With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, the material handling industry has been affected in many ways by the surge of demand for essential products. With the future of some companies up in the air, companies are reassessing their operational costs, processes, resources, and equipment. At HAWKER®, we have seen customers reevaluating their industrial batteries to find the most cost-effective option for their forklifts and other material handling equipment.

There’s no question that lithium-ion batteries are slowly changing the landscape of motive power. Lithium-ion batteries have garnered an increasing amount of attention over the last several years. However, as with all new technology and developments, the lithium-ion battery has advantages and disadvantages that need to be properly assessed.

Before switching to “new and improved” energy sources such as lithium-ion, companies in the material handling industry should have a thorough understanding of the latest technology advancements and a clear understanding of all the options they have for motive power.

Three Things to Consider When Deciding if Lithium-Ion Batteries are Right for You

1. Equipment Compatibility

Deciding what is best for your fleet takes research, data, and knowledge. If you’re looking to make a change in your forklifts, electric pallet jacks, stackers, burden carriers or other material handling machinery, then you need to evaluate what motive power source will increase your productivity, and which is the most compatible with your current equipment. If your equipment would require conversion parts or CAN bus communication, it is important to assess those costs as well as the cost of the upgraded technology.

2. Charging and Maintenance

One benefit of lithium-ion batteries is being able to opportunity charge at very high currents, or the ability to charge intermittently throughout the day. Additionally, there is little to no maintenance required for a lithium battery. “Lithium-ion has a very high energy density and is essentially maintenance-free, which is very advantageous for customers,” says Marty Srog, Director of Operations for HAWKER®. “A consideration should be made for the required infrastructure to charge batteries at higher rates with chargers that have higher output.”

3. Battery Life

Lithium-ion technology provides many advantages and is always improving. Two key factors that have specifically been a focus of development are battery life and safety. 

To ensure that these batteries are kept in their safe operating limits, HAWKER® has incorporated advanced circuitry in the form of a battery management system (BMS). This modern integrated technology continuously monitors items such as the battery’s cells, state of charge (SoC), overall health, and thermal load to safely provide optimum power and efficiency. Additionally, the BMS is paired with a CAN bus controller which communicates all battery information to the battery charger, the lift truck, and external network monitoring systems. Multiple levels of safety have been employed into the development and operation of the HAWKER® lithium-ion battery.

All of the HAWKER®lithium-ion batteries are designed with the highest standards and safety redundancies using ISO 26262 ASIL C to be CE and UL 2580 and EN 1175 compliant. 

And last but not least, HAWKER® uses the highest quality cells available to negate the need for active balancing, which is an indication of lower quality cells.

These features combined, result in our lithium-ion battery lasting 40% longer than a traditional lead-acid battery – which equates to an outstanding life.

The HAWKER FLEX® LiBattery 

HAWKER® has been hard at work, producing a premium lithium-ion battery product. Our FLEX® Li3 battery is ideal for heavy use applications; but specifically those customers with multi-shift operations and known maintenance issues. Its modular design enables scalability for future additional capacity making sure it will grow with your operation, not hinder it. Having this flexibility allows a customer to choose the required power without paying for more than they need.

“As a solutions provider, we have the broadest product portfolio range. We work hard to separate ourselves from the competition by striving to continuously introduce new technology that streamlines our customers’ workload,” says Marty Srog. “We’re excited about our FLEX® Li3 lithium battery, and as always, continue to develop and launch the best motive power solutions since 1982.”