Powering the future of industrial cleaning: What makes Li-ion batteries the premier choice?

In the world of industrial cleaning, three attributes are vital: efficiency, reliability, and sustainability. One technology that has ticked all boxes is the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery.

On this page, we'll be looking at why Li-ion batteries stand above the alternatives for powering industrial cleaning machines. We'll also explain why switching to Li-ion is an important step forward for industrial cleaning businesses looking to embrace the future of this sector.

The limitations of traditional batteries

Before we can understand why Li-ion batteries represent the best choice for industrial cleaning machines, we must understand the limitations of traditional batteries. Lead-acid batteries and Ni-MH batteries have long been the industry standard for the powering of industrial equipment, including cleaning machines. However, these battery types come with several limitations that hinder performance and operational efficiency.

1. Weight and size: Lead-acid batteries are known for being large, adding unnecessary size and weight to industrial cleaning machines. This lowers manoeuvrability, increases the risk of damage to cleaning equipment and other items, and restricts accessibility in tight spaces.

2. Limited lifespan: Lead-acid and Ni-MH batteries both suffer from quick capacity fade, especially when used in deep cycles. This means the battery will store less and less energy over time, leading to a decrease in runtime. When combined with their slow charging, these batteries suffer from lots of downtime, which damages productivity and operational effectiveness. What's more, the shorter lifespan means more frequent replacements, increasing costs.

3. Excessive maintenance: Lead-acid batteries require long charging in specially designated areas, plus they need regular maintenance, such as fluid level monitoring, electrolyte top-ups, and equalisation charging.

The advantages of Li-ion batteries

The time of lead-acid and Ni-MH batteries is coming to an end, with Li-ion batteries offering many advantages. But what are the advantages that make Li-ion batteries the best choice for industrial cleaning machines?

1. Higher energy density: Li-ion batteries have high energy density, meaning they can store more energy in a smaller and lighter package than lead-acid and Ni-MH batteries. Whereas lead-acid cells can store 30-50 Wh/kg, LFP Li-ion batteries can store up to four times as much, while LFP Li-ion have storage of up to five times that offered by lead-acid.

This means Li-ion batteries run for longer, with less downtime needed for recharging, plus their lower weight offers better manoeuvrability.

2. Longer lifespan: Unlike lead-acid and Ni-MH batteries, Li-ion batteries do not suffer from the memory effect - a process during which other battery types lose their ability to store as much energy - and have a long lifespan even when regularly drained to low energy levels. While lead-acid only offer a few hundred recharging cycles, NMC/NCA offer thousands, while LFP Li-ion can achieve in excess of 4,000.

This means Li-ion batteries offer consistent performance over thousands of charging cycles, leading to longer operational efficiency and less downtime for maintenance and replacement. The increased lifespan doesn't just boost productivity, but also delivers savings in the long-term when compared to traditional alternatives.

3. Faster charging: Li-ion batteries are known to charge quickly, allowing cleaning machines to be back in action swiftly. Amazingly, some Li-ion batteries can charge in just 1-2 hours, compared to the 10+ hours taken by many lead-acid batteries. This faster charging decreases downtime and boosts overall productivity.

Moreover, fast charging allows for more efficient scheduling of tasks, allowing businesses to optimise workflows and meet tight deadlines. Also, there's no risk that flammable hydrogen will be generated when charging, unlike with lead-acid batteries, meaning no need for dedicated monitoring areas. Li-ion also allows for opportunity charging, which is the charging of batteries whenever power is available, regardless of energy level.

4. New product types: The compact size and exceptional power density of Li-ion batteries can permit the design of new ultra-mobile products and devices, which were previously not possible with the bulkier battery types. This fuels innovation and can push businesses ahead of the competition.

Overcoming obstacles and making the switch

The benefits Li-ion batteries offer for industrial cleaning are undeniable. But making the switch can have challenges for some businesses. By using proper planning and strategic thinking, as well as implementing robust support systems, the switch can be made smooth and seamless.

1. Financial considerations: Li-ion batteries will often require a higher initial investment than more traditional battery types. But the long-term savings and benefits like reduced maintenance costs and greater operational efficiency are considerable, far outweighing the upfront expense. Moreover, financing options, incentives, and subsidies might be available to bring down the initial cost and make the move to Li-ion more affordable.

2. Training and education: Investing in training programs for employees is essential to maximise the performance, safety, and longevity of Li-ion batteries. This should include education on proper handling, charging, and safety protocols. This training should be easy to understand, as Li-ion batteries are user-friendly, although some employees might have habits from using older battery types that must be changed.

3. Government incentives: Both local and national governments increasingly recognise the importance of incentivising the use of cleaner and more sustainable technologies, including Li-ion batteries. Businesses could get incentives, grants, tax credits, and rebates aimed at promoting energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, and fostering innovation. By using these incentives, businesses can lower the cost associated with transitioning to Li-ion technology.

4. Safety: There is a common belief that Li-ion batteries are unsafe. Of course, with greater energy density there is always greater risk, but with robust design protecting them from damage, as well as a high-grade BMS ensuring cells operate within their voltage, temperature, and current limits, Li-ion batteries are a safe choice.

Should there still be concerns over safety, batteries with LFP chemistry can be chosen, as they have lower energy density than standard NCA/NMC Li-ion batteries, plus they can be charged and discharged up to twice as many times, making them an ideal choice for many industrial cleaning applications.

Conclusion

The move to Li-ion batteries isn't just a good idea for industrial cleaning businesses - it's an important step towards ensuring competitiveness, high performance, and effectiveness well into the future. With their great performance, longevity, and compact size, Li-ion batteries are helping to create a cleaner, more efficient, and more innovative future. Businesses must start using this technology, which offers cleaner operations, better productivity, and increased sustainability.

Of course, Li-ion batteries are not perfect - with greater performance and energy comes risk. That's why it's important to work alongside an experienced manufacturer able to deliver a safe battery. What's more, an experienced provider can advise on everything from the best chemistry to BMS functionality, along with many other factors, ensuring the best battery choice is always made. At Johnson Matthey Battery Systems, we provide advanced solutions for battery systems in cleaning applications, so you can reach out to us and learn more.

 

 

 

 

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