Navitas Systems LLC (www.navitassys.com), a leading provider of heavy-duty lithium energy storage products for commercial, industrial and government/military customers, announced today that it has achieved the UL Recognition for its complete line-up of Starlifter 24 Volt, 36 Volt, and 48 Volt lithium forklift batteries for the Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 Lift Truck categories. This marks the first time that UL has concurrently tested and certified heavy duty Class 1 and Class 2 lithium batteries for forklifts.
“Testing this many large-amp-hour multi-voltage lithium forklift batteries required a unique approach” said Ibrahim Jilani, business development manager for UL’s Energy System and e-Mobility team. “We conducted numerous sophisticated tests in parallel and are very proud of the work that Navitas and UL have done to handle such a broad range of multi-kilowatt hour, multi-voltage packs comprised by the Starlifter lithium product family.”
The Navitas Starlifter line of batteries range up to 28 kilowatt hours and are optimized for the heavy-duty rigors of the much larger Class 1 Sit Down-Counterbalance lift trucks, Class 2 Reach trucks, and Class 3 Ride-on pallet trucks.
“Over my 30 year career in lithium batteries, I’ve overseen the submittal of over 50 batteries for UL testing” said Alan ElShafei, Chairman and Founder of Navitas Systems. “However, this Starlifter submittal was an order of magnitude more challenging. I’m very delighted by the skills exhibited by our engineering, testing and manufacturing teams, to develop such a robust safe lithium battery architecture which would survive the rigors of this gauntlet of strenuous testing, and pass with flying colors”. Under Mr. ElShafei’s leadership in the last 30 years, millions of batteries have been shipped with no recalls or fires, as design-for-safety is paramount.
The Starlifter product line now has UL 2580 recognition, which is a standard for testing of batteries for use in large electric vehicles. The Starlifter testing program conducted by UL involved a number of critical tests: Overcharge; Internal Short Circuit; Imbalance Charge; Shock; Crush; Nail Penetration; Thermal Abuse; Over discharge; Rotation, and Vibration. In addition to these tests, the Starlifter also demonstrated compliance to UL 1998 requirements for battery management software, and to UL 991 for hardware evaluation and test.
“We have achieved this significant result for a number of reasons” said Kevin Hykin, Navitas President and Chief Operating Officer. “First, having such a talented set of battery scientists and engineers from our prior acquisition of the Government Solutions division of A123 Systems—a group who have previously designed automotive and military batteries–enabled us to apply a systems approach from Day 1 of the Starlifter design which began back in early 2013. Second, we worked early on with several lift truck manufacturers to embed their key design requirements. And third, we invested heavily in the engineering of the larger Classes 1 & 2 as well as ride-on Class 3 lift truck batteries, as these market segments can justify the higher initial purchase cost with demonstrated material-handling productivity improvements and a strong return on investment”.
Commercial and government customers alike have for decades utilized lead acid batteries to power electric forklift trucks. While these batteries are relatively inexpensive to purchase, they suffer from a number of significant drawbacks including slow recharging, fading performance while discharging, constant maintenance, and productivity downtime when changing batteries. Given both the historical performance limitations of lead acid, combined with the increased prevalence of fast chargers and new power-hungry AC forklift motors, there is a strong need for a better battery solution, particularly in intensive two and three shift operations and in cold temperature warehouse environments. It is in these latter operations where Starlifter excels, demonstrating a yearly productivity gain of from 7-20% in pallets moved per shift, along with more than two times the cycle life of lead acid batteries, with a superior ability to rapidly recharge in about 1 hour; all resulting in a typical payback in under two years. Navitas Starlifter batteries have been tested by Fortune 100 customers in the last three years with robust performance results.
“Navigant Research expects that in the coming decade, Li-ion batteries will be the advanced electric technology of choice for traction energy in forklifts, beating out advanced lead-acid batteries and fuel cells” said Ian McClenny, energy analyst at Navigant Research. “The value Li-ion batteries create with their fast-charging capabilities uniquely positions them over traditional powertrains and can help increase factory throughput. Forklifts powered by Li-ion batteries also help increase on-the-job safety and eliminate bulky charging infrastructure necessary for other battery types. This helps improve operating efficiency, especially when used for multiple shifts per day or for cold storage operations.”
Navitas will be showcasing its family of Starlifter lithium forklift batteries next month, June 14-15, in its booth #5615 at the Global Cold Chain Exposition (http://www.globalcoldchainexpo.org/) in Chicago, Illinois, where food industry executives share relevant information, identify critical issues, discuss key topics, and increase their awareness of storage and distribution of perishable items. Navitas already has Starlifter deployments in top food distribution companies, as Starlifter enjoys a 40% runtime advantage of lead acid in cold temperatures typically found within these distribution companies. A recently concluded two-year study funded by the State of New York (NYSERDA) to have Raymond Corporation and Navitas Systems test Starlifter at independent test labs as well as at a major New York food distributor showed that the Starlifter-powered lift truck yielded a 17% improvement in pallets moved per hour compared to a lead acid powered lift truck in an intensive three shift operation within a cold temperature food warehouse.