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Industrial power batteries for forklifts and other material handling equipment generally look very similar, with no differentiation of design or exterior features. Their technical specifications, like voltage and Amp hours/ capacity, are required to meet the standard requirements of the forklift. However, there is often a significant price difference between different brands, which stems from the choice of Lithium chemistry chosen by supplier, functionality of the battery management system (BMS), and from other parts of the "total product": delivery and installation; options for integration with the forklift and charger; and the availability of support, service, and parts.
What helps cheaper batteries stay cheap?
First and foremost, it is the limited functionality provided by a basic-level BMS. An advanced BMS plays a major role in preventing battery degradation by providing real-time diagnostics, equalizing the charge of individual cells, and safeguarding and optimizing the charge and discharge processes. A standard, off-the-shelf BMS with no adjustment for use in material handling and no advanced functions may give a price advantage, but also cause a lot of headaches to battery users.
The technical specifications, size, weight, connectors, controls, and exterior design may be almost identical for industrial batteries from different brands. However, it is risky to treat industrial batteries as a commodity. The key differences are in the mechanical and electrical design, electronics and software, as well as in the level of local support and parts availability. To choose a forklift battery, customers need to understand the benefits and trade-offs of the total product to avoid painful losses with potential downtime and extra labor costs. Look out for Orizen white paper on how to choose a Lithium battery for your forklift need that meets your application.