While industrial motor power batteries, such as for forklifts and other material handling machinery, may look similar, their technical specifications vary from battery to battery. Every host machinery has standard voltage and amp-hour capacity requisites that industrial batteries must comply with. Nonetheless, industrial battery prices notably differentiate across brands because of differences in battery management system (BMS) functionality and factors contributing to the entire battery package. These factors include delivery, installation, forklift and charger integration options, and servicing availability.
What gives cheaper batteries their ability to remain cheap amidst labor costs?
When the supply volume is high, international labor can inflict a low price when the US retail market sells these products. However, operators in the forklift lithium battery market find longer lead times and transportation costs are balancing out the advantage of a large supply volume.
A BMS plays a significant role in the lifecycle of a lithium battery. An advanced BMS is responsible for providing diagnostic data about a battery and regulating the charge and discharge of battery cells. In essence, an advanced system will maintain the state of a lithium battery and prevent degradation. A basic-level BMS will not work for advanced operations, such as for forklifts from Linde Material Handling, because its manufacturer has not optimized it for material handling activities. As such, the retail price will be lower, but the battery may cause issues for their users.
Installing a forklift battery is no easy feat as it requires a second forklift, crane, or other material handling machinery to detach the old battery and install the new battery. On top of positioning, a trained technician must perform electrical tests on the battery to ensure it operates properly and safely. Although a battery may cost less when purchased overseas, domestic battery costs usually include installation and setup fees.
Downtime costs typically result from an overseas purchase of an industrial battery. Charges from equipment rentals and business operation downtime drive up the total price of an inexpensive internet purchase. Still, a local purchase includes the cost of the battery, installation, and setup minus an extended downtime.
A Demonstration of “In-House” Servicing Versus Outsourcing Transactions
John Perazzo, regional manager and leading expert of the local service station for industrial batteries, demonstrated the importance of needing a local service station for industrial batteries. A customer in San Francisco requested a replacement battery for a 2.5-ton electric forklift only to find an offer that was $2,000 less off the internet.
The customer received his replacement battery the following month. However, the customer could not replace the old battery because his forklift was dead, and he did not have a spare forklift to do the job. To counter this situation, he paid $450 to install the new battery, which was an issue the customer could have avoided if he had initially accepted offer. Originally, proposal included delivery and installation of the new battery and disposal of the old battery.
Ninety days passed, and the consumer had to contact the manufacturer for a replacement cell because one of the battery cells failed. With no one else to look to, he paid of $450 to install the cell.
In the meantime, the customer did not have a working forklift while it was servicing the battery. To combat downtime costs, he rented one for $900.
John Perazzo concluded that because his proposal was $2,000 over what the customer wanted to pay, he purchased a battery online but suffered timewise.
How can operators decide on a battery economically?
Operators must be able to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a new battery. If they buy one off the internet, they may not be able to find readily available support if something goes awry. The machinists may have to rent a forklift and experience some downtime, resulting in unwanted expenses. If they purchase one from a nearby vendor, they can have the battery installed right away and get assistance whenever they need it.