10 Jul Lithium Ion Battery – The Pros and Cons
Lithium Ion Battery has quickly become a buzzword in the material handling world. In an industry that has long remained true to its roots, lithium ion batteries are a signifier of all the innovation coming to warehouses and distribution centers across the globe.
But the technology is far from widespread yet. It remains an ideal solution primarily for large fleets and high usage fleets running two or three shifts. Operations running single shifts or with a smaller fleets are unlikely to see the cost benefits of a larger outfit.
The appeal of Lithium Ion Batteries lies in their promise of increased efficiency and productivity. According to Harold Vanesse of Enersys, these batteries are designed to “take away the pain points” (DC Velocity, June 2019, “Power Play,” pg 41). Just take Enersys’s NexSys iON lithium-ion batteries for example. They boast increased productivity, reduced downtime, maximized facility space, minimized maintenance, and more. Watch the latest video by Enersys on their NexSys product at the video to the right.
But the shininess and newness of a technology doesn’t mean it’s without its downfalls. Before hopping on the Lithium Ion Battery bandwagon, take a look at the pros and cons of the product. While the benefits are hard to dispute, there are still some potential drawbacks to consider. Whether you ultimately utilize Lithium Ion Batteries or not, it’s important to be in the know on the latest industry tech and innovation.
- Zero Maintenance – Lithium Ion Batteries don’t require watering like lead-acid counterparts, nearly eliminating maintenance needs
- Reduced Space and Labor Needs – Because of it’s zero maintenance you gain back watering space and personnel time with Lithium Ion Batteries
- Faster Charging – Lithium Ion Batteries charge significantly faster than their lead-acid counter parts
- Longer Run Time – Lithium Ion Batteries eliminate the need to charge at each shift
- Longer Life – Lithium Ion Batteries boast over twice the life of lead-acid batteries
- Reduced Energy Use – Lithium Ion Batteries require less power to charge to completion and also don’t have to be charged as frequently thereby reducing energy use and cost
- Cost – Lithium Ion Batteries cost 3x more than their lead-acid counterparts on average
- Equipment Connection – Current forklifts are not designed for lithium ion batteries. Forklifts must often be modified to fit the new batteries. While more and more equipment is coming on the scene that is designed for lithium ion batteries, most today still is not.
- Still Require Inspection – Despite their zero maintenance claim, Lithium Ion Batteries still require periodic inspection of cables, terminals, etc.
- End of Life – Lithium Ion Batteries’ end of life cycle is not as straight forward as that of lead-acid batteries. While 99% of lead-acid batteries are recycled, only 5% of Lithium Ion Batteries are. And lead-acid batteries are less costly to recycle than Lithium Ion because most manufacturers factor recycling costs into the price of the product.
Always take the time explore the benefits of innovation in your facility’s use-case prior to making a purchase. Consider bringing in an expert consultant to review your operational needs and facility limitations before moving forward with new tech. While Lithium Ion Batteries boast many benefits primarily in efficiency and productivity, it may not be the right choice for your application, or it may not be the best option right now but could be a good consideration for next steps as you advance your facility.
We recommend scheduling a facility walk-through and consultation before making any purchasing decisions. Always make decisions on new tech with your operation’s needs in mind.
Sources: Kickham, Victoria. DC Velocity, June 2019. “Power Play.” 41-43.