The curse of batteries with electric powered forklifts

The world is attempting to become a greener place (with limited success). Battery powered forklifts, as opposed to internal combustion forklifts, make a lot of sense in this regard. Battery forklifts do not emit any emissions and consume less parts and lubricants.

Unfortunately, the lead acid batteries used in forklifts are prone to premature failure when not properly maintained and managed. This results in expensive replacements, typically R65 000 for an average lead acid battery.

Typically these lead acid batteries are abused in the following ways:

  • They get over-discharged i.e. they get run completely flat before being charged again.
  • Battery water levels are not monitored and the battery runs dry.
  • The battery gets charged for short periods instead of a full charge (typically overnight).
  • Too small a battery is used and is over worked.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to the lead acid battery in the form of Lithium Ion batteries. These Lithium batteries are not dissimilar to the ones found in mobile phones and electric cars. While more expensive than traditional lead acid batteries, they have many benefits:

  • They do not need battery water and are maintenance free.
  • Unlike lead acids they can be opportunity charged and this is in fact encouraged.
  • They can be charged in a quarter of the time of a lead acid battery.
  • They are safer as there are no emissions of hydrogen when being charged (unlike lead acid).
  • Double shifts are possible due to short charging times negating the need for a second battery.
  • They generally last significantly longer than the traditional lead acid batteries.

So there is a viable solution for the traditional battery headaches in the form of Lithium – long live the electric forklift.

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