What mega-trends in material handling industry are supported by Lithium Technology

2021/04/21 | Lithium Forklift Battery | 0

The impact of material handling on the recovery of the Global economy is monumental. Some segments were certainly hit harder than others during 2020, but today the whole industry adapts to the new customer demands faster and moves quickly to adopt new enabling technologies.

What are the three mega-trends supporting the post-pandemic growth in the material handling industry?

Most experts name flexibility, automation, and workplace safety.

It is in this need for flexibility in the warehouse, automation of operations, and top hygiene and safety standards, where lithium battery technology fills an essential piece of the puzzle. This article will explain how material handling companies can better harness these growth trends with the use of Li-ion power.

The flexibility of equipment choice

We wrote about the proliferation of various types of material handling equipment in the article about How Lithium-Ion Batteries Help Warehouses Keep Up with Modern Commerce. Increasing heights and reduced warehouse imprint, handling of very different, heavy, or bulky materials, all increase the need for diverse and specialized equipment. All forklift makes and models need their own unique power pack with varied requirements for weight, size, capacity, and power. Lithium technology offers great flexibility to battery engineers due to a much higher energy density compared to lead-acid. The best practice is to customize a battery for a lift truck fleet working in a specific application. A good example is the MC Series lithium battery by BSLBATT Lithium that fits many Combilift models. Some Combilift models use a design that employs 2 separate battery cases for lead-acid, while the CM lithium solution puts all the required power (and sometimes even more ah capacity) into one case, and the second case contains only ballast to meet the counter-weight specification.

Lithium Battery for Specialty Equipment

You can now benefit from more effective utilization of warehouse space using Combilift or Aisle Master specialty equipment powered by BSLBATT Lithium MC Series lithium batteries.

You supply the technical drawings, we’ll build you a BSLBATT Lithium battery!

Flexibility in work schedule

Not only do lithium-ion batteries offer a full slate of options to match the needs of the operations, but they also require zero daily maintenance. Li-ion batteries DO NOT require daily watering or swapping at shift changes, so companies need not plan labor for this work or plan facility space around battery charging/changing rooms.

The increased uptime that is achieved with the switch to lithium batteries similarly fills this need for higher productivity of equipment when the demand is higher. With Li-ion a lift truck can operate on a single battery with opportunity charging, and reach full charge in under two hours when needed. By comparison, traditional lead-acid batteries require eight to ten hours to charge and need two or more batteries per truck.

Adoption of automation

As the use of Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs), Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), and others grow within material handling, lithium-ion batteries gain more popularity because they are the best choice for this type of equipment. Flexible charging patterns, wireless charging, and other benefits are described in detail in the article on why switching AGVs to lithium batteries makes a lot of sense. There is a good reason to believe that with more warehouses going dark, most of the electric lift trucks will run on lithium batteries.

Modern lithium battery management systems are Wi-Fi enabled and provide fleet managers with reliable data on each lift truck’s battery performance, including energy throughput, the timing of charging events, and multiple indicators of battery health. This data by itself provides valuable insights for better equipment utilization and can be further integrated with the warehouse managing software analytics.

Safety and hygiene standards

Many warehouses and distribution centers are required to keep up the highest hygiene standards to match the requirements of food and beverage, wine, pharma, and medical supplies manufacturers. Li-ion technology provides a non-toxic and safe power source for warehouses of all types, they produce no pollutants. Conventional lead-acid batteries, while widely used throughout the material handling industry in electric lift trucks, present toxic risks, and real issues due to possible acid spills and fumes. These common safety issues are often the result of overheating while charging or simple human mistakes in the course of daily maintenance.

BSLBATT Lithium Batteries

BSLBATT Lithium forklift Batteries

BSLBATT Lithium customers have seen these benefits in action after switching their electric lift trucks to lithium batteries.

One of the largest medical supply distribution centers in Guangzhou was struggling with the increasing labor needs for the daily maintenance of their lead-acid forklift batteries. Charging of the batteries was often interrupting regular operations, thus decreasing efficiency and equipment utilization. To make matters worse, they were a safety concern too. The company’s fleet of 30 electric forklifts was having issues with batteries growing disturbingly hot. Added to this were the occasional acid spills damaging the floor coating and the trucks, creating slippery, hazardous, corrosive conditions. Routine maintenance had ultimately expanded up to two hours of added labor daily.

The distribution center’s switch to Li-ion batteries by BSLBATT Lithium did not require operational infrastructure changes. Using lithium-ion batteries offered an immediate positive impact. Daily maintenance of batteries was eliminated, operations became more reliable and the total cost of the equipment ownership was reduced by twenty-two percent.

The company then decided to switch to lithium-ion batteries exclusively at all its locations to replicate this best practice.

The logistics & Operations Manager in Mexico's large logistics distribution center (DLK) is a happy man. 

The new lithium-ion battery technology is revolutionizing his distribution center’s efforts to optimize operations and reduce costs: 

“There is no doubt in my mind the economic benefits are huge. With lithium, only for the battery change (i.e. the absence of it), we are saving 36 minutes per truck per day (6 changes of 6 minutes). Moreover, we do not need to purchase replacement battery packs. In this way, we can save 50% on the initial battery investment”

The significantly longer life-cycle of a lithium-ion battery pack allows for even more savings. Li-ion can outlive the Lead/Acid battery by 3-5 times. 

Every Reach Truck is equipped with 2 Lead/Acid packs - one in operation the other at charging. 

Considering that a lithium-ion pack can deliver 3-5 more cycles than a Lead/Acid, a single lithium-ion pack delivers energy corresponding to multiple Lead/Acid packs during its long life. This, multiplied by the total number of trucks in a big distribution center like Mexico's large logistics distribution center (DLK), makes the potential positive impact on savings and operation effectiveness impressive. 

The opportunity charging capabilities and no memory effect in the BSLBATT Li-ion batteries allowed Briggs & Stratton to charge randomly at any state of charge, creating a five percent overall efficiency increase. This greater uptime allows the company to be primed to meet the automation trend within the industry in the coming years.

950 lithium battery models

With over 950 lithium battery models available, BSLBATT Lithium can provide material handling operations with the right kind of lithium-ion battery for any electric lift truck.

The company offers the M Series for heavy applications, the Low Temperature Series for work in the cold ambient temperature, the MC Series for specialty equipment, 4500 PALLET JACK Series and the AMERICAN STANDARD Series for the most popular models of equipment in Classes I, II and III.

Benefits of Li-ion in material handling

● Reduce the total cost of ownership of MH equipment in most operations

● Single battery operation through multiple shifts, no need for a battery room

● Increased uptime with opportunity charging

● Safe and clean technology satisfies the top hygiene standards

● Versatile drop-in solutions for the vast variety of equipment and applications

● Automation-ready – a perfect fit for the AGVs and AMRs; cutting edge data capabilities

About the Author

Lithium Forklift Battery

Since 2012, served as chief engineer in our company, won a “Hefei gold worker" and another honorary title, its lead type low-temperature water system 76 Ah aluminum shell lithium iron phosphate power battery won the fifth worker in Hefei title of “Excellent" technology innovation achievements, Leading the development of ternary aluminum shell, water system lithium iron phosphate aluminum shell, water system lithium iron phosphate plastic shell and other products.

Leave a comment