Thursday, March 11, 2021

Articulated Fork Truck Manufacturer Switches Gas for Electric Only

Warehouses Will be Colder Places as Lithium Batteries Take Over
Shipping News Feature

UK – Those working in logistics warehouses henceforth may find they need a new, warmer wardrobe, with the news that Narrow Aisle Ltd, manufacturer of the iconic Flexi range of articulated forklift trucks, is to cease production of LP Gas-powered Flexi models, turning (presumably very tightly) instead to electric only.

During a British winter the fumes from the busy fork truck fleet running around the store are often the main source of warmth for those working inside but a switch to battery power is bound to lower the temperature by a few degrees whilst making the air more breahable. It is understood that Narrow Aisle is the first manufacturer in its sector to drop LPG-powered articulated trucks from its product portfolio, a move made as part of its corporate responsibility towards the environment.

The company is focusing on the further development and production of battery-powered trucks with emphasis on lithium-ion technology which, Narrow Aisle believe, is ideally suited to the needs of modern, 24/7 logistics and e-fulfilment operations. John Maguire, managing director of Narrow Aisle Ltd, commented:

“As a company Narrow Aisle has pledged to operate in the most environmentally responsible way possible. Lithium-ion-powered trucks match the performance of LPG types but without the drawbacks of high fuel costs, noise and emissions, maintenance downtime and increasing legislation issues.

“The move towards battery-powered vehicles is gathering pace in the automotive industry and we are delighted to be taking a lead within our sector of the materials handling industry by announcing this elimination of LPG-powered Flexi trucks. As electric drive technology continues to evolve and modern flexible power sources such as lithium-ion have become established, we see it as essential that we constantly rethink our product offering.”

Historically a popular fuel source for IC-engine lift trucks, sales of LPG forklifts have been in decline for a number of years due in part to concerns over workers’ health and the wider environmental impact of engine emissions. The cost of running LPG truck fleets in comparison with materials handling equipment driven by advanced battery electric technology, has also contributed significantly to the fall-off in demand for LPG forklifts. John Maguire continued:

“The control systems and catalytic converters required to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from LPG emissions add significantly to a truck’s operating costs. Furthermore, there are many differing emission control and operating noise level standards and rules across the world which make the manufacture and operation of engine powered tracks more and more difficult in many markets.

“The Flexi LiTHiON range above all provides immediate availability but is also clean, quiet, powerful and easy to drive. It is proving to be a highly popular product with third party logistics and e-fulfillment specialists as well as manufacturers with warehouses who are looking to achieve maximum supply chain efficiency.

“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 trucks do not slow down as the battery discharges. And, they do not emit any exhaust gases, which is clearly better for the working environment.”

Narrow Aisle launched its first lithium-ion-powered Flexi model in 2018 since which time Flexi LiTHiON models have become a popular choice among a wide range of customer groups. The fully integrated Flexi lithium-ion system requires zero maintenance and delivers extended multi-shift availability, which Maguire says makes such models the ideal ‘green’ energy solution at lower overall life costs than a LPG truck.

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 the whole day with no drop off in performance levels. This ability to distribute consistent power at any time 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 that Narrow Aisle claims truck availability is typically increased by 25% every day, and no more frozen hands if a bottle change is needed!

The more compact size of the LiTHiON truck means it has the ability to operate safely and efficiently in aisles as narrow as 1.6 metres wide. It can lift loads weighing up to 2,500 kilogrammes to heights of 14 metres and is offered with a range of chassis and lift mast options to suit any application. In addition Narrow Aisle is offering a free consultancy service to users of all makes of LPG-powered articulated forklift trucks to identify the range of benefits they would derive by switching to lithium-ion battery power.