes here or there without permanent damage to the cell’s capacity. This means that in between shifts or while employees are on break, lithium-ion batteries can be charged and immediately go back into service.

Lead acid batteries, in contrast, require 8 hours to charge and must also go through a cooldown period that takes them out of service for another 8 hours.

For multi-shift operations, lithium-ion batteries and lead acid batteries differ dramatically when it comes to their charging times, and therefore in-service availability. One lithium-ion battery can be in service throughout a 24-hour period. During that same period of time, three lead acid batteries would be needed.

Simpler Charging Process

lithium ion forklift batteryCompanies ramping up their production to multiple shifts know that any type of downtime can be costly.

Utilizing a battery that includes a simpler charging process makes it easier for crews to quickly charge the battery and get it back into service.

Lithium-ion batteries do not require separate charging rooms and do not need to be removed from the lift equipment in order to be charged. Forklift operators simply drives to the charger and connects the battery to the charger while it is still in the forklift.

The charging process for a lead acid battery is much more complex and time-consuming. When a battery must be charged, a forklift operator must drive the forklift to a designated battery charging room.

Because the lead must be taken out of the forklift to charge, special lifting equipment must be used to remove the battery and place it on a storage rack where the charging will be done. As mentioned above, this charging process lasts approximately 8 hours.

Afterward, a cooling down stage takes another 8 hours. The battery will either remain where it was charged to cool down or personnel may transport it to a designated cooling area if the space is needed in the battery room to charge other batteries.

All combined, the charging process for a lead acid battery is much more complicated than that of a lithium-ion battery.

Minimal Maintenance

With production for some companies at an all-time high, there is little time for maintenance. The good news is that lithium-ion batteries require no regular maintenance.

That’s because unlike lead acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries do not need to be watered. This saves important time and manpower that is being used elsewhere in your operations to keep up with high production needs right now.

In lead acid batteries, water levels must be precisely controlled. Typically, the battery’s electrolyte levels are checked once a week and refilled with distilled or deionized water.

Workers must also monitor the battery to ensure:

  • Water levels do not drop too low that the top of the lead plates is exposed (about every 10 charge cycles)
  • Water used must be between 5 and 7 on the pH scale
  • Enough space is left for the liquids inside to expand, which occurs when the battery is in use
  • The cells are equalized regularly and temperature is controlled throughout the charging process

Failure to properly maintain the water level can lead to permanent degradation of the battery’s capacity.

Enhanced Safety

While productivity is important for any operation, ensuring employees are safe is critical … especially during extraordinarily busy times.

Lithium-ion batteries offer enhanced safety features to ensure that you are getting the most out of your battery while protecting employees at the same time.

Because lithium-ion batteries do not require watering, there is no possibility of a spill occurring. When using a lead acid battery, there is a risk that highly-toxic sulfuric acid can splash onto the body or in the eyes, causing serious injuries.

There is also minimal risk of overheating when using lithium-ion batteries because the battery management system (BMS) tracks cell temperatures to ensure they remain in safe operating ranges. In lead acid batteries, the electrolyte solution can overheat, increasing pressure inside the battery. This can damage the battery plates, or worse, cause an explosion.

Lastly, lithium-ion batteries do not emit potentially harmful gases when charging, unlike lead acid batteries. Because lead acid batteries can produce hydrogen gas while charging, especially if overcharged, they require separate, well-ventilated areas during this process.

This article was written by Justin Forbes, Director of Business Development for Flux Power.

 

 

Lithium-Ion Drive Systems for the Food Industry

Extreme temperature zones, seasonal peaks, special hygiene requirements – the food industry is governed by very special rules and poses unique challenges for intralogistics. The KION Group brands offer concepts that respond to these challenges with an energy-efficient solution: lithium-ion technology.

KION Group Lithium -ion

When it is -18 Celsius… What sounds like a mild summer’s day in the Arctic actually is the maximum acceptable temperature in the freezer warehouse at MD S.p.A. in Gricignano di Aversa, Italy. Four li-ion battery-powered STILL reach trucks have been put through their paces here at the food wholesaler’s HQ distribution center. The test was the first of its kind in Italy and promised particularly interesting findings since many trucks struggle at very low temperatures. With this in mind, the test focused primarily on how the trucks would perform and how the battery seals would behave. The results were positive: Over 180 days of operation, the batteries, which are approved for use in temperatures ranging from 60°C to -35°C, consistently delivered top-notch performance despite frosty temperatures and intensive use.

“Our tests of STILL’s lithium-ion trucks have delivered excellent results that convinced us to switch to this technology,” explains Stefano Paolone, a logistics director at MD S.p.A. Additional benefits made the decision even easier: Thanks to their superior availability, these trucks can cope with seasonal peaks when demand for fresh and frozen food spikes in the summer. Unlike traditional lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries can be easily recharged during breaks or shift changeovers. Thus, trucks can be used continuously without battery changes, even on a 3-shift schedule. It saves the company valuable time and money.

A core value for this Italian customer

“The lithium-ion technology allows us to achieve a combination of top performance and high efficiency in any application,” concludes Paolone. “In addition, li-ion batteries do not produce emissions, which is very important to MD.” The fact that sustainability is a core value at MD is also visible outside the building in Gricignano di Aversa: A modern photovoltaic system made up of 9,720 solar modules adorns the roof of the distribution center and supplies it with climate-friendly energy. As a decisive ‘next step’ towards a more energy-efficient business, 115 new pallet trucks with li-ion batteries have been added to the company’s fleet of around 2,200 STILL trucks. The new models will be utilized at the Group’s numerous branches, which are expected to rely exclusively on lithium-ion-powered trucks in the future.

Meanwhile over in Germany…

German brewery, Veltins, based in Meschede-Grevenstein north of Cologne, has successfully transitioned from lead-acid batteries to lithium-ion technology as well. Plans for switching to this alternative drive system had already been put in place about two years ago, together with the company’s long-term partner, Linde Material Handling. “Back then, we were using three Linde E14 trucks with conventional lead-acid batteries for transport tasks in the bottling process,” explains Benedikt Flügge, head of Logistics. “The trucks worked reliably, but there was quite a lot of effort involved in changing the batteries every day and properly maintaining them.” Lithium-ion technology presented a sensible alternative. To begin the transition, the company took two 1.4-tonne trucks into operation and rigorously tested them over an extended period. Based on the positive results gathered in the bottling process, lithium-ion trucks were also introduced in the processing of empty bottles and in pre-packing. The switch resulted in tangible benefits: thanks to their superior availability, two li-ion Linde Roadster trucks now perform the work which used to be done by three electric trucks using lead-acid batteries.

Solutions for daily use in the toughest conditions

Availability was also improved by setting up charging stations in strategically selected places: one station is located on the way to the breakroom used by staff, making it easy for employees to charge their trucks while having a coffee. “Initially, there was a certain amount of skepticism among our employees,” Flügge recalls. But within a few weeks, they had integrated the new processes into their daily routines. “Topping up the battery charge has become a normal part of our employees’ workflow.”

Conditions at the sorting center, where vast amounts of goods are loaded and unloaded on a 4-shift schedule, take the operational challenges to a whole new level. “Here, the trucks are in use 23 hours a day; this is the real deal!” Flügge points out. No problem for the 3.5-tonne electric forklift truck equipped with lithium-ion battery technology that is being used at the center. Currently, the company is testing whether electric forklifts can also be used to load full bottles onto freight forwarder trucks and unload empty bottles from them. “It seemed like the logical next step for us to also test the new battery technology with the 8-tonne forklifts,” said Flügge. And so far, things are going very well with the E80 li-ion model: “Acceleration, lifting, speed; the truck performs well and offers high availability. It can cope with an 8-hour shift of loading and unloading freight trucks without a problem.”

Thus, the path to a comprehensive transition to lithium-ion technology is clear for both MD S.p.A and Veltins. The KION Group brands stand ready to support customers with high-performance products that lead the way to a promising future.

Source: KION Group

Lithium Battery Price: Good Investment?

Purchasing a forklift battery is an important investment. The question for many companies, however, is whether their choice is a good investment.

The average cost of a lithium-ion battery is between $3,000 and $20,000, depending on battery size. This price tag can be up to twice as much as the average purchase price of a lead acid battery. However, when you factor in the long-term costs, a lithium-ion battery is less expensive than a lead acid battery.

Lithium-ion batteries offer significantly more benefits that make them a better long-term investment for most companies. Here’s why.

A Longer Lifespan

One of the first attributes a manager looks at is the average lifespan of a battery type.

A battery with a longer lifespan generally makes it a more valuable investment. If employees properly maintain the batteries in their fleet, the average lifespan of a lithium-ion battery is between 2,000 and 3,000 cycles.

A lithium-ion battery’s lifespan is twice as long as the average lifespan of a lead acid battery, which is between 1,000 and 1,500 cycles.

Batteries with shorter lifespans need to be replaced more often, and you may need at least two lead acid batteries to last the lifespan of one lithium-ion battery.

Longer Run Times

How long a battery runs before it must be charged impacts productivity and the overall efficiency of an operation.

Graphs-5

Lithium-ion batteries typically run about 7.2 hours before requiring a charge. And, they can be safely discharged down to 20% capacity.

Lead acid batteries, on the other hand, require charging after about 5.4 hours of use. And, they can only be safely discharged down to 30% capacity.

The longer a battery is in service, the more cost-efficient it is to an operation. Swapping batteries after just 5.4 hours of use can lead to costly downtime for employees who must then remove the batteries from equipment and replace them with charged batteries so equipment can go back into service. This takes away productive time.

Shorter Charging Times

Lithium-ion batteries take just 1 to 2 hours to charge. They can be opportunity charged in between shifts or while employees are on break. Because of this, only one lithium-ion battery is typically needed per piece of equipment, regardless of how many shifts a company works.

Lead acid batteries require 8 hours to charge and another 8 hours to cool down. This means that the true amount of time needed for a lead acid battery to charge and go back into service is closer to 16 hours.

This is key for companies that have multi-shift operations. If a warehouse operates 24 hours a day, equipment that is powered by lithium-ion batteries can be opportunity charged a few times throughout the day. That means one lithium-ion battery can be used for the entire duration of the 24-hour period as long as it has been charged.

If using lead acid batteries to power equipment over the course of 24 hours, one piece of equipment would require three lead acid batteries since workers would need to completely replace the battery after approximately 5 to 6 hours of use and then charge and cool it for 16 hours.

In other words, managers must purchase three lead acid batteries for each piece of equipment to cover a 24-hour period.

Saved Labor Costs

Labor costs are key to determining the true cost of a battery. As mentioned above, lithium-ion batteries can be opportunity charged quickly and efficiently. The process of charging a lithium-ion battery can also save a company substantially in labor costs.

That’s because lithium-ion batteries:

  • Remain in the equipment during charging.
  • Do not require transport to a separate charging space.
  • Do not require extra time to refill the battery with an electrolyte solution.

5 years savings using lithium battery

In contrast, when charging a lead acid battery:

  • An operator must use special lifting equipment and because of the battery’s weight, trained personnel must then remove the battery and place it on a storage rack where the charging will be done.
  • The battery is then charged for approximately 8 hours.
  • Once the charging process is completed, the cooling down stage begins. This lasts an additional 8 hours.
  • The battery will either remain where it was charged or personnel may transport it to a designated cooling area, if the space is needed in the battery room to charge other batteries.

In fact, one major equipment manufacturer discovered it could save over $1 million by switching to lithium-ion batteries, simply due to the amount of lost productivity per day associated with charging the lead acid batteries they were using to power their fleet of equipment.

Safer For Employees

A safer work environment is one of the best investments a company can make. Lithium-ion battery technology offer several enhanced safety features:

  • They do not require water maintenance. Lithium-ion batteries are sealed shut, whereas lead acid batteries are filled with an electrolyte solution. They require regular refilling with water or the chemical process will degrade and the battery could suffer an early failure. Watering a battery comes with risks. If a spill occurs, highly-toxic sulfuric acid can splash onto the body and cause serious injury.
  • There is minimal risk of overheating. Lithium-ion batteries have a battery management system that tracks cell temperatures to ensure they remain in safe operating ranges. If lead acid batteries overcharge, the electrolyte solution can overheat, increasing pressure inside the battery. This can damage the battery, or worse, cause an explosion.
  • Less movement of the battery reduces risk for injuries. Because lithium-ion batteries can stay inside the forklift for the charging process, workers avoid any risks associated with battery swapping. Batteries can weigh several thousand pounds, and lead acid batteries require material handling equipment to lift and swap the batteries for charging.

You can read more about how using lithium-ion batteries can improve the overall safety of your operations in our article, The Top 5 Ways A Lithium-Ion Battery Makes Your Forklift Safer.

A Good Investment For The Future

Often, an option that has a low upfront cost can be the most costly choice in the long run, which is why it is important to know what you are buying.

A lithium-ion battery is a smart investment because it not only lasts longer, improves productivity and saves costs, it also enhances safety … protecting your most important investment … your employees.

Our article, How To choose The Right Forklift Battery, offers a more detailed look into the cost of ownership based on a 5-year period.

 

Written by Justin Forbes

Justin Forbes is the Director of Business Development at Flux Power. He graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from UC San Diego, and earned his MBA from Duke University. He is responsible for developing marketing and customer acquisition initiatives, along with creating new business growth strategies to increase sales.

 

John Rosenberger of The Raymond Corporation Receives MHI Mentor Award

John Rosenberger, director of iWAREHOUSE GATEWAY and global telematics for The Raymond Corporation, has been presented with the MHI Mentor Award. This award recognizes Rosenberger’s dedication to The Raymond Corporation for the past 10 years, providing technical and managerial leadership to the material handling industry.

Rosenberger and his team were instrumental in the development of Raymond’s iWAREHOUSE product offerings. Under Rosenberger’s management, Raymond has become a leading telematics manufacturer. As an active member of the Toyota Industries global product planning team, Rosenberger shares his expertise and guidance across the entire network.

In addition to providing leadership for Raymond’s iWAREHOUSE offerings, Rosenberger leads internal team development, promoting continuing education for his staff members and providing guidance to his workforce and encouraging them to become leaders, with a number of them pursuing management positions.

“We are extremely proud that John Rosenberger was chosen as the 2020 MHI Mentor Award winner,” said Michael Field, chief executive officer of The Raymond Corporation. “Under John’s leadership and guidance, Raymond’s global telematics team has developed industry-leading solutions that have fulfilled Raymond’s promise to continuously improve and keep our clients always on.”

The award winner was announced at Industry Night on Wednesday, March 11, during MODEX 2020 in Atlanta.

TMHNA University Research Program

Also at the MODEX Show, Toyota Material Handling North America (TMHNA) selected two universities’ research proposals to receive funding through the TMHNA University Research Program.

 TMHNA announced the recipients of grant funding during a joint press conference at MODEX 2020 held in conjunction with Material Handling Institute (MHI). The research proposals selected for funding include:

Dynamic Capacitive Wireless Charging System for Autonomous MH Vehicles

Proposal Author: Prof. Khurram Afridi, Cornell University

Material Handling for Industry 4.0 in Small and Medium Enterprises

Proposal Author: Prof. Jorge Dorribo Camba, Purdue University

 The sponsored research program was created to drive the next generation of technology for the supply chain, logistics and material handling industries. The program encourages university professors and researchers to apply their knowledge of engineering and technical fields, drawing synergies and collaboration between collegiate research and TMHNA.

The University Research Program, now in its fourth year, attracted a record 44 research proposals from 30 leading universities across the country.

“Our University Research Program is reflective of Toyota’s mission to solve challenges creatively,” said Brett Wood, TMHNA President and CEO. “In partnering with leading universities, we seek to foster industry-led innovation by combining our resources and guidance with the fresh and new ideas coming out of academia. Together in the spirit of collaboration, we hope to build a better, safer, more efficient future for the material handling industry.”

Products on Pallets: 5 Ways to Make Sure Disasters Don’t Happen

IKEA warehouse

Image by icondigital from Pixabay

In the global supply chain, wooden pallets provide a secure base for storing and moving products and are often handled on a daily basis. While a pallet that is in top condition can safely hold multiple boxes and heavy merchandise, problems like incorrect stacking, inappropriate usage, or unnoticed damage can result in a pallet collapse that destroys thousands of dollars’ worth of product and threatens the safety and even the lives of workers. Thankfully, there are many ways to prevent this and tips to follow that will help ensure your company’s pallet racking or stacking is safe and able to do the job.

  1. Choose the Right Pallets for the Purpose

Safe pallet use starts with safe pallets, and it’s well worth your time getting it right from the get-go to avoid having to replace pallets, machinery, and inventory in the future. To start with, make sure that you purchase new pallets from a reputable company that provides detailed usage and maintenance specifications. If you’re shipping outside of Canada or the US, you’ll need to provide evidence of appropriate heat-treating for insects and mold, but this step is not required for domestic shipping. The supplier will be able to indicate if their pallets are suitable for use in racking and which pallet models are suitable for different kinds of loads.

“Pallets represent one of the most important tools in the supply chain industry today and must be sourced responsibly if global trade is to be sustainable over the longer term,” Jake Thill, Director of Marketing and Sales at Fruit Growers Supply explained. “When looking for the best pallet to use in your warehouse, look for a sustainable forestry certification. That’s important if you want to ensure your pallets are coming from environmentally-responsible sources. The quality of wood is often better when the land is treated better, too.”

While wood pallets are the most popular, there are several other options available too, including plastic pallets, paper pallets, wood composite and even metal ones too. Each has its own benefits and strengths, and you need to ensure you’re sourcing the right product for your business. 

  1. Have Pallet Racking Designed and Installed by Professionals

Your company may be small now, but the design of your pallet racking or stacking must take future growth into account. Retrofitting your racking system to allow for storing more inventory is not only more expensive than getting the design right from the start, but can also lead to overloading, forklift collisions, and racking collapses with potentially devastating consequences.

Having your racking or stacking system designed and installed by an experienced, professional company will ensure that you choose the correct system for the products you stock and the machinery that you use, and is also the best way to be certain that all of the relevant manufacturer and building code instructions will be followed at the time of installation. 

  1. Follow Manufacturer Instructions and Label Racking Clearly

Safety with pallets — as with any product — really is a matter of reading the instructions. Every pallet manufacturer will provide weight limits for the loads that their pallets can safely bear and these limits should be displayed with clear notices and followed by all staff and supervisors. As a general rule, heavier loads should be stored in lower bays and long and bulky items are best stored using a cantilever system. These guidelines must also be followed in seasonal hot spots for product turnover — as even temporary overloading or careless storage could lead to a disaster.

  1. Hire an Independent Company to Inspect Your Pallet Racking

Over time, pallets can weaken and become damaged, and accidents while handling pallets can cause them to break. For the safety of staff and the product inventory, it’s essential that any broken pallets be removed and repaired or recycled to prevent a slip or trip injury, and that staff are trained to report any signs of damage or faults in pallets as soon as they see them so that those pallets can be removed from circulation and repaired.

As a routine measure to prevent collapse, every company that uses pallets should have their pallets inspected by an independent company on an annual basis and maintenance and repair measures implemented immediately.

  1. Teach Safe Pallet Handling Guidelines to All Staff

Many accidents and injuries are a direct result of risky pallet handling behaviors, so your staff needs to be trained in safe pallet handling and adequately supervised to ensure they follow these guidelines on the job. For example, personnel should never climb on pallets to retrieve an item that is stored up high, should never be lifted while standing on a pallet, and should always lift a pallet with a lighter load between two people with appropriate steel-toed shoes if a forklift is not available.

By taking these safety precautions and never improvising when it comes to pallets, your company can enjoy greater efficiency, safety for workers, and a healthier bottom line in the long run. 

Author Bio: Jordan McDowell is a writer and content strategist. He specializes in manufacturing and often covers workplace safety, but also enjoys writing about the automotive industry and exploring the great outdoors.