Demanding, high-intensity applications have historically depended on lift trucks with internal combustion engines (ICEs), due to their consistent power delivery and high performance. However, the motive power landscape is shifting with lithium-ion batteries gaining traction in both heavy-duty lift truck applications and distribution centres.
Lithium-ion power sources are now capable of delivering the long-lasting, high performance that intensive lift truck applications require. While traditional ICE or lead acid battery powered forklifts may still be the best fit for some jobs, more applications than ever are suitable candidates for electrification.
In this blog, the experts from Hyster share 4 signs that it’s time to make a change in your heavy-duty material handling operations.
For more guidance, download our FREE Hyster lift truck power whitepaper here.
1 . Demanding conditions
Extreme environments can result in wear leading to a spike in equipment downtime and productivity bottlenecks. To manage this risk, operations should explore power sources that are proven to perform in the harshest environments.
Historically, ICE lift trucks have been the tried-and-tested option for demanding outdoor applications. But electric trucks can handle tough temperatures and outdoor operation too. For example, lithium-ion batteries offer superior performance in hot and cold environments, helping lift trucks run reliably and consistently over multiple shifts, whatever the weather.
2. Finding and retaining labour
Lift truck operators are in short supply making working environment key to retention. Electric-powered lift trucks produce less noise than their IC counterparts and transmit fewer vibrations to the operator, offering a smoother ride. They also do not emit harmful exhaust, improving air quality and creating a cleaner work environment.
Difficulty finding and retaining labour can force companies to hire employees with limited experience operating forklifts. This lack of experience could potentially increase safety hazards when handling and charging lead-acid or changing LPG bottles. Plus, unmotivated or unhappy operators may have poor charging habits, leading to shorter battery life over time.
Newer power sources, like lithium-ion batteries, typically require less maintenance and less charging time in a shift, so you can make the best use of the operators you have.
3. Maintenance costs
80% of the total cost of a forklift comes after the initial capital investment, so it’s important to understand the maintenance requirements for each power option.
ICE power means a whole host of powertrain items that require periodic service or replacement, including fluid, filters, spark plugs, belts, or other items prone to wear.
Electric powertrains offer greater simplicity and fewer service items. Lead acid batteries do require some maintenance and additional processes to ensure they perform to their potential, but hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries offer a simpler approach. Lithium-ion batteries are maintenance free and can be plugged in without any special pre- or post-charging steps.
4 . Sustainability
Various regulations across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa are putting pressure on industries, such as Ports and Terminals, to reduce their environmental impact.
For managers charged with finding ways to meet those targets, reducing emissions from ICE-powered lift trucks can provide environmental benefits related to emissions. Also, lead-acid batteries require off-gassing as part of the charging process and carry the risk of potential acid leak and corrosion – newer power options like lithium-ion batteries do not come with these characteristics.
Powering your possibilities for electrification – even in heavy duty applications
Lithium-ion batteries started small, simply powering pallet trucks. However, Hyster lift trucks carrying heavy loads in harsh conditions can now be powered by lithium-ion batteries with performance that operations previously expected only from an ICE-powered truck.
Your local Hyster distribution partner is also ready to advise on your electrification needs with tough Hyster electric big trucks for heavy-duty applications.