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A comprehensive guide to li-ion electric forklifts

What are Li-ion forklifts

A Li-ion forklift is a forklift that is powered by a Li-ion battery. Lithium-ion batteries are still considered a relatively new technology and were first introduced in 1991 as an alternative to lead acid batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are the type of battery most often used in our portable electronics, such as smartphones and cameras, and have become increasingly popular for vehicles in recent years too. These batteries are more compact and dense in energy than lead acid batteries, and although they are typically more expensive than a lead acid battery, they are more durable and convenient. Meaning they offer the opportunity to save money in the long run, especially in comparison to lead acid batteries.

Why should you use a Li-ion battery for your forklift?

Li-ion technology offers a range of desirable advantages for forklifts. For example, lithium batteries can save you significant time and money that you would usually spend cleaning, watering and equalising other forklift batteries. Further saving you time as you only need to charge the battery to maintain its performance, and the charge time is typically incredibly fast. The battery also tends to last longer with a Li-ion battery, so you can spend less downtime charging the battery and more time boosting your productivity with a forklift that delivers consistently high performance.

Lithium-ion batteries will typically be higher performing than other types of batteries as they contain around three times more energy than a standard battery. They also deliver a consistent voltage to your forklift, and will not slow down your machine as it discharges.

Li-ion technology can also be a safer option for your workplace and for the environment, as they are around 30% more energy efficient than standard batteries, do not emit any CO2 gases and pose no risk of an acid spill.

How can Li-ion forklift batteries help streamline warehouse costs?

There are several reasons that lithium-ion battery-powered forklifts could help reduce the costs of your daily warehouse operations, from energy savings to time and labour efficiencies. The key advantages to warehouse costs include:

Save on energy costs

Li-ion batteries are exceptionally quick to charge, usually reaching full charge in around an hour. Which is a huge saving when compared to the 8-hour charge time and 8-hour cool-down time of lead-acid batteries. Meaning with a Li-ion battery you save significant energy throughout the charging process and consequently could cut energy costs.

Save on time and labour

Lead-acid batteries, in particular, require a large amount of maintenance and can cut significantly into your employee’s productivity. For instance, with lead-acid batteries you need workers to spend their valuable labour time swapping out the batteries and water and maintaining the batteries. Lithium-ion batteries do not require any of this, so your workers can funnel their labour time into boosting your company’s productivity.

Become more energy efficient

We have already explained how lithium-ion batteries can help you save on energy costs; however, they can also significantly lower the amount of energy that goes to waste too, having a positive impact on your company’s carbon footprint. A lead-acid battery will typically use up 50% of its energy by giving off heat, whereas in the case of lithium-ion batteries this is only 15%.

Invest in the future

Despite the vast array of benefits of lithium-ion batteries, they are still not the norm in the realm of industrial equipment. Investing in a Li-ion forklift will allow you to be somewhat ahead of the trend, saving you money in the future when the industry makes a natural turn towards electric forklifts and other electric equipment in order to meet net zero.

How Li-ion forklift batteries could benefit your business

If your business already depends on a forklift for its daily operations, the type of battery you are using to power it may be having a significant impact on your company’s productivity as a whole. Of course, if you have a large fleet of forklifts operated with lead-acid batteries you will feel a particularly large benefit when switching to Li-ion forklifts; however, you will even experience a noticeable benefit if your company uses just one forklift too. Switching to Li-ion forklifts will not only save you time and money in the long run but also increase profits and reduce margins.

Industries that could benefit from Li-ion forklifts?

Although any industry that regularly uses forklifts could benefit from switching to Li-ion forklifts, they will be particularly advantageous to multi-shift application industries. This includes manufacturing, logistics, food processing, and any other industry that operates 24/7 material handling. The key reasons that these industries will find Li-ion forklifts particularly beneficial if they use forklifts so often within their day-to-day operations is that the larger cost of a Li-ion battery will easily pay for itself within a few years.

Furthermore, industries and companies that run their operations in cold environments will also experience greater benefits and quicker pay-back of Li-ion forklifts. This is due to the fact that Li-ion batteries can be charged much more quickly in colder temperatures and will also maintain their capacity much more efficiently in colder temperatures, especially when compared to the lead-acid alternative.

There are some of the industries where Li-ion forklifts are most commonly used:

Warehouses:

Electric forklifts are an efficient and effective choice for warehouse applications, as they can easily manoeuvre through narrow aisles and transport goods over significant distances. Electric forklifts are especially smooth over warehouse floors, and if you have any jobs that are especially demanding or intense, a counterbalanced electric forklift will be able to provide added stability and performance.

Industrial sites:

Electric forklifts can be paired with a range of forklift attachments, allowing them to be used for a wide variety of types of load. Electric forklifts have the versatility and flexibility to be exceptionally useful within industrial contexts. If you are running a small-scale industry, an electric forklift is a valuable investment that can be used for several different operations, proving to be somewhat of an all-purpose solution.

Construction:

On a construction site or in the general construction industry, electric forklifts are a cost-effective and high-performance way to transport loads. They offer optimal operator efficiency and are ideal for navigating tight and narrow spaces. This makes them an ideal solution for transporting any construction equipment to a construction site from a delivery vehicle, while their smaller carbon footprint can help reduce your operating costs too.

The different types of electric forklifts:

There are several different types of Li-ion forklift, each appealing to a different industry, company type, or workplace location. These types include:

Rear wheel drive:

Rear wheel drive electric forklifts are typically more compact, making them effective for navigating narrow work areas. They are also typically best suited to indoor work environments, making them ideal for warehouses. Rear wheel drives are also typically easy to use, meaning less time for your workers to spend learning about how to operate it safely.

Front wheel drive:

Front wheel drive electric forklifts deliver power over the front two wheels of the vehicle, providing adequate support to the pressure of the load. This means that you can always rely on a front wheel drive electric forklift to provide you with the optimal levels of power and traction when required. Front wheel drive electric forklifts are especially well-suited to sites with an incline or with more slippery floors.

Single drive:

The drive of single drive electric forklifts is more comparable to a diesel truck, however with the added efficiency of being powered by electricity.

Dual drive:

Compared to single drive electric forklifts, dual drive forklifts have the added advantage of a lower seating position and a smaller turning cycle. Typically, you can also rely on dual drive electric forklifts for a higher and more enduring performance.

3 wheel:

This is a powerful type of electric forklift that is usually suitable for use indoors and outdoors. This type of forklift can also typically be used on inclinations and reach capacities of 1.5 – 2.0T.

4 wheel:

A 4 wheel electric forklift is another powerful option, but capable of a higher capacity than the 3 wheel. These forklifts are mainly suitable for outdoor work and have a capacity between 1.5 – 4.5T.

Why are EP Li-ion forklifts unique?

EP is an especially great place to find your Li-ion forklifts, as they offer a wide variety of products spanning the majority of the different types of electric forklift. Whether you require a forklift for use indoors inside a warehouse, EP offer a variety of different forklifts designed for efficiently manoeuvring pallets through narrow spaces and aisles. They also offer an equally large variety of electric forklifts that can be used outdoors, such as on construction sites. These electric forklifts will typically be capable of transporting heavier loads across a construction site, driving as smoothly as possible over rough terrain. EP also offers several electric forklifts that are entirely unique to their brand. These include:

TVE:

The TVE is an electric forklift model that is even more compact than the majority of compact electric forklifts on the market. This model is so compact that it will be able to fit through a doorway. This forklift also offers an impressive capacity of 500-1500kg.

TVS:

This is another super-compact model, while also offering counterbalance. This model has been specially designed for use on uneven floors and outdoors.

Counter balance walkie trucks:

This forklift has been expertly designed to offer the user all of the functionality of a counterbalance truck, yet with the chassis of a stacker. This forklift comes with the standard FEM fork carriage, providing highly effective forks that will be able to lift any load. Your workers will also not need a driver’s licence for this electric forklift.

Whichever forklift you decide on for your business, a Lithium-ion battery is sure to be highly advantageous to your company’s time, energy-use, costs and labour, especially if you are currently relying on lead-acid batteries.

Contact us today to talk about how li-ion electric forklifts could work at your business.