The lithium-ion age

Tipton, West Midlands, UK: The trend to battery power for forklifts will accelerate, says John Maguire, managing director of Narrow Aisle.

In the1960s nearly 70% of all lift trucks sold had internal combustion engines. Now that share is falling rapidly, especially sales of liquid petroleum gas powered trucks, in favour, of battery-driven trucks.

In the 1960s nearly 70% of all lift trucks sold had internal combustion engines. Now that share is falling rapidly, espspeciall sales of liquid petrolean gas powered trucks, in favour, of battery-driven trucks.

“Sales of LP Gas-powered warehouse trucks have been declining for a while for several reasons; compared to battery electric power, the cost of LP gas is costly and linked to global oil prices, and from an operational point of view the time taken to change and store each gas bottle means that truck downtime can be a problem for some high utilisation customers unless a bulk tank can be justified,” Maguire, says.

“In addition, the control systems and catalytic converters required to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide emission from LPG engines add significantly to a truck’s operating costs. There are many differing emission control and safe operational noise level standards and rules across the world which make the supply and operation of engine powered tracks more and more difficult in many markets.”

Maguire believes the trend towards battery power is set to accelerate with developments in electric truck technology – such as the development of Lithium-Ion batteries.

“Make no mistake,” he says, “the age of electric vehicles has arrived and many people feel that lithium-ion batteries are the future of industrial truck power.”

“It is more than 10 years since the first lithium-ion powered forklift appeared, and now some of the biggest names in industrial equipment manufacturing are using lithium power to replace fossil fuels.

“Take-up of lithium-ion technology was initially quite slow, but now more and more truck users understand the many benefits that lithium-ion battery technology offers.”

These benefits include greater energy efficiency and higher levels of operational performance. “The higher energy efficiency of lithium-ion batteries leads to notable savings in energy costs and allows rapid payback times to be achieved. Furthermore, thanks to their fast charging capability, lithium-ion batteries eliminate the battery exchange process which can mean less truck downtime,” Maguire says.

John Maguire, managing director of Narrow Aisle.”The trend to battery power for forklifts will accelrerrate”

All modesl in Narrow Aisle’s Lithion range are available with Lithium-Ion battery-power that requires virtually no battery maintenance – the truck monitors the battery function constantly and reports the battery status real time. Batteries can be charged within two hours, even if the battery is fully discharged.

“When it comes to running a modern warehouse around the clock, productivity is key which is why lift truck users appreciate the benefits of lithium-ion battery technology,” Maguire says.

Narrow Aisle is offering a free consultancy service to users of all makes of LPG-powered articulated forklift trucks to allow the benefits of switching from LPG to battery power to be compared.

The company has also launched a scrappage scheme for operators of LPG-powered articulated trucks. “Our scrappage scheme means we’re offering companies the chance to take older less efficient forklift trucks out of their fleets and replace them with the latest ultra-efficient Flexi technology in the most cost-effective way possible,” Maguire says.

Maguire likens the logistics industry’s move away from ic-engine power to battery technology to the changes taking place in the global automobile sector.

“The number of electrically-powered vehicles has always been high in the warehousing industry, this trend is now increasing in the whole logistics sector as it is in the automotive industry and, with the advantages that modern Lithium-Ion battery technology offers, Lithium-Ion is increasingly regarded as key to a clean, quiet and cost-effective power source for the future of all industrial trucks in the industry,” says.


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