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The first-ever UL-listed advanced lithium ion batteries for forklifts began rolling off the production line at the Flux Power plant in Vista, California, on Monday, May 16. The new batteries, which some industry observers have predicted could replace most lead-acid batteries in the not-so-distant future.
Prestigious UL Approval
While lithium-ion batteries have been powering forklifts for years, those being produced at the Flux Power plant feature more advanced engineering — so advanced that they have for the first time ever received the approval of Underwriters Laboratories, according to Ron Dutt, the company’s CEO.
“After more than two years of development, testing, and customer piloting, production of UL listed LiFT Packs commenced last week following completion of our model changeover efforts related to production, documentation, and quality control,” Dutt said in a company news release. “This is a significant milestone as many of our larger customers had requested that we secure UL listing prior to their consideration of larger scale deployments.”
Six Months in the Making
In order to get UL approval, Flux Power had to perform a complete reimagining of its lithium-ion batteries, as well as subject them to rigorous testing — a process that took more than six months.
“UL listing involved a comprehensive product improvement process that yielded a remarkably enhanced line, particularly in the areas of durability and reliability,” Dutt said. “Thes improvements are vital to ensuring customer satisfaction with our packs which are subject to the punishing operating environments of suspension-less walkie pallet jacks.”
Currently, Vista plant is building only about 100 of the new batteries per month. But by the end of the year, the company hopes to double that monthly production.
The new “green” batteries could replace lead-acid battery technology in walkie pallet jacks, forklifts, and other vehicles widely used in warehouses, docks and manufacturing facilities worldwide.
Different Forklift Battery Types
Currently, there are five types of batteries used in forklifts: Nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, lead acid, lithium ion, and lithium ion polymer.
Lead-acid batteries are the most popular because they are economical, recyclable and low maintenance.
But lead-acid batteries can’t be stored in a discharged condition, have poor weight-to-energy density that limits their use to stationary or wheeled applications, and offers a limited number of full discharge cycles. it is environmentally unfriendly because the electrolyte and lead in it can cause environmental damage and there are concerns that the battery will leak if involved in an accident, and thermal runaway can occur if the battery is not properly charged.
Lead-acid batteries also are considered by many to be environmentally unfriendly because the electrolyte and lead in it can cause environmental damage. There also are concerns that the battery will leak if involved in an accident, and thermal runaway can occur if the battery is not properly charged.