Harold Vanasse is senior director of marketing, motive power Americas for EnerSys, a global leader in stored energy solutions for industrial applications.
What is a hybrid power approach?
For over a century, industrial vehicle power was dependent on one battery technology: traditional flooded lead acid. While flooded lead acid batteries have earned their reputation as a robust power source and remain to be an effective solution of forklift power to this day, they are complex and labour-intensive. Now, with added battery chemistries available to the market, we're seeing a change in how varied power sources are being utilised for different applications within the same warehouse or distribution centre (DC).
Incorporating varied battery chemistries, including Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) and Lithium-ion (Li-ion), in different applications in the same facility, operators can take a hybrid approach to power - a methodology that provides an assortment of benefits that can result in an overall lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
The future is virtually maintenance-free power
When it comes to successful forklift operations, battery technology is at the centre of innovation. Although traditional flooded lead acid batteries still represent a major portion of the marketshare, they require maintenance, including watering, cleaning and changing.
Fleet operators are looking for simplified, hassle-free and dependable power. Today, there are effective, virtually maintenance-free battery options on the market that are uniquely engineered with advanced technology to deliver premium results for a variety of industrial applications - no matter how big or small the operation.
TPPL battery technology provides reliable power without the restrictive upkeep requirements of watering, battery cleaning or long equalise charges tied to conventional flooded lead acid batteries. Optimised for fast- and opportunity-charging, TPPL technology is ideal for light- to medium-duty applications. These batteries have the ability to deliver more power than conventional flooded lead acid batteries in up to 30% less space due to their unique thin plate construction.
Lithium-ion solutions have had powered applications within the realm of aerospace and defence for years, and that wealth of knowledge has been applied to develop a Li-ion power solution for the materials handling industry. It's taking a chemical composition that in the past has been a generally small footprint battery, used for smaller electronics, and bringing it to a much larger scale and format to power industrial lift truck vehicles.
Compared to other traditional flooded lead acid power alternatives, Li-ion enables better capacity, longer cycle life and faster, more efficient charging - all of which contribute to a lower TCO. They are the ideal solution for powering heavy-duty applications as they are built to sustain high shock and vibration. Similar to batteries with advanced TPPL technology, Li-ion batteries do not require watering, battery change outs or the need for additional battery rooms, further reducing maintenance, labor and space/footprint costs.
It's all about simple, productive and predictable power - and both TPPL and Li-ion technologies offer that and much more.
Today, fleet operators have a variety of choices that, when implemented properly, can be uniquely tailored to deliver optimal productivity across DC operations. A hybrid power approach that includes a combination of TPPL and Li-ion technology can provide a virtually maintenance-free environment that can lead owners down a path toward a lower TCO.