Electric vehicles are the future of mobility and a sustainable lifestyle. This is not restricted to cars and buses, but also to forklift trucks and Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery could be the key to the all-electric future. There are several advantages of using electric forklifts for material handling. First and foremost, all-electric forklifts are majorly used in indoor warehouses, and not producing any fumes makes them ideal. Moreover, electronic forklifts demand minimum maintenance and do not need anti-freeze and oxygen sensors and engine oil. The only thing electric forklifts rely heavily on is strong, long-lasting batteries.
Although lead-acid batteries are the conventional power source for forklifts, the Li-ion batteries are now considered as alternative power sources. Moreover, experts have been exploring new lithium battery designs such as carbon and silicon electrodes. In search of the most suitable battery for electric forklifts, the market players have invested a huge pile of money in R&D. According to Allied Market Research, the global forklift battery market is expected to reach $7.4 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 7.0% from 2019 to 2026. The advent of fuel cell forklifts as an alternative to an electric forklift and expanding warehouse spaces and manufacturing sector further propel the need for an ideal battery for forklifts.
Li-ion battery vs lead-acid battery
Even though the world is inclined toward using Li-ion battery for forklifts, the price to pay more for Li-ion is an arguable discussion. Li-ion batteries could cost almost twice the cost of lead-acid batteries. However, the advantages offered by Li-ion batteries give them a competitive edge as it helps reduce overall labor costs and additional material handling operations.
The use of Li-ion batteries for forklifts could be game-changer, especially to operate in the freezer storage environment. The Li-ion battery is quickly changed in cold temperature and lasts longer than a warm climate. Most importantly, Li-ion batteries can charge in one to two hours, which helps reduce the monthly electricity bill.
The Li-ion battery is estimated to be more energy-efficient by around 30% than lead-acid batteries owing to higher energy density and it has a 2–4 times longer lifespan than its counterparts. Unlike lead-acid batteries, Li-ion batteries do not require a separate charging station.
Despite the advantages of Li-ion batteries, demand and popularity of lead-acid batteries have never decreased. The supply of lithium is limited and with the increasing use of Li-ion batteries, the supply will become sparse in the future. On the contrary, lead-acid batteries can be recycled and with the introduction of new technologies, they can be eco-friendlier and more efficient. However, lead-acid batteries demand frequent maintenance and special care to preserve its lifespan.
The advent of new forklift batteries
To improve existing battery technology, one of the leading manufacturers of forklifts, Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc. (MCFA), recently announced to launch its new Jungheinrich Li-ion battery technology. Li-ion batteries offer better energy efficiency, lifespan than lead-acid batteries.
The new battery technology is said to support more than 40 electronic forklifts across the Jungheinrich product line. As per the press release, the novel technology integrated the existing technology with an efficient battery management system, to offer greater run times and improve productivity. What’s more, customers who aim to switch from lead-acid to Li-ion, can opt for this technology and save the overhead expenses, including battery supply, fleet size, and battery charges. Moreover, Jungheinrich Li-ion batteries can last up to three times longer than the existing counterparts and show extraordinary endurance and higher efficiency, which is instrumental to save power costs.
Similarly, Flux Power Holdings, Inc., a prime developer of advanced Li-ion batteries also launched the LiFT Pack L48 Li-ion battery pack at MODEX 2020. According to Flux, the new battery is specially developed for 3-wheel forklifts that are often used for narrow aisle and high-performance warehouses. The battery offers high capacity and demands minimum maintenance. Moreover, it is designed to meet UL standards and has a dedicated interlocked charging port. As the 3-wheel forklift is the fastest-growing segment, the LiFT Pack L48 offers an advanced solution to the power demands of forklifts with enhanced safety and minimum maintenance.
Li-ion batteries for the future
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit hard every sector across the globe and made it difficult to decide whether to make big investments such as purchasing forklift batteries for the future. The recently-launched and improved Li-ion batteries are changing the way businesses operate and offer lucrative opportunities for those who are in the warehouse business by increasing boosting production and reducing the gap in the production-supply equation.
Improved forklift batteries are an excellent power source, especially when a company experiences a frequent change in workload in times such as an ongoing pandemic. Having a powerful forklift battery enables to improve productivity even in adverse conditions and enhance the bottom line.
Whether a company has experienced an increase or a drop in workload due to pandemic, investing in forklift batteries is essential for long-term growth. Moreover, those who want to minimize overall costs while improving productivity can opt for Li-ion batteries. Thus, those who still use lead-acid batteries have started to take this opportunity to plan for the future and opt for Li-ion batteries. In fact, market players are offering demo batteries to see how Li-ion batteries can benefit your overall operations, increasing demand for Li-ion forklift batteries.