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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

As environmental concerns and fluctuating oil prices continue to push consumers toward alternatives to traditional internal combustion (IC) engines, forklift operations have increasingly looked toward electric vehicle solutions over the last decade.

Customers are now buying far more electric forklifts than those powered by IC engines. Electric forklifts now make up 70 percent of total sales, and with increasing demand for electric power comes a need to provide a solution that provides all of the benefit of IC without a loss in productivity.

Lead acid batteries have been a capable solution for years, and they continue to dominate the market today. It is estimated that lead acid batteries power 90 percent of electric forklifts in operation.

But a new player has emerged on the scene in recent years and is revolutionizing the way some companies do business. Lithium-ion battery (LiB) technology represents the next generation of forklift efficiency, and experts say that LiB market share in electric forklifts will grow significantly over the next five years.

So, what’s all the hype about? Does lithium-ion make sense for every customer? Is it true that lithium-ion is better for the environment than lead acid? Here’s what experts at a few of the top LiB manufacturers had to say.

Does Lithium-Ion Technology Make Sense For Every Customer?

While LiB technology offers unique benefits, experts admit they don’t always make sense for every customer. Each battery manufacturer is different in how it determines whether LiB is a good fit for a specific customer.

Navitas Systems uses a calculation called Equivalent Battery Usage, or EBU, to determine if LiB is the right solution for a given customer. Navitas uses a threshold of 1.6 EBUs, meaning customers using their lead acid batteries more than an average of 1.6 times per day is a potential fit for LiB. If a customer’s EBU number falls below 1.6, however, Navitas will likely recommend that the customer continue using lead acid.

“Typically, multi-shift – 2-3 shift applications – are above 1.6 EBUs,” said Samer ElShafei, Navitas’ Vice President for Commercial and Industrial Sales. “We deal with automotive, general distribution, food distribution, retail, paper industries. It’s well-rounded. It’s really any type of application that operates equipment more than 1 shift a day.”

Electrovaya doesn’t have a specific metric it uses to determine the viability of LiB for a given customer. Instead, the company advises on more of a case-by-case basis.

Electrovaya initially offered sample batteries to customers and let them use them for 2-3 weeks. Then, based on the data collected from the battery, they could determine whether or not the battery was well suited to that customer’s application.

“Based on the lessons learned from these trials and the wealth of data, we can now do a really good job prescribing the right solution for you,” said Dr. Jeremy Dang, Electrovaya’s Director of Business and Project Development. “We can talk to a new customer today and ask them a few questions like, ‘how many trucks do you have? How many chargers? How many lead acid batteries? How many shifts?’ And from there, we can prescribe a solution that is right for them.”

Flux Power offers a similar view. The company installs its own telematics on the forklifts, the batteries, and the chargers to help determine if their batteries are right for a particular customer.

Flux conducted a survey with a small Costco distribution center that had eight units and was operating at about a shift and a half. After testing LiBs on the fleet, Flux recommended they stay with lead acid.

“It didn’t make sense for them to spend $20K for a big battery for some of their stand-up units,” said Tod Kilgore, Flux Power’s Director of Sales. “The lead acid out right now is very good technology, but there’s a time and a place for it. The same is true with lithium. If you’ve got smaller fleets and a single shift, you don’t go with lithium.”

The reason lithium-ion doesn’t make sense for every customer today is simple – the high upfront cost and the high variability in return on investment. LiBs are more expensive than lead acid batteries, and they’re best used in high-throughput applications, experts say.

“The higher the EBU, the quicker the return,” said Navitas’ ElShafei. “Generally, at greater than 1.6 EBUs, we’re seeing positive returns on investment in 18-24 months. The primary thing is finding the right application for the right technology.”

“We do often get inquiries from customers who are interested, and many times, we do tell them that this is not the right product for them based on their operation,” said Electrovaya’s Dang. “If you’re a one- or a two-shift operation, we find that the return on investment is not as great. In those cases, even if they’re still interested, we minimize the capital cost by offering a smaller battery and play around with the battery/charger ratio such that they don’t have too many chargers. But most of the time, we look for customers who are of a 24/7 or 24/6 nature. This is where you’re really going to see the true benefit of lithium.”

Exploring the Target Market for LiB: More Than Just Cold Storage

There are quite a few applications where lithium-ion makes sense – but some are garnering more attention of battery manufacturers than others.

The cold storage industry is the most obvious because of lithium’s ability to perform in a wide range of temperatures and environments.

“In cold storage, lead acid batteries don’t perform that well,” said Dang. “The impedance and impact on capacity is a killer for them.”

Lithium-ion batteries, however, can be manufactured with heaters installed to thrive such conditions. Nearly all of Electrovaya’s batteries, for example, come with an ingress protection (IP) rating of IP65, meaning the battery’s internal components are protected from water and condensation, as well as in temperatures as low as minus-35 degrees Celsius.

IP ratings range from 0-69, and are used to qualify levels of dust- and water-sealing effectiveness. LiBs for cold storage applications typically have an IP rating* between 65 and 67. A rating of IP65 means the product is “water resistant”, a rating of IP66 means it is “water resistant against powerful jets”, and IP67 means the product is protected from “immersion between 15 centimeters and 1 meter in depth”. For comparison, modern cell phones typically have an IP rating of 67 or 68, which protects the product from “long-term immersion up to a specified pressure”.

“Some of our competitors are offering two separate battery solutions based on the temperature application,” Dang said. “For cold storage customers, they’ll provide a battery with some sort of heater, and in an ambient environment, they’ll take away the heater. In our case, we have a one-size-fits-all kind of solution. We don’t care if it’s a minus 35-degree application or a 35-degree application, we prescribe the same battery model.”

Cold storage makes sense for LiBs, but the applicability of lithium-ion is much broader than just one industry, Navitas’ ElShafei says.

“It’s really associated with how much energy is being used,” he said. “It has great application and returns in the cold storage industry, but the applicability is much broader than cold storage. Some might reference it because that’s their initial target market where they focus their product or their efforts on.”

Another area where LiBs are a good fit are for third-party logistics companies.

“Those are some of our heavy-duty users,” said Dang. “It’s the nature of the business. They are moving goods all the time, so they may require heavy-duty, high-capacity batteries, something lead acid won’t necessarily be able to handle.”

The Transition to LiB: ‘A Culture Change’

Most companies have been using lead acid batteries for many years, so the decision to transition to a new technology isn’t always easy – and the transition itself isn’t always seamless.

Perhaps the top factor for customers considering the transition?

“Obviously the cost,” says Navitas’ ElShafei. “For the new technology, it is more costly up front. If the customer is able to look at the investment from a total cost of ownership, then that helps out with lithium rather than just the upfront price.”

Added Flux Power’s Kilgore: “The thing about lithium is you need data from telematics because your initials costs are so high. We’re not going to sell a battery to a customer that doesn’t make sense or isn’t going to generate a return on investment.”

If a customer determines LiB makes sense for their application after analyzing the total cost of ownership, there are still several things to consider in preparation for the transition. Adopting LiB requires significant training, reconfiguring of facilities, and more.

For example, forklift operators need to be trained on lithium – especially if they are unfamiliar with opportunity charging. With LiB powered forklifts, operators are asked to plug the batteries into a charger every time the forklift is not in use – even if it’s just for a short break.

“This is not something that they’re used to. So, in the first two months, operators were not plugging in their batteries, and batteries were too drained for the next shift,” says Electrovaya’s Dang. “It took two months to fully train them, show them that it’s very important to plug in during any break, whether it’s a five-minutes or 30 minutes. In that time, even though it doesn’t seem like much, the battery will recover a lot of energy that was already used, so it’s beneficial to the next person that wants to use the truck.

“With every customer we’ve done this with, there’s always a culture change. The first two months will be rough, but after the first two months, things will be a lot smoother, and you’ll see the true benefit of our lithium-ion battery system.”

Regardless of the battery type, though, Navitas’ ElShafei says opportunity charging will become more and more common in the future – even for lead acid batteries. While there may be a learning curve for operators, there are undeniable benefits to an opportunity charging approach.

Opportunity charging offers the ability to decentralize the charging location by having multiple charging stations.

“We have some situations where customers have smaller charging areas and they may have 20 trucks park in one area, but they do that in 5 different areas within the facility,” ElShafei says. “We’ve seen other facilities where they spread out chargers all throughout their manufacturing facilities and they don’t even need to take the truck to the break room in that situation. They might park it at a piece of equipment on the manufacturing line. The bottom line is opportunity charging offers a lot of flexibility.”

Battery manufacturers can help make the transition from lead acid to LiB smoother by helping companies train their employees and re-think their facility layout.

“In the beginning, the training was a bit ad-hoc, but now we do have formal training programs – both with the customers’ maintenance team and master trainers, and with some of the forklift dealers themselves,” says Electrovaya’s Dang. “In most cases, our customers install the chargers right beside the break room or by the bathroom because it’s more practical that way. It’s an easy way to remind and encourage operators to always plug the batteries in. But in some cases, customers don’t have the flexibility to add chargers to a specific location due to limitations in their facility.”

Flux Power conducts a full site survey prior to any installation to come up with a custom design that works based on the customer’s unique operational needs and concerns.

“It’s a learning experience, and education is a big deal. It’s a totally different technology, and a totally different mindset,” said Flux Power’s Kilgore. “Most customers have forklift operators that have been working for 10 or 20 years with lead acid on their mind, and it’s not easy to change that mindset. It’s like going from a cassette to a CD.”

But the experts we talked to all agreed: Retraining and rethinking facility layouts are not deterring customers from shifting to LiB.

“Our customers are understanding, they’re quite progressive. The number one factor is cost,” says Electrovaya’s Dang. “Not everyone can afford or has the budget to buy lithium, especially for a smaller operation. But for someone like Amazon or WalMart, a 24/7 distribution center, the return on investment is clear, and they have the budget to afford the initial high capital investment.”

Not Always Greener

There are many reasons why the material handling industry has shifted to electric products. Electric forklifts require significantly less maintenance, offer lower operating costs than IC products, and are quieter.

But one of the top reasons for the gradual shift to electric? Companies are becoming more and more conscious of how they’re impacting the environment, and electric forklifts produce zero emissions during operations.

Because lithium-ion batteries are more efficient than their lead-acid counterparts, it’s reasonable to think that LiBs would be a greener option. But that’s not always the case – LiBs have their own environmental concerns.

The major components of a lithium-ion cell require the mining of lithium carbonate, copper, aluminum, and iron ore. Lithium is only a minor portion of the battery cell by mass, so the environmental impacts of copper and aluminum are much more significant.

The biggest differentiator, though, is the recyclability of the batteries. Lead acid batteries have been around for a long time, and as a result, have much more mature recycling programs. Lead acid batteries are recycled approximately 99 percent of the time, compared to LiBs, which currently have a recyclability rate of less than 5 percent.

“It definitely depends on how the lithium is mined and how it is recycled and returned to the environment,” says Electrovaya’s Dang. “You only find a select few vendors in North America that are willing to recycle LiBs. But I believe that as the world transitions more towards using lithium, more recycling companies will pop up, and better recycling programs and technologies will be developed.

“There are some areas in which lead is greener than lithium, but the area in which lithium is really more environmentally friendly is in the application or the use of. Our LiBs are completely sealed with no gassing.”

As recycling programs are developed for LiBs, battery manufacturers are exploring unique ways to give these batteries a second and third life.

Flux Power asks that their customers send the batteries back when they’ve reached their limit, and Flux uses them as backup power for solar energy.

Navitas and Electrovaya are also finding ways to refurbish the used LiBs when they reach the end of their first intended use – which usually means a high-throughput operation.

“I think of the analogy of a cell phone,” says Navitas’ ElShafei. “You personally use your cell phone a lot, and at some point, you might say ‘my iPhone isn’t lasting as long anymore and doesn’t get me through my day’, so because of the battery life, you get a new phone. That will happen with a lift truck as well. There’s certainly a market for people who don’t use their iPhone as much as you do. Maybe they use it 4 hours out of the day and you use it 8-10 hours a day. The same is true with lift trucks. Maybe they put new software on it, they clean it up, they repaint it, they put new contactors and a fuse in it, and then they resell it to a 1-shift application that just uses it less frequently than the first customer.”

Electrovaya offers up to a 10-year warranty on their batteries. While their oldest battery is currently four years old, Electrovaya plans to repurpose batteries with any remaining life at the end of the 10-year warranty.

“We will find some second life application, whether it’s energy storage or maybe a one-shift operation like a mom and pop shop,” Dang says. “Every year, we do an annual inspection of the batteries. In our most recent inspection at the three-year mark, the batteries had minimal degradation, so they will actually surpass the warranty period. At the 10-year mark, as long as they stay on track, we do not plan on breaking down a battery and recycling it. We plan on repurposing it.

“The beauty of lithium is, depending on the specific lithium formulation and chemistry used, the batteries can last a very long time. In our case, we use NMC, or Nickel Magnesium Cobalt Lithium technology. This chemistry combined with our proprietary formulation permits the battery to last up to 9000 cycles. So, if you’re an operator that uses about 2-3 cycles a day, this battery is going to last up to 12 years, and that’s on the heavy usage side. If you’re a medium-duty user that uses 1-2 cycles a day, you’re looking at way above 15 years here. So, after the 10-year mark, you can definitely see another two years or even more in something such as energy storage.”

The Future of LiB

While the adoption of lithium-ion technology is growing, it still represents a rather small percentage of the material handling industry. Experts expect that to change over the next five years.

“There’s a misconception that in five years, someone can just create a battery that lasts twice as long as the battery previously,” says Navitas’ ElShafei. “Technology takes a long time to develop. With LiB, the technology is here now, and what’s going to happen in the next five years is the availability, the scale, and the distribution of the product will all increase and improve.”

Electrovaya’s Dang expects the price of lithium-ion technology to continue to drop as scale increases.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when and how much penetration this can get into other markets,” says Dang. “It’ll be a good thing for the entire space in general because costs will come down, manufacturers will find more innovative ways to manufacture lithium cells at a higher scale and a lower price. The same is true when it comes to mining the minerals needed to make lithium cells. It’s human nature for us to discover and optimize. The price we’re offering material handling customers today has significantly dropped since 2017.”

Battery manufacturers are thinking far beyond traditional forklifts when it comes to the future of LiBs. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), Ground Support vehicles, public transit buses, and delivery vehicles are just a few areas where experts say LiB technology could be adopted.

“Material handling is the number one space that makes sense, but any vehicle that is actively used for more than 10 hours a day could benefit from lithium,” says Electrovaya’s Dr. Dang. “And in terms of R&D, lithium-ion cells will continue to increase in capacity, so it will be possible to power vehicles like delivery vans and buses safely.”

Flux Power has signed contracts with Delta and Southwest Airlines as they transition into the Ground Support market, and they’ve seen significant traction in the automated guided vehicles arena as well.

“The future of lithium is really big,” says Flux Power’s Kilgore. “There’s great momentum now that all of these industries are getting more and more involved.”

Added Navitas’ ElShafei: “We’re all investing heavily in this market space to be part of the incremental market share conversion from lead to lithium, and from IC to electric. Lithium offers the performance of propane with the benefits of electric – what customer doesn’t want that?”

*International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

Posted by tfinco at 2/16/2022 1:22:00 PM
Wednesday, February 2, 2022

As environmental considerations and fluctuating oil prices continue to push consumers toward alternatives to traditional internal combustion engines, material handling operations increasingly look toward electric equipment solutions.

In operations that utilize forklifts, far more electric units are now sold than those powered by internal combustion engines. Electric forklifts now make up nearly 70 percent of all trucks sold, and with increasing demand for electric power comes a need to provide a solution that provides all of the benefits of traditional engines without a loss in productivity.

Lead acid batteries have been a capable but imperfect solution for years, and they continue to dominate the market today. It is estimated that lead acid batteries power 90 percent of electric forklifts in operation.

But a new player has emerged on the scene in recent years and is revolutionizing the way some companies do business. Lithium-ion battery (LiB) technology represents the next generation of forklift technology, and LiB market share in electric forklifts is expected grow significantly in the coming years.

But while LiB technology offers unique benefits, these batteries don’t make sense for every operation. You can use a new metric – Equivalent Battery Usage (EBU) – to help you decide if making the shift to LiB batteries is best for you.

EBU measures the number of cycles customers typically use their lead acid batteries per day. A common threshold for determining whether LiB makes sense for your operation is 1.6 times per day. If your operation’s EBU is above 1.6, LiB could be a potential fit for you. If it falls below 1.6, however, it probably makes more sense to continue using lead acid.

Typically, multi-shift applications are above the 1.6 EBU threshold – so any customer operating their equipment for more than one shift per day is a good candidate for considering LiB technology.

The reason LiB doesn’t make sense for every customer today is simple – the high upfront cost, and the high variability in return on investment. LiBs are more expensive than lead acid batteries, and they’re best used in high-throughput applications – such as distribution facilities, retail, and paper industries.

Posted by tfinco at 2/2/2022 4:58:00 PM
Thursday, August 26, 2021

Your business relies on you to ensure your operation has the power to run smoothly and efficiently. Advances in technology of both lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries can make a great addition that can help to increase productivity and reduce downtime and maintenance costs, depending on your specific application. However, forklift batteries don’t last forever. Understanding when and how to properly dispose of your forklift battery is crucial to ensuring the success of your operation.

Signs Your Forklift Battery May Need Replaced

Using a bad forklift battery not only slows down your operation, but it can cause further damage to your equipment. Use these tips to identify if your battery needs replaced.

  1. Corrosion
  2. Failure to hold a charge
  3. Spilled acid
  4. Excessive sulfated batteries

Recycling Forklift Batteries

If you recognize that you’re in the market for a new battery, you can’t simply throw your old battery away. Batteries contain harmful toxins and corrosive materials such as mercury, cadmium, lithium, and lead that can negatively impact the environment and our health. Instead, they should be recycled.

Lead-acid batteries

When lead-acid batteries are recycled, the battery itself is separated into pieces and placed in a melting vat, where the heavy metal components are melted down and the melted plastic floats to the top. The acid from the battery can be neutralized and safely turned into water, or converted into sodium sulfate, which is commonly used to make fabrics and laundry detergent. The plastic components can even be reused to make new battery cases.

Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries can present a number of risks when not handled properly. Due to these risks, the U.S. Department of Transportation carefully monitors the handling, transferring, documenting, and disposal of lithium-ion batteries. In order to recycle a lithium-ion battery safely, the battery must first undergo a full discharge of its metallic lithium contents to prevent potential fires that can occur if it comes into contact with moisture.

Here are some of the recommendations you should consider when preparing your forklift battery for transport. While this list may not be comprehensive, it does contain a few steps to remember as you recycle LiBs.

  • Seal the battery cap tightly to prevent liquid from spilling during transport.
  • Always wear the appropriate PPE when handling batteries or other hazardous equipment. This may include gloves, goggles, etc.
  • Separate the battery terminals with wood or cardboard to prevent them from sparking off of one another, which could start a fire.
  • Secure the battery firmly during transport to prevent sliding.

Designated recycling locations for both lithium-ion and lead-acid battery vary depending on the manufacturer of the battery, type of battery, and the state you are in.

View original post HERE

Posted by tfinco at 8/26/2021 4:53:00 PM
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

In the material handling industry, high productivity and efficiency are king. Whether you have one forklift or fifty, your equipment must have the power to deliver consistent results in order for you to win in your space, and ultimately, gain a competitive advantage. To do this, you’ll need a powerful tool to help you stand out.

One way to differentiate yourself from the competition is to incorporate advanced energy solutions or, more specifically, lithium-ion batteries (LiBs). Capable of rapid charging speeds and requiring minimal maintenance, lithium-ion batteries can take your operation to new heights.

What are the advantages of lithium-ion batteries for forklifts?

Still not convinced? Here are five reasons why you should consider adding lithium-ion batteries to your fleet.

  1. Increased Productivity

In material handling, we understand time is money and with lithium-ion batteries, you won’t have to worry about getting the job done. Lithium-ion batteries require less time to charge than their lead-acid counterparts, which also have to rest before they can be used again. Thus, your fleet will benefit from increased productivity and throughput.

Since lithium-ion batteries maintain a higher, more stable voltage over the course of a shift, you will also experience higher forklift performance which can translate to increased throughput.

Helpful Tips:

  • Avoid charging lithium-ion batteries when they have too low of battery life left. Instead, charge them more often. They do not need to be fully charged to operate correctly as do lead-acid batteries. In fact, you can fast charge a LiB in a matter of 10-20 minutes during an operator’s break.
  • Keep the battery away from elevated temperatures to avoid causing stress and changing capacity capabilities.
  1. Reduced Downtime

Unlike traditional lead acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries can be opportunity-charged, or recharged throughout the shift when necessary, eliminating the headache of battery swapping, thus increasing your fleet’s performance and reducing downtime. On average, a lithium-ion battery will last two to four times longer than a lead acid battery.

  1. Virtually Maintenance Free

Frequently having to maintain your lead acid battery can be time consuming and costly. However, lithium-ion batteries are virtually maintenance free and don’t require constant watering, equalize charging, or cleaning.

  1. Reduced Maintenance Labor

Lithium-ion batteries come equipped with cells that are sealed so you don’t have to wash or add water to keep the batteries operational, which reduces maintenance costs. Depending on your operation, it is possible that you don’t have to remove or swap batteries as you proceed through your workday because the battery can remain inside the forklift longer, eliminating the cost of additional storage and labor which is required for lead-acid batteries.

View original post here

Posted by tfinco at 3/24/2021 8:26:00 PM
Wednesday, February 3, 2021

When contemplating a forklift fleet transition from lead acid batteries to lithium-ion, there are wide variety of factors that need to be considered including fleet size, shift number, and your operational environment. In the right setting, it’s a big investment that comes with a big return when managed properly — including a wide variety of efficiency advantages.

At the same time, as you might expect, a different power source will come with a wide variety of changes to your operational practice. Here are a few of the differences you can expect, as well as some tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible for your fleet.

  1. More Consistent Power

Whether you have a single-forklift operation or a large fleet working 24-hours a day, one important factor in delivering results is consistent power throughout the charge of the battery. Lithium-ion forklift batteries deliver consistent power and battery voltage throughout the full charge, whereas lead-acid battery charges deliver declining power rates as the shift wears on.

Bottom line: You won’t experience a lag toward the end of the lithium-ion battery’s charge, so plan your tac times and work flows accordingly.

  1. End of Life

Because lead-acid batteries have been around for so long, there are many recycling programs in place for them when they reach the end of their lives. The recycling rate on lead-acid batteries is high. Recycling programs for lithium-ion batteries are still being developed.

Bottom line: Do your research and plan in advance for the end of your lithium-ion battery’s life so you know how to handle and dispose of the old battery appropriately.

  1. Faster Charging Speeds

In the context of day-to-day operations, lithium-ion forklift batteries offer significantly faster charging speeds and don’t require charging cool down. This can help optimize daily productivity or even reduce the number of forklifts needed to complete objectives.

Bottom line: Be prepared with additional work to keep operators and their equipment busy — you may start moving faster than anticipated.

  1. Opportunity Charging

Lithium-ion forklift batteries can be opportunity charged in any setting, eliminating the need for time-consuming battery swaps.

Bottom line: Make your charging stations convenient to your operators so that they can take advantage of this option during breaks, lunch, and other windows of free time.

  1. Fewer Batteries Required

Lithium-ion forklift batteries can remain in equipment longer — to the point where one lithium-ion battery can take the place of three lead-acid batteries in a multi-shift use setting. This helps reduce the cost of storage space required for additional lead-acid batteries.

Bottom line: Figure out how much storage space you’ll actually need with the new set up, consolidate your storage space accordingly, and make use of the “leftover” space with value-adding tasks.

  1. Cost

The reality is, lithium-ion batteries do cost more than lead-acid batteries. As a result, despite the operational efficiencies they provide, they are not necessarily the right solution for every operation.

Bottom line: Before transitioning, be sure that the efficiency returns you expect will outweigh the upfront cost.

  1. Virtually Maintenance Free

Lithium-ion batteries require none of the watering, equalizing, and cleaning needed to maintain lead-acid batteries. This is a money savings in terms of both maintenance costs and downtime.

Bottom line: Make a plan to use the time you get back from this necessary maintenance for other productive tasks.

  1. Culture Change

Forklift operators who are used to using lead-acid batteries will have to change the way they do their jobs when transitioning to lithium-ion because of the need to plug the forklift in to charge every time it is not in use. This transition requires a culture change that usually includes time for a learning curve.

Bottom line: Communicate clearly and intentionally before, during, and after the transition with your operators — and give them the time they need to adjust to a new way of powering their equipment.

Original Post: Justin Albers, Corporate Communications Specialist, Toyota Material Handling

Posted by tfinco at 2/3/2021 4:44:00 PM
Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The proper maintenance and handling of forklift batteries is imperative to their longevity. There’s a right way and a wrong way to maintain and handle forklift batteries and doing it properly will ensure your investment is maximized.

Proper Handling

Forklift batteries can be heavy and dangerous if not handled properly, so it’s important to be educated on the correct way to handle them. Use these tips for some ideas about handling batteries properly:

    • Use special equipment, like a walkie pallet jack equipped with a transfer carriage, to maneuver the battery. Because of the weight of some forklift batteries, no single person should attempt to move a forklift battery alone. Steel toe shoes should also be worn while moving the batteries.
    • An eye and hand washing station should be nearby. Should any hazardous liquid come in contact with hands or eyes, a hand and eye washing station should be conveniently located nearby to remove it as quickly as possible.
    • Chemical-resistant protective gear should be worn while maneuvering batteries. Having a conveniently located eye and hand washing station is necessary, but chemical-resistant gear should also be worn to keep the need for the station at bay. This includes safety glasses and gloves.
    • Remove all metallic jewelry when handling and charging.

Proper Charging

Properly charging a battery is all about doing it at the right time, for the right amount of time. Use these tips when charging your forklift battery:

    • Designate an area specifically for battery charging. This is an OSHA-recommended best practice.
    • Remember that lead acid batteries should be charged at 80 percent depth of discharge. Charging prior to 80 percent can result in reduced battery life depending on the type of battery.  Discharging the battery past 80 percent depth of discharge can also be detrimental.
    • If your battery overflows, take time to rinse it. Rinsing your battery after an overflow will help prevent corrosion.
    • Ensure compatibility between the battery and the charger. The charger that is being used should match the voltage/amperage of the battery. Color coding the connectors and clearly labeling the chargers can help to prevent accidentally connecting a battery to the wrong charger. Proper training is also imperative.
    • Avoid overcharging the battery. Some batteries have battery management systems that can prevent overcharging. If yours doesn’t, take precautions not to overcharge it, which can reduce the battery’s life.
    • Charge and operate the batteries at the proper temperature. Charging a battery in extreme cold or heat can cause reduced service life. Since battery types and specifications may vary, contact the battery manufacturer for their recommended charging temperature range.
    • Add water when needed after the charging cycle. Adding water to a wet-cell battery prior to charging the battery is a common mistake. Pure or distilled water should be used and the watering should occur after a full charge cycle to bring the electrolytes to the proper level.
    • Ensure the charger is turned off before connecting or disconnecting the battery.
Posted by tfinco at 12/15/2020 7:35:00 PM
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

BYD is an innovator in the marketplace. Trusted and reliable, BYD (Build Your Dreams), the world’s premier manufacturer of batteries, celebrates #BatteryDay today and every day.

Founded in 1995 as a pioneer in battery technology, BYD’s mission is to change the world by creating a complete, clean-energy ecosystem that reduces the world’s reliance on petroleum. BYD’s innovative products are leaders in multiple sectors, including battery-electric automobiles, buses, medium- and heavy-duty trucks and forklifts; the SkyRail monorail system; solar power generation and energy storage systems; and consumer electronics.

BYD always aims to make battery safety its key indicator of quality. BYD puts its batteries through rigorous safety tests, from burning, to overheating, dropping, perforation, crushing, and even shooting nails through their casings. Throughout these tests, BYD batteries have proven extremely safe, never overheating or exploding.

BYD forklifts can fully charge in under 90 minutes and can run 10 hours per day, seven days a week. The reliable batteries in BYD forklifts require zero maintenance and come with a 10 year warranty. 

BYD’s new forklift charger also sets a high bar for the industry. Thanks to the device, BYD forklifts can be fully powered using a 110V charger that requires no extra wiring and can be connected to a standard wall plug.

View BYD Forklifts

Posted by tfinco at 9/22/2020 9:03:00 AM
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

BYD forklifts are 100% electric forklifts built for the highest reliability in indoor & outdoor operations. Enjoy a seamless integration between all systems since BYD manufactures the forklift, battery and charger. Combine industry leading runtimes with fast anytime charging and you get a true one battery 24/7 solution. They operate across multiple shifts without the need to change or replace batteries.

  • 80V AC Technology
  • Up to 18 Hour Run Time
  • Iron Phosphate Battery - no gassing or acid, better for the environment
  • Rapid, Restriction-Free Charging
  • Recharged in as little as 90-minutes
  • No Battery Maintenance Required
  • 10-Year or 20,000-Hour Battery Warranty (industry leading) 

Ready to challenge the status quo and get rid of your battery room?  Learn More

Posted by tfinco at 9/1/2020 3:45:00 PM
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A Revolutionary Approach to Your Energy Needs

What powers your operation now? What energy sources will keep your business moving efficiently and cost-effectively in the future?

However you answer these questions, Toyota Industrial Energy Solutions is our promise to continually be at the forefront of new technological development, providing reliable solutions for your ever-evolving energy needs.

As you work to optimize your fleet amid increasing environmental standards and throughput expectations, Toyota Industrial Energy Solutions is your partner at every step of the journey. We deliver service and expertise — as only Toyota can — through our commitment to quality, forward-thinking innovation, and the support of the largest dealer network in North America.

Here are five tools and services Toyota Industrial Energy Solutions offers you:

1)    On-Site Consultation for Forklift Energy Solutions

Toyota Forklift dealers offer free, on-site consultation services to help identify the best practices and energy management solutions that will work for you.

Utilizing the resources made exclusively available through Toyota Industrial Energy Solutions, Toyota dealers are uniquely positioned to optimize your operation with the latest technological innovations tested and approved by Toyota, such as:

2)    Electric Forklift Batteries and Alternative Energy Sources

An extensive selection of lead acid and TPPL batteries, as well as approved alternative energy sources (including lithium-ion batteries), allows Toyota to uniquely pair up the best forklifts in the industry with the most efficient and cost-effective power sources. Some of the potential benefits include:

  • Increased charging efficiency
  • Higher, more stable voltage supply
  • Reduced maintenance
  • Eliminate battery storage areas and charging equipment
  • Increased cycle and shelf life

3)    Forklift Battery Chargers & Accessories

Your Toyota Forklift dealer can help you increase energy efficiency and lower operational cost — simply by matching your chosen energy source with an optimal charger! They’ll use battery monitoring equipment to pinpoint efficiencies that can be gained through an appropriate battery/charger combination.

Some charger considerations include:

  • Frequency – Higher-frequency charges, which increase charge rates and can allow for opportunity and fast charging.
  • Energy Efficiency – Converting power from your facility with greater energy efficiency can lower your electric bill.
  • Multi-Voltage – Chargers with multiple voltage capabilities can reduce the total number of chargers needed.
  • Smart Functionality – Wireless communication and other smart functionality can allow expert control of charging efficiency and timing.
  • Size & Weight – Smaller, lighter-weight chargers can decrease your storage footprint and are easier to move.

4)    Service & Repair with Toyota Industrial Energy Solutions

Peace of mind. That’s what you get with Toyota Industrial Energy Solutions — because you’ll know:

  • 3,500+ expertly trained Toyota Certified Technicians are at the ready to minimize your downtime — not only on your equipment, but on the energy sources that power them.
  • You’ve got a variety of alternative energy source options that have been tested and approved by Toyota as compatible with your forklift’s electrical systems.
  • Your equipment’s warranty will remain intact should you choose a Toyota-approved alternative energy source for power.

5)    Environmental Support

Keeping up with increasingly stringent emissions regulations has never been simpler. Your Toyota Forklift dealer can assist you with CARB fleet averaging and optimizing your product mix to fit your unique application and regulatory needs.

Dillon Toyota Lift can help you apply and benefit from the energy-saving and waste-reducing practices Toyota is known for, including lean thinking and the Toyota Production System

Original Post: Shannon Potelicki, Content & Communications Copywriter, Toyota Material Handling

Posted by tfinco at 7/21/2020 7:29:00 PM
Monday, July 13, 2020

Lead acid batteries are one of the most neglected pieces of equipment in material handling. Low water levels, corrosion, and electrolyte spillage are common issues that need to be monitored on a daily basis, but one practice that tends to be forgotten is the equalization charge. So, what is an equalization charge? I’m glad you asked!

What is an equalized charge on a forklift battery?

An equalization charge occurs when the battery is purposely overcharged after a full charging cycle. Essentially, you are charging the battery at a higher voltage than it is typically charged to help remove built-up sulfate and balance the voltage of each cell.

Why perform an equalized charge on a forklift battery?

If you don’t equalize your lead acid batteries, this sulfate is going to build up over time until it decreases the battery’s capacity. This buildup will effectively reduce your maximum run time, leading to more battery swaps or more time spent opportunity charging throughout the work shift. The voltage imbalance has a similar effect. Batteries work by using multiple cells that are connected in series to provide a certain voltage output. When you have varying power outputs in each cell, your overall battery voltage is reduced and your battery becomes discharged more quickly.

When should I perform an equalized charge on a forklift battery?

Equalization charges should be performed as suggested by the battery manufacturer, but many companies equalize their batteries over the weekend due to the long charging cycle. A full charge cycle is around eight hours for a standard lead acid battery and the equalization charge can be around an additional three hours. Equalization intervals will vary depending on your specific application, type and size of battery, and average operating hours.

How do I perform an equalized charge on a forklift battery?

First, you need a charger capable of equalization, as not all battery chargers have the same capabilities. Ensure you have the proper charging equipment for all of your forklifts. Some battery chargers will automatically equalize the batteries. This capability is more common in more sophisticated systems on smaller products such as electric walkie pallet jacks. Toyota’s 8HBW23 model, for example, automatically equalizes each battery cell during normal charging.

For batteries that do require manual equalization, be sure to follow all instructions provided by both the battery and the charger manufacturer to ensure you are following the appropriate steps for proper equalization. Equalization charges typically require longer cooldowns than normal charges due to the higher amount of voltage. Allow enough time for cooldown prior to using a battery that has been recently charged.

Posted by tfinco at 7/13/2020 2:11:00 PM
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