The boom in online retail sales has led to a huge uptick in the growth of distribution centers, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many warehouses are working to improve productivity and increase their output to keep up with increasing e-commerce demands. At the same time, some facilities are struggling to fill entry-level warehouse positions, with higher labor costs, higher demand for employees, and tighter regulations.
Warehouse managers are looking to automation as a cost-effective way to increase their output and free up human workers for more complex tasks.
There are many different types of automated solutions that warehouses might use for different applications, including:
● Automated storage and retrieval solutions (AS/RS)
● Conveyor systems
● Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs)
● Automated guided vehicles (AGVs)
The type of battery used to power AGVs is crucial to making the investment pay off. Lithium-ion batteries deliver much greater productivity due to their low maintenance requirements and larger capacity.
In this blog, we will explore the current state of AGVs in the material handling industry and discuss why choosing a lithium-ion battery AGV over a lead acid battery AGV is important for reaching your productivity goals.
Current status of AGVs in the material handling industry
Whether driverless transport systems such as AGVs, electric forklifts, or AMRs, the efficient use of industrial trucks is a decisive factor for competitiveness during ever-increasing cost pressures. The energy systems are being scrutinized and lithium-ion batteries are the preferred technology. The advantages versus lead-acid batteries, including the ability to recharge faster and more often, are obvious.
The trend towards lithium-ion batteries in intralogistics continues. Almost all large forklift manufacturers now have models with lithium-ion drives. In the field of driverless transport systems and mobile robots, powerful lithium-ion technology is already standard. Interim charging enables automated 24/7 operations which is critically important with two or three-shift operations at warehouses, distribution centers, 3PLs (third party logistics), and manufacturing facilities.
Why Pair Lithium-ion Batteries with AGVs/AMRs
For operations trying to keep things moving 24 hours a day, having to stop to change out heavy lead acid batteries for charging is a huge time waster.
When companies choose to invest in AGVs or AMRs, they are focused on improving
● Productivity in warehouses
● Reducing labor costs
● Increasing efficiency
Pairing AGVs or AMRs with lithium-ion batteries is a great way to get the most out of the investment.
The lithium battery technology for automated guided vehicles (AGV) have, in addition to the much longer operating time, lifespan and faster charging time, the recharge efficiency exceeds by far and you no longer have to be afraid of the batteries being completely discharged. In the medium term, such batteries are cheaper in contrast to the classic lead-acid batteries (SLAB).
Decrease Charging Time with Opportunity Charging
A lithium-ion battery pack can be fully charged in 1 to 2 hours. Due to the nature of lithium-ion batteries, they are ideal for opportunity charging – which means the AGV or AGM can be charged in small increments.
Opportunity charging can be utilized for AGVs during natural periods of downtime – such as during shift changes.
AGVs that use lead acid batteries deal with more downtime due to the extra hours required for charging and the cool-down period after charging.
Lithium-ion batteries do not need separate charging rooms like lead acid batteries do and they can be charged right from within the equipment.
Thoughtful consideration about route planning for AGVs means uptime can be maximized by placing charging stations at key points throughout the warehouse.
Maximize Productivity with a Low Maintenance Battery
Lead acid batteries have very stringent maintenance requirements, and if they are not maintained properly, the batteries’ lifespan and performance is negatively affected.
Lead acid batteries also periodically require an equalization charge, making productivity go down. Warehouses use AGVs because they want to maximize productivity. Because lead acid battery AGVs are high maintenance, warehouses won’t see as much productivity as compared to an AGV using a lithium-ion battery.
Lithium-ion batteries can stand much more abuse and need less attention. This makes them the ideal option for fleet managers looking to change their fleets from material handling equipment to AGVs.
For facilities that need to boost their equipment productivity, the time saved in battery maintenance and battery performance due to no maintenance, can add up to thousands of dollars a day in increased output.
Speed Up the Process with High Battery Energy Density
The energy density of a lithium-ion battery is much higher than other types of industrial batteries.
Energy density is the measure of how much energy a battery contains in proportion to its weight. The energy density of a typical industrial lithium-ion battery is about 90-120 Wh/kg, which is significantly higher than lead acid batteries which are between 30-50 Wh/kg.
Energy efficiency is the measure of how much energy a battery puts out relative to the energy input. Lithium-ion batteries are extremely efficient at 99% or higher.
Choosing a lithium-ion battery for AGV equipment in warehouse facilities means the AGV battery will maintain a high voltage level throughout the discharge cycle without degrading in performance.
All of these factors contribute to consistent voltage during a shift for automated vehicles transporting goods around a warehouse.
Designed to integrate with the world’s best Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) and Automated Mobile Robots (AMR), the BSLBATT LiFePO4 BMS delivers superior peak power and a fast 1C charge rate. LYNK Port connects a LYNK Gateway to communicate real-time SoC and set voltage as well as temperature parameters with the system.
BSLBATT AGV Lithium batteries feature self-heating and a proprietary high-current battery management system. Trusted OEM quality, tested and certified to the highest safety and performance standards, the BSLBATT AGV Lithium batteries is purpose-built to replace standard BCI 6V, 8V, and 12V sizes. AGV Lithium batteries has LYNK Gateway options for systems integration.
Increase Output and Production with AGVs/AMRs Powered by Lithium-ion Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are low maintenance, fast charging, and high performing, all of which contribute to warehouses maximizing their production.
By pairing lithium-ion power with AGVs and AMRs, operations can improve battery performance uptime of the AGVs and AMRs. This can result in significant production gains without increasing the number of workers or vehicles.
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