In the material handling industry, productivity and efficiency are two important keys to success. There are only so many hours in the day, so whenever a company can find a way to do more in less time, they gain a competitive advantage. For some operations, especially food processing, 3PL and other multi-shift applications, lithium-ion forklift batteries provide that extra edge by reducing labor costs and improving productivity.
In this article we’ll answer common questions about lithium-ion (L-I) forklift batteries including:
- How long does it take to charge a lithium-ion forklift battery and
- When are lithium-ion forklift batteries worth the extra cost?
Q: What Applications Benefit Most from Lithium-Ion?
Multi-shift applications such as 3PL, manufacturing and food processing) and any other 24/7 material handling operations benefit most from switching to lithium-ion. For these type of operations, li-ion batteries can pay for themselves within a few years.
Operations where forklifts operate in cold environments can also quickly benefit from switching to lithium-ion. lithium-ion forklift batteries can be fast-charged in cold temperatures (even inside freezers) and maintain their capacity in cold temps better than their lead-acid counterparts.
Q: How much does a lithium-ion forklift battery cost?
The average price for a lithium-ion forklift battery is roughly $17-20k (about 2-2.5x more than a similar lead-acid battery). For that higher upfront price, an operation will save money on:
- Energy bills: lithium-ion batteries are 30% more energy-efficient and charge 8x faster than lead-acid batteries
- Batteries: your lithium-ion battery will last 2-4x longer than a lead acid battery
- Downtime: lithium-ion batteries never need to be swapped out and can be opportunity-charged during operator breaks
- Labor costs: lithium-ion forklift batteries do not require maintenance or watering
- Productivity: enjoy longer run-times and no decline in performance as the battery discharges
- Hazards: li-ion batteries don’t emit harmful fumes or CO2, there’s no risk of acid spills, and you’ll have 70-80 percent fewer batteries to dispose of over time because you won’t be replacing batteries as often.
- Real estate: reclaim the area you’re using as a charging room for additional storage
Q: How long does a lithium-ion battery take to charge?
A: Li-ion batteries can charge throughout the day in 15 or 30 min spurts, or fully charge during a one to two hour continuous session. Compare this to the eight hour charge time plus an additional eight hour cool down time for a lead-acid battery.
Q: How much runtime will I get from a lithium-ion battery?
As with lead-acid batteries, the runtime depends on the application (how much lifting, how much uphill travel). Generally speaking, a lithium-ion battery will last as long as a lead-acid battery - but it charges faster and does not cause a decline in performance as it discharges.
Q: Can a forklift be retro-fitted to use a Lithium-ion battery?
Yes! Conversion is quick and easy. The retro-fit simply requires installing the new battery and adding the charge meter.
Q: What about counterbalance?
Ballast is included within the lithium-ion battery case so it meets the required minimum battery weight spec.
Even though lithium-ion batteries cost more upfront, they can quickly pay for themselves through reduced operating costs - offering some businesses a long-term competitive advantage. For more information about whether making the switch to lithium-ion might be a smart investment for your operation, contact one of our forklift battery experts online or by phone.
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