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Why Electric Forklifts Are Switching to Lithium Batteries


Understanding Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries, composed of lithium metal or lithium alloy as the anode material and using non-aqueous electrolyte solutions, require strict environmental conditions due to the high reactivity of lithium metal. Historically, lead-acid batteries were the primary power source for industrial vehicles, especially electric forklifts, before the widespread application of lithium power cells.

The Shift in the Market

With the rapid advancements in new energy battery technology and the decreasing costs of lithium power cells, the market for electric forklifts and their corresponding batteries is quietly transforming. National policies favoring energy conservation and environmental protection, combined with increasing environmental awareness, indicate a significant shift towards lithium batteries over the next 3-5 years.

Lithium Batteries in Everyday Life

Lithium batteries have become integral to our daily lives, powering smartphones, electric cars, and power banks. The specific requirements for lithium batteries vary across applications, leading to diverse types. The performance, durability, lifecycle, and cost of lithium batteries depend significantly on their type. Forklift manufacturers typically custom-procure or specially develop suitable lithium batteries to ensure maximum safety and integration, while maintaining the overall quality and reliability of the forklifts.

Advantages of Lithium Batteries in Electric Forklifts

  1. Extended LifespanLithium-ion batteries can achieve around 3000 capacity cycles, far surpassing the approximately 1000 cycles of traditional lead-acid batteries. In most applications, a single lithium-ion battery's lifespan equates to at least three lead-acid batteries. Lead-acid battery longevity is also heavily influenced by maintenance practices, such as preventing leaks, ensuring proper cleaning, and balancing the battery, which can significantly shorten their lifespan if neglected.

  2. Convenient MaintenanceOne of the major advantages of lithium-ion batteries is their maintenance-free nature, reducing labor costs and boosting productivity. Traditional lead-acid batteries require weekly maintenance to stay healthy. Their high maintenance demands, if not properly addressed, can drastically reduce their lifespan. In contrast, lithium-ion forklift batteries require minimal upkeep beyond routine checks of cables and connectors and dusting.

  3. Faster and More Convenient ChargingLithium-ion batteries are designed for user convenience, particularly in quick charging. They can be simply plugged in whenever possible, even for short periods, and still provide a substantial charge. This means forklifts can be recharged during breaks without waiting for a full charge, enhancing operational efficiency.

  4. Improved SafetyLithium batteries for forklifts require less maintenance handling, making them a safer option. They are fully sealed and stable, eliminating concerns about corrosion, sulfurization, acid spills, or contamination. Additionally, the Battery Management System (BMS) can communicate with the forklift, providing information on battery status, such as discharge levels, visible on standard forklift displays. If any issues arise, error codes are shown, and in worst-case scenarios, the battery will safely shut down the forklift.

  5. Higher Efficiency and Lower CostsLithium battery-powered forklifts can be quickly charged within 1-3 hours, suitable for multi-shift operations. Immediate usage after charging eliminates the time and safety risks associated with battery replacement, providing robust power. Lithium-ion batteries offer consistent high power, unlike lead-acid batteries, whose power output declines with discharge. This ensures that electric forklifts can fully replace internal combustion forklifts in terms of power. Lead-acid batteries typically require 7-10 hours for an uninterrupted charge, affecting work efficiency. Considering the time and labor for maintenance and replacement costs, investing in lithium-ion batteries for forklifts is a prudent decision.

Usage Tips for Lithium Batteries

Avoid deep discharges, especially in winter when temperatures fall below zero degrees Celsius. Maintain 30% battery charge in cold conditions. If unable to charge in low temperatures, place the vehicle in a warmer environment, start with a low current charge, and the current will normalize as the temperature rises. Always use the original charger, as inferior chargers may damage the lithium battery pack or cause fires. If the charger malfunctions, contact the official supplier for a proper replacement to ensure charging quality.

By incorporating lithium batteries, electric forklifts become more efficient, safer, and cost-effective, marking a significant step forward in industrial vehicle technology and environmental sustainability.

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