[Johannesburg, 25 May 2021]: Although lithium-ion has become the buzzword in battery technology for electric materials handling equipment, Goscor Lift Truck Company believes it is not the ‘holy grail’ for every application. As a leader in this segment, the company works hand in hand with customers to offer customer- and application-specific energy solutions. 

One of the growing trends in the forklift industry is the move towards battery-powered technology, especially the growing preference for lithium-ion. In fact, the forklift/lift truck industry has for years been the leader in ‘green’ solutions and with renewed focus from the automotive sector on electric vehicles, the development of alternative energy sources and batteries will escalate to new levels.

Lithium-ion batteries are widely considered to be the technological future in the sector, especially when it comes to powering materials handling equipment. While in the last few years these batteries have emerged as the potential successor to the more commonly used lead-acid batteries, Goscor Lift Truck Company (GLTC) believes that they may not necessarily be the only solution to every customer and application.

As one of the first-to-market with tailor-made lithium-ion solutions and electric solutions at large, GLTC advises its customers that, before making any decisions on the battery technology that’s best for them, it’s always best to fully compare all the relevant information and alternatives, in partnership with the supplier, to help make the most informed decision that is suited for the application at hand.

“As a market leader in this space, we work closely with customers to offer an energy solution that is suited to their specific application. We consult very closely with the customer to ensure that whatever they choose is tailored to their requirements,” says GLTC sales director Patrick Barber, adding that the company offers different lift truck energy options, including lithium-ion, lead-acid and copper stretched metal (CSM).

Lithium-ion

Barber says the company has been testing this technology for more than two years on some sites. A key differentiator for GLTC is that its lithium-ion offering is customer- and application-specific.

Although there is a big drive to push lithium-ion into the market Barber says, it may not necessarily suit every application. The only way to get the best out of a lithium-ion investment, he adds, is to do a customised solution based on utilisation, frequency of charging and the size of equipment, among other parameters. Based on that understanding, GLTC believes if offering bespoke solutions that meet each customer’s needs.

GLTC has scaled up its lithium-ion range, offering both imported and locally-manufactured alternatives. The two options are for normal ambient applications such as manufacturing plants and warehousing, as well as low ambient, cold room environments where productivity is principal.

“Lithium-ion covers a wide range of battery systems with different chemical compositions. Because there are many different varieties of lithium ion out there and the fact that the technology is constantly developing, we believe that whatever we offer to the customer should be application specific,” he says.

One of the applications where GLTC has seen a quick uptake of its lithium-ion solution is in cold storage. In extremely cold conditions, lithium-ion forklift batteries offer the benefit of fast-charging and maintenance of their capacity better than their lead-acid counterparts.

“We are the only energy provider in the local market that can provide lithium-ion batteries for extreme cold room conditions to -30⁰C. We also have variable charging options that come with these solutions, allowing for varied charging times from an hour up to five hours, depending on client requirements,” says Barber.

One of the known downsides of lithium-ion at this stage is the high price. However, GLTC has put together attractive financing packages to help customers access this technology. “We have a tailor-made finance package for each customer, depending on their needs and profile. This not only makes lithium-ion accessible in terms of pricing, but also speaks to how confident we are in the technologies that we are putting into the market,” says Barber.

Lead-acid

Lead-acid batteries have existed for more than 100 years, but they should not be dismissed as outdated technology. These batteries still remain relevant in some of the tasks, says Barber. For example, anyone using their forklift in a single-shift operation, has plenty of time to charge or change batteries and is not afraid of regular maintenance, will still be able to work well with conventional lead-acid batteries for some time.

The batteries have a long track record of being robust and reliable, and still remain the main battery of choice in the industry.

CSM

GLTC believes it is the only company in the country offering a solution that sits between lithium-ion and lead-acid – copper stretched metal (CSM). This solution has been well received in bottling applications and manufacturing environments. It is ideally suited for multi-shift applications with one battery through fast and opportunity charging, as well as seasonal business with high activity peaks.

Informed decision

In conclusion, Barber says that in order to take a truly informed decision on which battery system is the best for a specific application, customers should carefully examine the various systems and technologies. “Each system has its own particular advantages in certain applications, and that’s where our expertise comes in,” concludes Barber.