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Lithium-Ion Batteries: An Easy Cell

By: Ioanna Gavrielatou, Contributor

Lithium-ion batteries can be recharged quickly, which reduces downtime and accommodates more work shifts. Photo courtesy of SUNLIGHT

The exponential growth of ecommerce has driven demand in the materials handling and logistics sector to unprecedented levels. In the U.S. alone, ecommerce is expected to account for 26% of all sales by 2025, with online revenues jumping $330 billion between 2020 and 2025. Online consumers expect products to be delivered in a timely manner, so the pressure is on to keep higher inventory levels and operate with increased speed and efficiency to address demand.

Additionally, compared to traditional warehouse operations, ecommerce uses roughly three times the labor with around four times the turnover rates. Given the high demand, efficiency is critical and warehouse operators need to make the most of every tool at their disposal to service a demanding and rapidly growing market without decimating their budget. One of these tools is lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries have evolved from the high capital expenditure of the past. Increase in demand for lithium in the e-motive market has greatly improved their commercial viability for manufacturers and buyers alike. Moreover, the relevant market is expected to continue growing at an annual rate of 15.7% until 2027. And as the global market expands, upfront costs go down.

Improving productivity

With greater demand-driven availability and lower upfront costs, lithium-ion batteries can contribute to improving productivity. Which, in turn, can benefit the industrial vehicle sector, as warehouse efficiency can be bolstered by the high energy density and quick recharge times of modern lithium-ion batteries. Most alternatives require backups because of lengthy recharge periods, but advanced lithium-ion batteries do not, thereby reducing costs and storage space. In addition, lithium-ion solutions do not need to be placed in ventilated charging areas to remove gases released during recharge, as do lead-acid batteries. Therefore, switching to lithium-ion frees up valuable space and eliminates additional costs, while lithium technology also reduces idle times and accommodates more work shifts.

Lithium-ion batteries are also easier to improve and maintain, as several procedures associated with lead-acid batteries are not required at all. This improves battery lifecycle and further reduces operating costs. Innovative Battery Monitoring Systems (BMS) track the state of charge of battery cells, while Active Balancing modes can be employed in both the charging and discharging cycle. This allows for equal flow and receipt of energy between lithium-ion cells, so they maintain a consistent voltage level, thus greatly increasing the system’s longevity. Batteries from established and trusted manufacturers can utilize these types of applications to achieve batteries with 4,500 recharge cycles – i.e., the number of times a battery can be charged and discharged. Long-term, these improvements result in greater returns on investment, offsetting the slightly increased initial costs of lithium-ion batteries compared to lead-acid ones.

Lithium-ion batteries also assist in the more accurate monitoring of performance and efficiency. Warehouse management systems (WMS) integration enables operators to monitor the batteries and pre-empt the occurrence of any issue. Hence, warehouse managers should look for manufacturers that incorporate standard cloud access, as multi-directional communication via Wi-Fi and 5G via cloud allows engineers to remotely access batteries to shut down a damaged module or increase charge to reduce unnecessary downtime associated with faulty or low power machinery.

The boom in demand for ecommerce has placed increased pressure on global supply chains and the logistics sector, but it is also having a positive effect on the equipment used to fulfil increased demand – driving down the cost of improved lithium-ion batteries. This in turn is helping accelerate product innovation in ways which greatly improve both functionality and long-term performance. A company’s overall productivity can be significantly boosted by the correct battery choice; and by assessing operational demands at the point of purchase, it’s possible to achieve improved performance, as well as power storage abilities. WMHS

Ioanna Gavrielatou is Marketing Director at SUNLIGHT, a technology company that produces integrated and innovative energy storage solutions in its plants in Greece, Italy and U.S. For the past 12 years SUNLIGHT has been heavily investing in lithium-focused R&D to develop innovative applications, including the high-performing Li.ON Force range of batteries (www.systems-sunlight.com).

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