Clark introduces first counterbalance truck with lithium-ion technology

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Clark has relaunched its GEX and GTX series. The three and four-wheel electric forklifts in 48-volt technology with load capacities of 1.6 to 2 tonnes are now also available with a lithium-ion battery. With the GEX and GTX series, Clark has for the first time brought counterbalance trucks with Li-Ion battery onto the market and further expanded the product portfolio in the area of Li-Ion technology.

Customers with intensive applications in particular benefit from the properties of the Li-Ion battery, such as longevity, quick and intermediate charging capability as well as freedom from maintenance. The manoeuvrable GEX and GTX electric forklifts with Li-Ion battery are in demand wherever it is important to deliver top performance reliably and cost-efficiency day after day.

Particularly in multi-shift operations in distribution or industry, where high availability is important, also in the food, beverage, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, where clean operation is essential, the Clark electric forklifts with Li-Ion battery are an indispensable component that ensures high handling performance with low operating costs.

“The Clark lithium-ion batteries are efficient energy bundles that impress with their high availability,” says Rolf Eiten, president and CEO Clark Europe. “When developing our lithium-ion solution, it was important to us that the customer can not only benefit from all the advantages of this technology, but that in combination with an already proven Clark electric forklift series, he receives a logistics solution at the usual price-performance ratio, which also pays off for smaller and medium-sized operations.”

Powerful, wear-free motors

Two traction motors in the parallel front drive, each with 4.4 kW power and 48-volt three-phase technology, ensure rapid acceleration of the vehicles and travel speeds of up to 16 km/h. The AC motors used are designed to be wear-free and very robust. The Zapi Dual AC control system is equipped with CAN bus technology. Three driving modes are available for energy-efficient use of the truck. Also individually programmable are the wear-free, regenerative braking with the motor brake and the automatic reduction of speed when cornering. Safe use on ramps is guaranteed by the standard ramp function, which prevents unintentional acceleration or rolling back of the truck and ensures that the operator always has the vehicle under control.

The GTX/GEX electric trucks have lift heights of up to 7075 mm. The range is available with two wheelbases. The GTX16/GEX16 has a wheelbase of 1312 mm. The GTX18/GEX18 and the GTX20s and GEX20s each have a wheelbase of 1420 mm.

High availability with low operating costs

The Clark Li-Ion solution consists of the Li-Ion battery including battery management system (BMS) and a high-frequency charger. The battery capacity is 460 Ah for all models in the GTX/GEX series. This means that both the vehicles with a smaller wheelbase and those with a larger wheelbase have the same battery power. The 48-volt (160 A) charger only requires a power connection (CEE 16 A plug) and fully recharges the battery in as little as 2.5 hours. The charging status of the Li-Ion battery is shown on the truck display. During the charging process, the charger’s display shows the charging status. The BMS has a safety cut-out and thus ensures safe use of the battery.

The Li-Ion battery can be temporarily charged at any time and within a very short time – whenever breaks occur and without damaging the battery or shortening its life. Approximately 6 to 7 % of the charge quantity can be achieved in 10 minutes. Decentralised charging points directly at the place of use ensure that fast and safe charging can take place at any time. Li-Ion trucks can thus be used around the clock without the need to change batteries. This reduces the downtimes required for battery replacement. In addition, the operator does not have to keep any exchangeable batteries or infrastructure for battery replacement. He can use the expensive storage space thus gained for other purposes.

Another advantage of the Li-Ion battery is the fact that the battery scores with a constant voltage during the entire operation. Full power is always available ⎼ even when the battery is 85 % discharged. In short, Clark Li-Ion batteries bundle a lot of energy in a small space. They have an extremely long service life and are optimal for intensive use. Operators can therefore not only increase their productivity by using Li-Ion batteries, but also save costs for maintenance, infrastructure and replacement batteries.

Safe and durable

Because Clark always focuses on safety, Clark Li-Ion batteries are based on lithium iron phosphate technology (LiFePO4). With LiFePO4 batteries, no oxygen is released during the chemical reaction within the cells. This means that there is no risk of spontaneous combustion or explosion of the battery. The use of the battery is therefore very safe. Trucks with LiFePO4 battery perform efficiently even at very low and high ambient temperatures. With 2500 guaranteed charging cycles, the service life of the Li-Ion battery is at least twice as long, and depending on the application even many times as long, as the service life of a lead-acid battery. And even after that, the battery can still be used for 10+ years for further uses. In addition, LiFePO4 batteries are more environmentally friendly than, for example, lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxides (NMC batteries), because these require problematic raw materials, such as cobalt. Moreover, NMC batteries can burn if they leave certain operating parameters.

“The investment in a Li-Ion truck is not only worthwhile for intensive applications, but also for all drivers who want to operate a maintenance-free, long-lasting and fast-charging battery with a high safety standard,” says Rolf Eiten.

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Saul Wordsworth is deputy editor of the iVT brand - which includes digital and print editions of a quarterly magazine and Off-Highway Annual, as well as ivtinternational.com. He is a keen cyclist and lives in north London.

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