Australia, Battery-power, Companies, Distribution, Features, Forklifts, Freight, Logistics, Materials Handling, Supply Chain, Warehouses

Unravelling lithium myths

Linde’s Lithium-ION range points the way to the future. Image: Linde.

MHD sits down for an in-depth discussion with Linde Material Handling Australia’s Allan Spackman and Greg Wood to demystify Lithium-ION forklift technology, address prevailing misconceptions and safety concerns, and highlight the significant environmental advantages Lithium-ION forklifts offer.

The material handling landscape is experiencing a paradigm shift with the advent of Lithium-ION forklifts. Allan Spackman and Greg Wood, Technical Solutions Managers at Linde Material Handling Australia, bring their wealth of knowledge to the table, dispelling myths, highlighting safety features, and underscoring the sustainability of these innovative machines.

Dispelling Common Myths

Despite their increasing presence in warehouses and distribution centres, several myths about Lithium-ION forklifts persist. One of the most prevalent is the belief that they are inadequate for heavy lifting. Allan Spackman counters this misconception: “When it comes to lifting heavy loads, the key factors are hydraulic capacity and motor power. It doesn’t matter whether the power comes from lead-acid or Lithium-ION batteries.” He further elaborates on the engineering benefits of Lithium-ION batteries, particularly their lighter weight, which allows for more flexible placement in the forklift, potentially enhancing the machine’s lifting capabilities.

Another widespread myth concerns the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of Lithium-ION forklifts. Greg Wood addresses this, stating, “Lithium-ION batteries have a higher degree of efficiency and voltage stability, which means less energy loss and higher power delivery over the hours the machines are used.” This higher efficiency leads to less heat development and energy losses during charging, directly translating to reduced CO2 emissions and cost savings.

The complexity of transitioning to Lithium-ION is another concern that businesses often have. Allan explains, “A common worry among businesses is that they have insufficient electrical infrastructure. But for many businesses, especially those not requiring superfast charging, the switch can be smooth, and standard lithium chargers offer more flexibility without significant infrastructure changes.”

Ensuring Safety in Operations

Safety in warehouses and distribution centres is paramount, especially with the introduction of new technologies. Allan passionately discusses the safety aspects of Lithium-ION forklifts: “Traditional battery changes pose a real threat. They weigh a tonne – quite literally in some cases. Using machinery to replace them amplifies the potential for injuries, notably back injuries. With Lithium-ION forklifts and the option for frequent plug-ins, we can significantly cut down these hazards.”

Greg Wood elaborates on the safety features inherent in Lithium-ION technology. 

“Lithium-ION, being denser in energy, comes with multiple safety layers,” he says. “Each cell is tested for safe shutdown when punctured. Modules are monitored for overcurrent and temperature discrepancies. The Battery Management System (BMS) is designed to disconnect the battery if things go awry.” Allan adds, “Its ability to shut down the battery is paramount. I’ve seen instances where fires have been ignited by lead-acid battery shorts. With lithium, deactivating cables when not in use or charging negates such risks.”

Sustainability at the Forefront

As the world leans towards more sustainable operations, understanding the environmental implications of Lithium-ION forklifts becomes essential. Allan highlights the longer lifespan of Lithium-ION batteries compared to lead-acid ones: “A lead-acid battery typically lasts around 1500 cycles. With lithium, you’re looking at between 2500 and 4000 cycles.” This increased lifespan translates to fewer batteries needed over time, reducing waste and environmental impact.

Discussing the recycling and lifecycle of these batteries, Greg Wood points out, “A battery’s lifecycle consists of initial assembly and use, refurbishment for secondary use, remanufacturing for alternate applications like stationary batteries, and finally, recycling.” He emphasises Linde’s commitment to sustainability: “We’re striving for a 95 per cent recycling rate for each battery. The energy efficiency of our trucks is always a top priority.”

He further adds, “Lithium-ION batteries and chargers have an energy efficiency of over 90 per cent. By simply switching to Lithium-ION cells, you can reduce your carbon footprint by around 30 per cent.”

Embracing a Future of Efficient, Safe, and Green Forklifts 

The adoption of Lithium-ION forklifts in material handling is a testament to the industry’s evolution towards more efficient, safer, and environmentally responsible operations. Allan and Greg emphasise the importance of basing purchase decisions on accurate information and thorough analysis. They encourage businesses to ask the right questions and understand the full scope of benefits and considerations associated with Lithium-ION forklifts.

In summary, Lithium-ION forklifts stand not just as a testament to technological advancement but as a beacon of sustainability and safety in the material handling industry. As we advance into a future where these aspects are increasingly intertwined, understanding and embracing the full potential of Lithium-ION technology becomes crucial for businesses aiming to stay ahead in efficiency, safety, and environmental responsibility. 

For more information on Linde Material Handling Australia, click here

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