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EnerSys introduces lithium-ion technology to range

21 February 2019

EnerSys is set to introduce lithium ion technology to its NexSys range of motive power batteries with the launch of NexSys iON.

The expanded range will encompass Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) and lithium ion batteries to offer customers a full spectrum of intelligent and flexible power options for their electric material handling vehicles.

The NexSys iON battery range builds on the reputation of EnerSys for flexibility. The EnerSys designed NexSys iON system allows customers to maximise the well-known benefits of lithium ion technology. These include no maintenance requirements, high cycle life and long calendar life (so a truck needs only a single lifetime battery), high energy density, fast recharge times and no gas emissions.

With this combination of these features and lithium-ion benefits, NexSys iON represents an exciting opportunity. However, EnerSys does not offer it simply as a standalone solution. Instead, NexSys iON shares the NexSys brand as equal partners with the long-established TPPL offering. This is important, because, in many applications, advanced lead chemistry remains very competitive technically, and financially the best solution. Additionally, the chemistry enjoys a long history of productive, reliable performance within the motive power industry.

What’s more, NexSys TPPL offers benefits not available from other lead-acid battery products. Their thin plate, pure lead design imparts very low battery internal impedance, permitting both a very high rate of discharge, and quick, efficient charge acceptance. Therefore, NexSys TPPL products are ideal, for example, in opportunity charging applications where operators can use occasions such as shift changes or lunch breaks to charge at high current for short periods. 

Trucks remain in productive operation for a higher proportion of their shift, while the cost and space needed for dedicated charging areas is eliminated. Energy costs also drop, as NexSys TPPL batteries require less overcharging than flooded cells. The batteries provide longer cycle and storage lifetimes than standard AGM and Gel types, together with better energy density. Like earlier VRLA types, they are sealed, with minimal gassing and without need for water top-ups.

“We see NexSys as a revolutionary change in the stored energy market” comments Anssi Laitinen, senior director of marketing at EnerSys EMEA, “no longer focusing on any specific technology, but offering the most intelligent and flexible power solutions for each of our customers’ specific applications and needs.”

Laitinen continues: “We use a scientific methodology, backed by our vast experience of efficiently matching battery solutions to our customers’ application requirements, irrespective of their fleet size or previous battery technologies. The focus is always on meeting each customer’s TCO and uptime targets, with no restrictions on the technologies used to achieve these. The inbuilt intelligence of our motive power solutions allows users to exceed their targets, with predictable performance from products that require minimal maintenance. What’s more, reliability and availability are built in, every time.”

Safety features

For added peace of mind, NexSys iON batteries are designed to ISO26262 specifications, which equate to automotive lithium-ion battery safety levels. They employ multiple protective safety layers, an EnerSys - designed algorithm and a specially developed battery management system (BMS) based on ISO26262 ASIL C to achieve these high standards while avoiding adverse thermal events. Additionally, automotive-approved components are used in the construction of the batteries, bringing advanced safety benefits.

Meanwhile, the system design ensures safe, reliable and cost-effective operation for the long term. The batteries cells use NMC (Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide) chemistry, which is one of the most advanced types currently available. It offers high energy density as well as excellent chemical stability. As the product of choice for electric vehicles (EVs), NMC also offers a more solid and reliable supply chain, combined with vast, industry-wide investment into R&D.

Like their TPPL counterparts, NexSys iON batteries are optimised through connection to state of the art remote management tools. For instance, the truck-mounted batteries can communicate wirelessly with the Xinx cloud-based battery operations management system, alerting supervisors to actual or potential battery problems.

Xinx enables predictive maintenance to avoid performance downtime issues, which contributes to improved operator behaviour, battery life and productivity. The system also provides data on trucks’ energy use during both operation and charging. It is complemented by the E-Connect mobile phone app, and Truck iQ smart battery dashboard that provides drivers with critical battery status information.

The NexSys iON modular concept enables a system to be sized to fulfil any application requirements. During operation, the modules can be charged with current NexSys+ modular chargers that have been retrofitted with a small upgrade kit. So, existing NexSys TPPL customers can swap to Li-ion when needed, in a safe and easy way.

Matteo Todesco, senior marketing manager - Motive Power EMEA added the UK was an important market.

He said: "The United Kingdom is definitely a key market in the EMEA Material Handling business. First of all for its weight, around 7.5% of the total Europe market, and also for the presence of big retailers, plus its high focus on e-commerce logistics. On the other hand, 30% of the UK market is still represented by internal combustion trucks (diesel or LPG powered), with the remaining 70% being electric (while in Western Europe electric share is around 87%). There are still a good amount of opportunities to convert IC trucks into electric. EnerSys sees these opportunities being covered not only by Li-ion, but TPPL technology as well."

EnerSys has a well-established presence in the UK market with more than 45 sales and service people, two offices and one manufacturing plant.

"We can cover any type of need our customers may have. For lithium ion, we believe a solid supply chain and deep product knowledge are the most important factors to ensure the best service to customers (meaning: no work interruption, no incident, no delays). We have developed our Li-ion product on a global scale, choosing the best cells suppliers and the most reliable chemistries. And we have chosen to design and manufacture the product in house, building and keeping internal the product knowledge and expertise. This means EnerSys will be able to anticipate further changes and developments in the lithium-ion chemistry family, well ahead of pure assembly lines and re-sellers," added Todesco.