Lithium-ion forklift technology is now available in Australia, thanks to Australian Nichiyu Forklift distributor NFM Forklifts, and exclusively through their selected dealers, such as ISS ProRack. This article appeared recently in Machines4You.
What do good investments, the human population and lithium ion batteries all have in common? Exponential growth.
While many would argue we have enough humans getting around as it is, few would turn down an abundant source of cash or an invention—like the lithium ion battery—capable of bringing them a wellspring of benefits.
Lithium ion (Li-ion) is the latest advancement in machine power with a set of qualities that each have multiple flow-on benefits, creating an exponential wave of advantages for those who invest in the machines.
This technology is now available in Australia, thanks to Australian Nichiyu Forklift distributor NFM Forklifts. National Manager, Gary Hodge, explained the Li-ion revolution is driving the world’s most impressive tech, including Tesla’s latest beefed-up batteries for their range of electric cars. While there are other companies producing electric vehicles, Tesla is certainly leading the field.
NFM is kind of like the Tesla of the Aussie forklift market. There are other companies venturing into Li-ion powered products. However, with their range of Noblelift equipment, NFM are, at this stage anyway, the most advanced.
NFM are the exclusive national distributors of well-known and respected Nichiyu forklifts. Gary explained they are committed to bringing the latest tech to the Australian market, which is why they’ve added Noblelift Lithium to their national dealership network.
Noblelift is built on tenets of high integrity, sustainable innovation, excellence and quality. The company invests heavily in research and development to aid them in building smarter products that drive technological innovation rather than following it.
The Noblelift lithium ion powered machines
Noblelift offers a range of pedestrian operated equipment including walk-behind pallet movers and stackers. In place of the old lead acid batteries, they are all fitted with advanced lithium ion battery packs which come with a three-year, full-replacement warranty.
Lead acid batteries have been getting around since 1859. Considering how rapidly technology advances nowadays (even a two-year-old computer has all the speed and aesthetic appeal of a pile of bricks), that is one outdated contraption. Li-ion, on the other hand, is the latest battery-powering development, energising not only forklifts but cars, houses, buildings and multiple other enterprises around the world.
Apart from being old news, lead acid batteries are filled, as the name suggests, with acid. Not great. This exposes the operator to all sorts of potential hazards including splashes, burns, eye injuries and poison inhalation. Just using a lead acid powered machine in the workplace means you need to have gloves, glasses, eye wash bays, acid-proof paint on the floors and all sorts of other preventative measures in place. In a sentence so efficient it perfectly encapsulated the simplicity of a li-ion powered machine, Gary declared:
“Lithium ion has none of that.”
Lithium ion: the first layer of benefits
Providing a classy base of operations for the new li-ion batteries, Noblelift machines use world-leading tech, with the best microprocessors and AC power supply, which means they are much smoother, safer and easier to operate. This makes them a perfect match for the safer, cleaner and more productive lithium ion batteries.
“Lithium ion machines offer rapid recharging, zero maintenance, no dangerous acid spills or gas emission, and improved run-time.”
From simple to exponential
While these benefits are already impressive, they all go deeper, expanding out and intersecting with each other to create an endless web of additional benefits.
Rapid charge = long work hours with no maintenance required
Li-ion batteries naturally take charge faster than lead acid batteries and are a lot more relaxed about the whole thing. They’re happy to be “opportunity charged” to less than full capacity. Lead acid batteries, on the other hand, demand commitment. If you do anything less than a full charge, or leave them in storage too long, they’ll succumb to negative sulfation effects.
To get a full lead acid battery charge takes around eight hours. So you have to spend more time charging it than you get to spend using it. Whereas with the Li-ion, it’ll take one or two hours to charge and will work for up to 20 hours off that one charge. And if you can’t resist sneaking in a cheeky charge-up over lunch, no worries. You can bump it back up, and it’s good to go, no damage done, even if you fall short of 100% charge.
Upgrading to a Li-ion machine makes second and third shift batteries obsolete. This means you need just one battery per machine and never need to worry about removing it which, in turn, eliminates the risk of injury when changing batteries.
Lithium ion batteries do not contain acid and don’t require water, making the Noblelift battery 100% maintenance free. Unless you want to count charging as maintenance; and it does that in a fifth of the time with no cool down period required.
“There’s no water to top up. If a lead acid battery isn’t properly maintained, water topped up regularly, it’ll fail and could cost the business thousands of dollars to replace. This eliminates that risk too.”
Not only do they charge faster, Li-ion batteries get more out of every charge with run-times four to five times greater than their lead acid counterparts. So they’re lower maintenance and harder working.
“Where a lead acid battery may run for five hours, it’s not out of the ordinary for a lithium ion powered machine to run for 20 hours. So there’s less downtime because not only does it need charging less often, it needs less total time to charge.”
Lead acid batteries also produce hydrogen gas when charging, meaning you have to be careful where you place them. Low maintenance lithium batteries can be charged anywhere as there is no gas emitted from the battery. This saves you the hassle and expense of a ventilated battery charging space.
If you think of the machines like employees, which one would you pick: the one who works long hours without complaint and takes short breaks? Or the one who works less, needs longer breaks and has a serious gas problem?
Removing acid and gas = massive safety improvements
With this new technology available there is no need for workers to be exposed to the risks of lead acid batteries. No acid means no acid spills. Not only is this safer for workers, it eliminates the need for costly safety measures. Workplaces can be free from the need for:
- battery changers;
- shift battery management systems;
- single point watering systems;
- eye wash systems;
- acid resistant eye-wear and gloves.
Reducing the risk for workers and offering a safer work environment also means fewer WorkCover claims, lower WorkCover premiums and happier employees.
Clean energy = boosted savings
The lithium ion powered Noblelift machines have the same power capacity as their lead acid counterparts but with no gas emitted whatsoever. This radically clean technology is great for anyone but especially advantageous for those working in the food and pharmaceutical industries; anywhere a clean environment is of particular import.
“You could charge it in an operating theatre and it’d be completely safe.”
For retail too, it’s especially useful. People using pedestrian equipment don’t need to be licensed.
“So a kid working after school—who doesn’t have the experience to handle the risk involved with lead acid batteries—can use these machines because li-ion is a completely safe power source.”
Exponential return on investment
Although lithium-ion batteries come at a higher initial cost than traditional lead acid batteries, they last up to five times longer and, as the above benefits continue to intersect with each other and promote further benefits, the ROI grows exponentially too.
“Having fewer charge cycles and zero maintenance requirements means you’ll have much lower service costs.”