Forklift users switching from LPG to lithium-ion


Operators of LP Gas-powered warehouse trucks are increasingly switching to lithium-ion battery-powered alternatives as they look to maximize truck up-time, drive down running costs, reduce operational noise levels and eliminate exhaust emissions within their buildings.

That is the view of John Maguire managing director of Narrow Aisle Ltd – manufacturer of the Flexi range of articulated VNA forklifts.

John Maguire says: “LP Gas is costly and linked to global oil prices, and from an operational point of view, the time taken to change or fill each gas bottle means that truck downtime can be a problem for some high utilisation customers.

“In addition, the control systems and catalytic converters required to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide emission from LPG engines add significantly to a truck’s operating costs, so it’s easy to see why many warehouse operators consider lithium-ion powered trucks to be a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to LPG machines. Indeed, according to recent research, 78 per cent of lift truck operators stated that they will consider lithium-ion when the time comes for their next forklift acquisition.”

Narrow Aisle Ltd launched the Flexi LiTHiON range of lithium-ion powered articulated warehouse trucks two years ago and the trucks have become a popular choice among a wide range of customer groups who need the rapid charge and multi-shift availability provided by lithium power without the storage and time consuming change-over issues associated with LP Gas bottles.

John Maguire says: “The Flexi LiTHiON range is clean, quiet, powerful efficient and easy to drive and is proving to be a highly popular product with third party logistics service suppliers and manufacturers with warehouses looking to achieve maximum supply chain efficiency.”

The fully integrated Flexi lithium-ion system requires zero maintenance and delivers extended multi-shift availability – making models in the Flexi LiTHiON collection the ideal ‘green’ energy solution for modern order fulfillment operations, temperature controlled stores, chemical stores and automotive manufacturing facilities.

With all drive, hydraulic and power-steering functions digitally controlled and integrated with the battery’s advanced software systems, the Flexi LiTHiON is able to perform at full power throughout a typical shift with no drop off in performance levels. This ability to distribute consistent power levels, means maximum efficiency is achieved even during the busiest multi-shift operation.

The truck monitors the battery function constantly and reports the battery status in real time – and the combination of fully integrated digital motors and lithium-ion power is so effective when it comes to eliminating wasted power that truck availability is typically increased by 25 per cent every day.

Models in Narrow Aisle’s Flexi LiTHiON range are some 30 per cent quieter than, for example, models of the same type powered by LP Gas with PTO steering and can etain the ability to operate safely and efficiently in aisles as narrow as 1.6 metres wide and can lift loads weighing up to 2.5 kg and to heights of 14 metres.

Like all models in the Flexi range, they feature the well known easy to drive ‘True Radius’chasis technology that allows the truck’s mast to rotate through 220 degrees smoothly. True Radius functionality makes Flexis particularly straightforward to operate and has been proved to significantly reduce rack or product damage compared with any reach truck-serviced warehouse.

John Maguire adds: “For any multi-shift operation, switching from LPG to lithium-ion-powered materials handling equipment really is a ‘no-brainer’.

“A lithium-ion battery can be fully charged in under an hour and provides consistent voltage – which means they don’t slow down the machine as they discharge. And, because they do not emit any exhaust gases, they are a better option for the working environment.”