In comparison with lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries have many advantages; like being more energy-efficient, as well as being much easier and faster to charge. We take a look at how you can make your lithium-ion batteries more cost efficient.
A key advantage is that they can be charged at any time, anywhere, regardless of the charge you have left in your battery. You can charge them when you have the opportunity to do so, this is what we call ‘opportunity charging’: you charge your truck when it’s standing still.
If your operation allows for frequent opportunity charging or you can organise your material handling around it, you’ll not only enjoy benefits such as increased flexibility and longer operating time. You can also optimise the size of your batteries and chargers to fit your operational requirements.
It all starts with good charging habits
When switching from lead-acid batteries to lithium-ion, we advise you to study and map your fleet’s charging habits to define opportunity charging possibilities. You can use our I_Site fleet management tool to find out where, when and for how long certain trucks are being used. When the truck is not being used, it can be charged. Good charging habits amongst your operators are very important.
It’s always best to let them plug in their truck as soon as they are done driving it. A good charging ritual and schedule for li-ion-powered vehicles comes with many cost-saving benefits, like using a single lighter battery per truck instead of constantly having to replace the battery and purchasing less chargers, making your material handling cleaner and cheaper.
Fewer chargers and lower costs
Since you have already observed your fleet’s productivity and its possibilities for opportunity charging, you can take it a step further and think about how many chargers you will actually need.
We just mentioned that with a good charging plan, you won’t necessarily need a charger for each truck. You can charge some trucks while others are in use and vice versa. This requires a little bit of planning initially, but it’s a very effective way to reduce costs when swapping lead-acid for lithium-ion. We advise you to start out small, it’s always possible to order and install extra chargers later on in case you don’t have enough charging capacity.
We have several types of chargers depending on what you require. If you have a smaller operation and fleet, a standard charger will be enough for you. But if you are a bigger operation with a more intensively used fleet, you might want to think about upgrading your charger to a bigger model so as to better fit your needs.
All of our chargers try to make charging trucks easy for your operators. Our second-generation charging plug for trucks is the same as those on Toyota electric cars. It’s already available on a few of our Li-ion-powered trucks, like our electric pallet truck BT Levio LWI160, our electric reach truck BT Reflex R-E-O series and our Traigo80 electric counterbalanced trucks.
This new type of plug has a simple and ergonomic design and is easy to connect. It also has a locking lever and LED light indicating its charging status. The battery management system (BMS) is in charge of the charging process and leaves no room for mistakes, as it will automatically switch off the charger once the battery is full. The BMS will also prevent the battery from overheating or freezing. Overall, the battery is damage-resistant and cannot be overcharged, making li-ion energy a lot safer than older types of energy solutions.
Intelligent Energy Packs
To match your company’s specific energy needs, we developed several ‘Intelligent Energy Packs’. If you have a warehouse with relatively low activity rates and a lot of possibilities to opportunity charge your trucks, our Standard Intelligent Energy Pack might be the right solution for you. This pack will last you all day with some strategically planned opportunity charging.
If you have a more intense warehouse with long operating hours and require very active trucks or if your opportunity charging possibilities are limited and installing more powerful chargers didn’t resolve your energy issues, we advise you to go up a battery size to the Intense Intelligent Energy Pack.
Finally, if your operation craves even more operating hours, our Max Intelligent Energy Pack might be the right fit for you. Our Max Pack will keep your electric lithium-ion truck going for ten to eleven hours without charging, depending on the intensity of your actions and the environmental conditions at your operation.
We’ll give you a real-life example: our standard Intelligent Energy Pack battery with built-in charger can keep our lithium-ion-powered electric pallet truck BT Levio LWI160 up and running for three to four hours without losing any power. Charging it for 30 minutes, will give you more than 1 hour extra operating time.
Standard Pack with standard built-in charger (30 Ah)
Standard Pack with optional bigger built-in charger (40 Ah)
3 hours of operating time when fully charged
3 hours of operating time when fully charged
30 minutes of opportunity charging adds 40% to operating time = +/- 1 hour 20 minutes
30 minutes of opportunity charging adds 50% to operating time = +/- 1 hour 45 minutes
These numbers are based on 100% utilisation rates, however, most of you have an actual utilisation rate of around 50%. This means the actual operating time will often be twice the amount of the time stated above. Furthermore, the second combination with the bigger charger will eventually reduce your initial investment cost and cut down on your energy consumption and emissions.
Dynamic power limitation
Smart chargers are standard equipped with dynamic power limitation. This technology makes sure that the truck with the smallest battery percentage will charge more quickly than the others when you are charging multiple trucks at the same time. Ensuring that near-empty Li-ion batteries get a bigger pick-me-up before their next usage. This reduces your energy peaks and therefore makes you save even more money on your electricity bill.
However, this also means that the charging time for your equipment might be extended, since dynamic power limitation limits the usage of energy from the grid, so a finite amount of electricity is used to charge your trucks.
For each material handling solution powered by lithium-ion, there are several Intelligent Energy Pack and charger combinations available. It’s just a matter of making the right combination to fit your needs.