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Material Handling Insights

Aug 17, 2017 10:05:00 AM // 3 min read

Reducing Energy Costs by Choosing the Correct Battery Technology

By Gus Whyte
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This is the first in a series of four articles from Hoppecke UK this month, which focus on batteries and the areas you need to consider if opting for battery-powered equipment.

Energy costs are rising all the time and it is imperative that businesses not only understand these costs, but take action to reduce them.

Transport company fleet managers can tell you their fuel costs to a number of decimal points. However, ask them how much it costs to recharge their fork truck batteries and few can answer this question. Over the past few years, little improvement has been made in the basic efficiency of lead-acid batteries. New battery technologies have been proposed with lithium-ion as the most talked about product, but the initial purchase cost of this technology makes these batteries difficult to justify. The cost to recharge these batteries is also still high as lithium-ion batteries are lower in capacity than lead-acid, and rely on regular high amperage recharges to equal or improve on the capacity available from the lead-acid technology.

The efficiency of lead-acid batteries and the reduction of operating costs has been achieved through the introduction of smart high-frequency charging and air circulation battery technologies.

High-frequency chargers are much more efficient than transformer chargers, which have traditionally been used. The efficiency of high-frequency chargers can reduce the use of mains electricity by up to 20% over the transformer charger. When air circulation is added to the battery and high-frequency charger package, a further 11% energy reduction can be achieved, making electrical savings of 31% over the standard battery and transformer charger package.

When you consider the use of mains electricity to recharge a counterbalance fork truck with a traditional battery and charger package to use around 48 Kw units per charge, then at a cost of 10 pence per Kw unit one charge costs £4.80. If you charge this battery six times per week for 51 weeks, costs would be £1,468.80 per year and £7,344.00 over a five-year contract. Savings of 31% would give your business £2276.64 per battery across five years of use.    

Because the battery is not overcharged to remove the stratification of the electrolyte, the requirement for battery filling is reduced from once every two weeks to every ten weeks. Reduced costs for labour and deionised water offer further substantial savings.

Over and above these savings, the high-frequency air circulation chargers have a built-in management system which adjusts the charge during its cycle to ensure the best possible and most efficient recharge is delivered to the battery. This greatly reduces the gases produced and also the batteries' temperature.

As increased temperature and battery overfilling are the two main causes for reduced battery life, the use of the smart high-frequency air circulation package will not only improve your day-to-day efficiency but improve batteries' life expectancy.

An electric fork truck relies on an efficient battery package to ensure a reliable and cost-effective operation. Be sure to understand the real cost of operating your material handling investment.

Want to find out more about choosing the right battery for your operation? Speak to your local dealer today. Click here to enquire.